Outrage around the world over the blatant act of cheating in the crucial World Cup 2010 Euro zone play off qualifying match between France and Republic of Ireland, has put FIFA in the spotlight this week.
Thierry Henry's now infamous double handball in the build up to the French equaliser, which secured them a 2-1 aggregate victory over Republic of Ireland, has brought both the values of fair play in football and the integrity of the game as a whole into question. Now, more than ever, FIFA must respond.
The FIA launched an official complaint this evening demanding that FIFA nullify the result and force France to replay the match. In their complaint they claim that FIFA has set a precedent for action to be taken having stepped in and ordered a replay in a World Cup qualifier in 2005 between Bahrain and Uzbekistan.
The Bahrain Vs Uzbekistan Incident
"Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam has expressed regret over FIFA's decision to replay the Uzbekistan-Bahrain 2006 World Cup finals qualifier play-off.
FIFA ordered the match, which Uzbekistan won 1-0 on September 3 in Tashkent, to be replayed because of a "technical error" by Japanese referee Toshimitsu Yoshida.
Yoshida ruled out a penalty scored by Server Djeparov because of encroachment in the area by a Uzbek team-mate but crucially did not allow them to retake the penalty and awarded a freekick to Bahrain.
"Uzbekistan had been penalised twice and the winning side had become the victims. It was an unfortunate and serious error by Japanese referee Toshimitsu Yoshida," Hammam said in a statement."
The Rules of the Game
The Irish are likely to have their complaint fall on deaf ears as FIFA have regularly quoted the following ruling in similar incidents where diving or unseen goals have gone unnoticed by match officials.
"The Laws of the Game state.. The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final."
However, the Irish have made a strong argument in their plea and the fact that the handball was recognised by the FIFA commissioner, the referee observer and the match officials, as well as by the player himself surely sets this dramatic incident aside from any other that may have come previously?
France may be heading to South Africa 2010 as things stand, but there will be a shadow of doubt hanging in their minds, until FIFA officially break their silence on the incident and, most likely, reject the Irish complaints.
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