The right side won - for FIFA

The right side won - for FIFA

The right side won - for FIFA

First published in Sport Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Features Writer

SHOULD there or shouldn’t there be a replay?

France’s ‘Hand of Frog’ goal against Ireland in the second leg of their World Cup qualifying playoff match in Paris has caused pandemonium amongst everyone from politicians to supporters worldwide.

The FAI have lodged a complaint with FIFA, asking for a replay after Thierry Henry’s blatant handball.

Sitting in the studio here in Randburg, Johannesburg, I jumped up in indignation, realising that the referee, Martin Hansson, had sanctioned the goal.

How could the official have missed such an obvious breach of the rules?

But one advantage I did have, of course, was an instant replay available.

That allowed me to confirm what I had suspected, plus two players also in a suspiciously offside position.

I made a case for possibly four infringements – the two offsides and two handballs.

Now, I’m on record regarding the seeding of these playoffs.

I said at the time it was unequivocally unfair for FIFA to change the rules at the last minute.

FIFA obviously realised that there was a possibility of losing a big name country from making it to the World Cup finals in South Africa next year.

They went out of their way to accommodate the more influential countries, like France and Portugal.

On top of that, should FIFA not have insisted that a top European referee was appointed?

Saying that, I have viewed the television evidence on a number of occasions now and I have to admit the referee was in a poor position to have a clear view of the incident.

But the same can’t be said of the assistant, as the replay angles show him in the perfect position to see the offence.

FIFA’s response is to quote Law 5, Article 13, Paragraph 6, of their regulations, i.e. ‘no protests may be made about the referee’s decisions regarding facts connected with play’.

Well, I say what a lot of hogwash!

In 2005, the FIFA World Cup committee reached the decision to quash the result of a World Cup qualifying match between Uzbekistan and Bahrain, on the basis of a technical error by the referee.

My heart goes out to the Republic of Ireland players and coach Giovanni Trapattoni, who on the night deserved victory.

The powers that be at FIFA headquarters will have been delighted that the French have progressed.

But FIFA’s fair play motto is once more lying in tatters.

It certainly affects the integrity of the game and sends the wrong message to the youngsters. The discussions will race on, but the fact remains that the Irish’s World Cup dreams are over.

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