Monday, November 30, 2009

Al Jazeera: Irish ask for World Cup spot

Thierry Henry's handball could have far-reaching consequences in the sport. The Republic of Ireland has asked to be allowed to compete at the World Cup as a 33rd team.

Giovanni Trapattoni's side were knocked out of a qualifying playoff by France this month when Henry deliberately handled the ball in the buildup to the winning goal.

World governing body FIFA will consider the request at an emergency meeting in Cape Town on Wednesday, two days ahead of the World Cup draw.

And in more fallout from the controversy, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said extra match officials would be considered at South Africa 2010 "because players are cheating".

FIFA has already rejected a call by the Irish for a replay. Blatter told the Soccerex business conference in Johannesburg that the Irish asked: "Can we be team number 33 at the World Cup?"

He also said that Henry's handball showed that referees needed more help on the field.

If FIFA's executive committee agrees, the proposal will go before football's rule-making International Board in Zurich in March for a final decision.

'Lack of respect'

"There is a lack of discipline and respect in the game by the players because they are cheating," Blatter said on Monday. "This is human beings trying to get an advantage and this is not good and we have to fight against that.

"We have only one man on the field of play who shall intervene in this matter. He has two assistants for the time being, perhaps more in the future."

"There is a lack of discipline and respect in the game by the players because they are cheating"

FIFA president Sepp Blatter: "He (the referee) has to make an immediate decision. He has only two eyes. So match control is now is on the agenda. How shall we avoid such situations as we have seen in this very specific match?"

Henry's clear handball, first with his arm and then with his left hand, stopped the ball from going out of play before he crossed to teammate William Gallas to score an equaliser for a 1-1 draw with Ireland at Stade de France.

That remained the scoreline and France, who had won 1-0 in Dublin, qualified 2-1 on aggregate.

Because of the clamour for FIFA to take action to help the match officials, the debate is likely to be between using TV technology or extra referees. As an experiment in the Europa League, Uefa uses five officials, one standing at each end of the field, to help the referee settle disputes in the area, including whether the ball has crossed the line.

Blatter said he was not in favour of using TV technology to settle such disputes. "With technology, you have to stop a match. You have a look at cameras," he said.

"We have to maintain the human face of football and not go into technology. I think that goalline technology, when accurate, we can accept it in international football."

Rightardia agrees. Americans fottball games plod on for hours because of an excessive amount of timeouts and play reviews. The last 10 minutes of a close Pro football game take 30 minutes because of timeouts, runs to the sideline and balls thrown away to stop the clock.

Then there is the ridiculous two minute warning that stops the game. FIFA should avoid the trap of getting everything perfect that America football has fallen into. Soccer is exciting because of the continuous action.

However, the Irish should have won the match with the French. Let them play in Johannesburg as the 33rd team. That will put a human face on the sport.


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