DUBLIN (AFP) - Angry Ireland called on FIFA to allow its World Cup playoff with France to be replayed, as a dispute over Thierry Henry's blatant handball threatened to become a diplomatic row.
Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said he supported the Football Association of Ireland's request, and promised to raise the issue with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at an EU summit.
Video replays showed Henry used his hand to stop the ball going out of play in extra-time of Wednesday's match, before he passed to William Gallas to head the goal for a 2-1 aggregate win which sent France to South Africa.
"The blatantly incorrect decision by the referee to award the goal has damaged the integrity of the sport," the FAI said in a statement.
"We now call on FIFA, as the world governing body for our sport, to organise for this match to be replayed."
After talks with Cowen on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels, Sarkozy said: "I told Brian Cowen how sorry I was for" the people of Ireland.
"But don't ask me to substitute myself for the referee, or the French football authorities, or the European football authorities: leave me right where I am," he told reporters.
"You're going to start denouncing me as the hyper-president again," he said, in reference to his reputation as a leader who is drawn to the limelight and seeks to get involved in as many international issues as possible.
Cowen, for his part, said that talking about the match "wasn't the purpose of the meeting" between EU leaders.
However he said he believed after the chat with Sarkozy that "he would understand the sense of disappointment that the Irish people feel after the tremendous performance last night."
"This matter's going to be resolved by the sports organisations with responsibility for football, not in Brussels or anywhere else," he said.
Asked whether he told Sarkozy the match should be played again, Cowen said: "No, I didn't ask for a replay."
Cowen also paid tribute to the French footballing public's outpouring of sympathy for the Irish-- turning on their own team.
He said they had been "making it clear in great numbers that there is a lot of disquiet about the manner of the goal."
FIFA confirmed it had received a letter of complaint from the FAI, but refused to say when any decision would be made.
Ireland's chances of forcing a replay appear slim.
The match in Paris was one of four playoffs on Wednesday which finalised the 32-nation line-up for South Africa.
The draw for next year's finals is due to be made in Cape Town on December 4, leaving little time in a calendar already crowded by club matches.Related article: Who's saying what
FAI chief executive John Delaney said his organisation had also written to the French Football Federation (FFF) asking for the playoff to be replayed, and urged FIFA to take action.
"If FIFA believe in fairplay and integrity... this is their opportunity to step forward," a clearly agitated Delaney said.
"From the French FA's point of view, they need to look at themselves and look at this situation.
"Thierry Henry's their captain, he's a wonderful footballer, but does he want to be remembered like Maradona was in 1986, does he want his legacy to be this handball?" he asked, referring to Diego Maradona's infamous 'Hand of God' goal for Argentina against England at the 1986 World Cup.
France coach Raymond Domenech said he was stunned to see his team treated as guilty men in the aftermath of the handball scandal.
"I don't understand why we have been judged guilty. On the pitch, I didn't see the handball. Since then I have seen the video and it's a mistake by the referee," Domenech told www.lexpress.fr
"I don't understand why we are expected to say sorry.
"We are not going to commit hara-kiri because the referee made a mistake and this time in our favour."
Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni said he did not believe FIFA would grant a replay.
"It is impossible to repeat the game," the experienced Italian said.
He urged FIFA to explain how Swedish referee Martin Hansson, who failed to spot the incident, had been chosen for such a high-profile match, saying: "For this important game we needed a stronger referee, an important referee."
Henry himself admitted handling, but said the responsibility for seeing the incident fell to the match official.
Trapattoni refused to blame the player, saying: "It wasn't up to Henry to say 'I touched it with my hand'."
The Irish press were unanimous in their condemnation.
"We were robbed" said the Irish Star, "Le Cheat" added the Irish Mirror, while the Irish Sun splashed with the "Hand of the Frog".
