Fifa may open case for handball

2009-12-03 00:00

FIFA’S disciplinary committee will investigate opening a case against Thierry Henry for the handball that led to France qualifying for the 2010 World Cup at the expense of Ireland, Fifa president Sepp Blatter said yesterday.

Addressing a press conference at Cape Town International Convention Centre that followed an extraordinary meeting of Fifa’s executive committee, Blatter said soccer’s world governing body will investigate the feasability of introducing technology or two additional referees.

Yesterday’s special meeting discussed three main topics:

• Incidents that happened in two World Cup qualification play-offs: the match between Egypt and Algeria, where it was reported missiles were hurled at the Algerian team bus on the way to Cairo International Stadium; and the game between France and Ireland, in which France progressed thanks to the Theirry Henry handball that led to the winning goal.

• Technology being used in officiating, or additional referees.

• Irregularities in the football betting market following a match-fixing scandal in Europe.

Blatter said Fifa has received a letter from the Irish FA withdrawing its appeal to be a 33rd team at the World Cup.

He said: “The disciplinary committee will open a case for an investigation concerning the incidents in the matches between Algeria and Egypt, and also will open a case on the behaviour, good or not, of the player Thierry Henry.”

Asked why Henry is being singled out when thousands of other players have handballed, Blatter replied: “This is a matter for the disciplinary committee and not the executive committee and it is not a question of this player or another player — it is also because of blatant unfair playing all around the world.”

The Fifa president said there will be no change in the number of referees for the 2010 World Cup, which Blatter had advocated at the Soccerex meeting in Johannesburg on Monday.

“Some of the executive committee said that the actual referee is no longer consistent with the quality, rhythm and speed of the game, and the interest from television where you can have 32 cameras in the World Cup.

“We came to the following decision. First, yes we shall have a look at technology or additional referees and this will be done by a committee.

“The Europa League experiment will go on, but for the World Cup 2010 … you will still have one referee, two assistants and a fourth official.”

Blatter said Interpol has agreed to partner Fifa to combat match-fixing.

“This illegal betting system is no longer aimed at higher players or referees, but at matches in the second or third divisions, but it is really taking football as a hostage for illegal activities,” Blatter said.

“There are three systems that already exist in Europe — the Fifa Early Warning System for international matches, one by Uefa and the third in Germany.

“These will co-operate with Interpol … which has assured Fifa that Interpol will strongly support my request that it will create an international task force to fight illegal betting in all sports, but in football in particular.”

Blatter said a working group will examine the question of whether it is good to have play-offs in World Cup qualifying.

For 2010, these included play-offs between the second-placed European finishers, between teams from different federations such as South America and Concacaf, and Asia and Oceania, and in Africa where Egypt and Algeria finished level on points and goal difference.

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