Friday, November 20, 2009


France captain Thierry Henry has admitted replaying the World Cup qualification play-off against the Republic of Ireland would be "the fairest solution".

The Barcelona forward has also spoken of his "embarrassment" at the manner of Les Bleus' victory over the Irish.

"Naturally I feel embarrassed at the way that we won and feel extremely sorry for the Irish who definitely deserve to be in South Africa," said Henry, whose handball in the build-up to William Gallas' equaliser on Wednesday night enabled the French to go through 2-1 on aggregate.

"Of course the fairest solution would be to replay the game but it is not in my control."

"I have said at the time and I will say again that yes I handled the ball. I am not a cheat and never have been.

"It was an instinctive reaction to a ball that was coming extremely fast in a crowded penalty area.

"As a footballer you do not have the luxury of the television to slow the pace of the ball down 100 times to be able to make a conscious decision.

"People are viewing a slow motion version of what happened and not what I or any other footballer faces in the game.

"If people look at it in full speed you will see that it was an instinctive reaction.

"It is impossible to be anything other than that. I have never denied that the ball was controlled with my hand. I told the Irish players, the referee and the media this after the game.

"Of course the fairest solution would be to replay the game but it is not in my control.

"There is little more I can do apart from admit that the ball had contact with my hand leading up to our equalising goal and I feel very sorry for the Irish."

But a statement from the French Football Federation (FFF) read: "The FFF understands the disappointment and bitterness of the Irish players, management and supporters.

"The federation never sought to deny the refereeing error which saw the equalising French goal allowed.

"During matches, decisions are taken by the referee and these decisions are final. As a result, the result of the match cannot be changed and the match cannot be replayed."



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