Ireland team denied 33rd spot for 2010

2009-12-02 00:00

IRELAND’S application to be the 33rd team at the 2010 World Cup will not be accepted, Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke said at a press conference at the Cape Town ICC yesterday ahead of Friday’s Final Draw.

Ireland were controversially knocked out in the final qualifying round for 2010 by France, who scored a 2-1 aggregate victory thanks to Thierry Henry’s handball that led to William Gallas’s goal in Paris.

The Irish FA was unsuccessful in an appeal to have the match replayed, and Valcke said their application to be included as a 33rd team will also be unsuccessful.

“I think we have to be clear — Ireland will not be invited to play at the World Cup,” Valcke said. “There was a request made by the Irish FA when we met them in Zurich two days ago.

“They asked the question — the Fifa president [Sepp Blatter] was very clear by saying it was impossible because if we do so, why not Costa Rica or other teams?

“Then we said, ‘Because you are making an official request, we will bring this request to the committee members’, and that’s exactly what you have read about in the papers.”

Fifa will hold a special executive committee meeting today to discuss the France-Ireland controversy and a refereeing corruption scandal that has emerged in Europe.

Valcke said the qualifying process will come under scrutiny.

“I don’t know if it at the end will come up with a decision,” Valcke said. “But at least it will aim to make sure that what has happened will not happen again, and to see if we have the potential to avoid such situations.

“It’s sad that after having played 853 matches for this qualification, we are just talking about one game. It is because for some countries qualification rests on just this one game.

“That was a question asked by some of the members — let’s think about the way we are playing this qualification and let’s think how we can stop this kind of thing happening again.

“We have this experiment with two additional referees, which will be discussed tomorrow before the International Football Association Board [which passes new football laws] in March. It’s not just a decision for the Fifa executive,” Valcke said.

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