Ireland plead for 2010 spot

IRELAND have asked Fifa to include them in next year's World Cup after France striker Thierry Henry's globally covered handball robbed them of a place in the showpiece.

IRELAND have asked Fifa to include them in next year's World Cup after France striker Thierry Henry's globally covered handball robbed them of a place in the showpiece.

"They want to be included in the World Cup as a 33rd team," said Fifa president Sepp Blatter at Soccerex in Sandton yesterday.

Henry handled the ball before setting up William Gallas's late goal that earned France a 1-1 draw - and a 2-1 aggregate win - in their World Cup playoff two weeks ago, and a spot in next year's final in South Africa. The Barcelona striker's handball has hogged headlines.

At one stage, Henry threatened to quit soccer, arguing that he was concerned by lack of support from French soccer authorities as the media blamed him for Ireland's exit from the World Cup.

"We received a delegation from Ireland, they were absolutely unhappy but agreed that the match cannot be replayed. The decision of the referee is final," said Blatter.

"Ireland asked that they be included in the World Cup to become the 33rd team in the tournament next year, but I will bring it (their request) to the attention of the special Fifa executive committee meeting."

The Fifa executive committee meeting will take place on Robben Island tomorrow.

X