The FAI's plea to be allowed to play in the World Cup finals will be discussed by FIFA tomorrow – but looks doomed to failure.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter yesterday revealed the FAI had asked “very humbly” to be the 33rd team at next summer’s finals in South Africa.
The move comes in the wake of the controversial play-off defeat to France last month, when Thierry Henry twice handled the ball in the build-up to an equaliser from William Gallas which saw Raymond Domenech’s side through 2-1 on aggregate.
FIFA have already ruled out replaying the game but Blatter felt his organisation had a duty to respond to the appeal at tomorrow’s extraordinary executive committee meeting in Cape Town.
Speaking at the Soccerex conference in Johannesburg, Blatter said: “We received a delegation from Ireland in Zurich on Friday and they were naturally absolutely unhappy at what has happened.
“They have not asked for any sanctions but have asked, very humbly, whether they could be team number 33 at the World Cup.”
That was greeted with laughter from some delegates and journalists present and it seems Ireland’s plea will be politely turned down. Including them as a 33rd finalist would be unprecedented and serve as a dangerous precedent, as Blatter acknowledged.
“I will bring it to the attention of the executive committee but if we do that, we will also have to bring in Costa Rica,” Blatter said.
Costa Rica believe they too were denied a place in South Africa unfairly, feeling a goal scored by Uruguay in their own play-off was offside, and Blatter’s tone suggested it was inconceivable FIFA would add any more countries to the 32-team finals.
An FAI statement read: “A lot was discussed at the meeting and at one stage the FAI asked if Ireland could be accommodated into the World Cup 2010.
“Other suggestions were also made to mitigate against further occurrences of such incidents, including the use of additional goalline assistant referees for FIFA international matches, further use of video technology for matches at the highest level, stronger provisions to discourage players from engaging in such blatant breaches of the Laws of the Game and provisions to strengthen referee selection for such important matches.”