Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fans call for play-off replay

Fifa set precedent for playing qualifiers again due to errors

Football fans from around the globe have deluged Sky Sports to call for the Republic of Ireland's World Cup play-off with France to be replayed.

Robbie Keane's first-half goal in Paris had sent the match into additional time with the aggregate scores locked at 1-1, but in extra-time Thierry Henry handled in the box to set-up William Gallas to head home the winner.

But Ireland - and their fans - have been left seething with the decision to allow the goal to stand with many calling for Fifa to take action against Henry and order a replay of the game.

The Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern led the protests, urging Fifa to be called to account in the interests of fair play.

"They probably won't grant it as we are minnows in world football but let's put them on the spot," the minister said.

"It's the least we owe the thousands of devastated young fans around the country. Otherwise, if that result remains, it reinforces the view that if you cheat, you will win."

Thousands of supporters have also had their say. Gary Bulger told "Henry should be banned for the World Cup and the game should be replayed ... if Michel Platini doesn't take action he should also stand down."

A similarly outraged Michael Dunn added: "I believe France should forfeit the match or meet Ireland again in Ireland to play a winner takes all game! This is a disgrace to the world of football and not one fan can go from this game and say next summer they feel France should be there."

John Van der Steeg also felt aggrieved and said: "Why not use the TV footage to correct this. Fifa should order the match replayed and Henry must not be allowed to play in it."

James Smith also added his weight to calls for a replay and said: "How many more blatant and disgusting decisions will it take before Fifa do something about refereeing and the ability to use a quick referral system? When is someone going to get some guts and do something about it? Henry cheated and he has admitted it. Fifa - replay the game."

It appears there is a precedent for replaying play-offs following Fifa's decision to order Uzbekistan's World Cup qualifier against Bahrain to be held again following a dubious refereeing decision.

With a place in a decisive play-off for the 2006 World Cup finals up for grabs, Uzbekistan won the opening leg of their Asian zone play-off 1-0 but they were infuriated by a bizarre incident where a penalty was disallowed for an attacking player encroaching.

Rather than retaking the penalty, a free-kick was awarded to Bahrain. Uzbekistan called for the game to be given to them 3-0, but were left incensed after the match was ordered to be replayed in its entirety due to the technical error by Japanese referee Toshimitsu Yoshida.

Yoshida should have allowed the penalty to be retaken rather then disallowing the goal.

Fifa gave their verdict on the decision to replay the Uzbekistan-Bahrain tie on their official website in 2005 but curiously chose not to mention the controversy surrounding the crucial goal in the France v Republic of Ireland game.

And Irish fans have been quick to call for action by Fifa for the perceived injustice in Paris on Wednesday.

Steven Kelly said: "Real-time video evidence is an absolute must. It's been an absolute must for at least 15 years; where has Fifa been? Online petition campaign anyone? Or bombard Fifa with e-mails?"

David McCarthy added: "Henry is a disgrace but what action will Fifa take as he has brought the game into disrepute? Will they ban him? Will they replay the game? Will they take action against the officials like they did against Graham Poll? I think we know all the answers to these ...NO!"

And Paul Boland added weight to the calls for action by world football's governing body, saying: "The game should be replayed as it was an extra-time goal that should not have stood and would have gone to a penalty shoot-out. Stand up everyone and demand from Fifa they do the right thing for the game of football and have the match replayed."

Tags : Fifa, Football, World Cup, Michel Platini

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