A Facebook page entitled "We Irish hate Thierry Henry (the cheat)" also drew hundreds of comments, including a call for an Irish boycott of French goods.
|Coach: R. Domenech|
for J. Escudé 9'
for A. Gignac 56'
for Y. Gourcuff 87'
|Conte praises Italy´s grit and intensity|
|Sneijder: Blind not to blame|
|CAF World Cup Qualifying Review: Niger thump Somalia|
|Motherwell bring back McGhee as manager|
|Wales 2 Andorra 0: Ramsey and Bale see off stubborn minnows in Cardiff|
|Belgium 3 Israel 1: Mertens, De Bruyne and Hazard seal top spot|
|Italy 2 Norway 1: Comeback denies Hogmo´s men automatic qualification|
|Netherlands 2 Czech Republic 3: Dutch miss out on play-off spot|
|AFC World Cup Qualifying Review: Jordan extend lead over Australia|
|Ex-UEFA chief Johansson denies knowledge of Blatter-Platini payment|
|Injured Aguero returns to Manchester|
|Blanc casts doubt on Ibrahimovic´s PSG future|
|Alexandre Pato will cost €25m - Corinthians executive|
|Allardyce opens to door to possible Nolan swoop|
|Mertesacker: Chambers destined to become one of the best|
|Evra still upset over Manchester United exit|
|Cardona reminds me of James - Pekerman|
|Monchengladbach hit by Xhaka, Schulz injuries|
|Bebe looking to win big move with Rayo form|
|McClaren laments Newcastle´s Krul blow|
|Suarez: Barcelona lack last season´s punch|
|Iran 1 Japan 1: Muto strike cancels out Torabi opener|
|Baptistao eyes Europa League success with Villarreal|
|Ronaldo: Brazil will face more difficulties|
|Tottenham have out-run everyone, Kane warns Liverpool|
|Welbeck certain Rooney´s goal drought will end|
|Payet slams ´unjust´ France snub|
|Bayern confirm Coman injury not serious|
|Fabregas: Spain want third consecutive European title|
|South Korea 3 Jamaica 0: Ki on target in confident victory|
|´Exceptional´ Ronaldo can win another Golden Shoe - Perez|
|Cristiano Ronaldo: I now want fifth Golden Shoe|
|Allardyce demands defensive improvement at Sunderland|
|Darmian: Joining Manchester United an easy decision|
|Wenger criticism is unfair - Welbeck|
|Hulk urges Brazil to win back fans|
|Vidal puts his career at risk for Chile, says Medel|
|Of course I want new Barcelona deal - Neymar|
|Di Natale backs Balotelli to lead Italy at Euro 2016|
|De Gea: I´m better than ever before|
|Butland fires warning to Hart|
|Allardyce: I love winding up ´arrogant´ Wenger|
|Arsenal´s lack of success could see them miss out on Kokorin - agent|
|Welbeck targets January return for Arsenal|
|Rakitic: We´ll win for Modric|
|Ballon d´Or is reserved for Messi - Neymar|
|Dortmund dismiss Aubameyang exit talk|
|Perisic ´decisive like Robben´ - Suker|
|Ferdinand: Fergie´s captaincy snub upset me|
|De Bruyne hungry for more goals|
|Dunga: Brazil are frustrated and lack reaction|
|Dani Alves: Time for Brazil to focus|
|I believed we would finish unbeaten - Hodgson|
|Del Bosque expects selection headache for Euro 2016|
|Ukraine 0 Spain 1: Hundred-cap Fabregas falters from the spot|
|Lithuania 0 England 3: Hodgson´s men make it a perfect 10|
|Fabregas reaches 100 Spain caps|
|Excited Conte targets top-four Euro 2016 showing|
|Spain pair Casillas and De Gea show the way for Rico|
|Liverpool not title candidates under Klopp - Barnes|
|Manchester United important to Northern Ireland success|
|Tevez cannot operate like Messi - Martino|
|Pele questions Brazil unity after qualifying loss|
|Ancelotti: Roma have the most quality in Serie A|
|Ghana v Canada: Hoilett desperate for international debut|
|Cruyff: Netherlands painful to watch|
|´No hatred´ between Bale and Ronaldo, claims Wales star´s agent|
|Mexico v Panama: Ferretti prepares for farewell|
|Wright signs new deal to end Dundee United speculation|
|Real Madrid are not making Bale demands, insists Coleman|
|Toure, Aubameyang and Salah lead CAF Player of the Year nominations|
|Neuer, De Gea the Messi and Ronaldo of goalkeeping - Ferguson|
|Sakho slams PSG over Coman treatment|
|Former FIFA Executive Committee member Makudi suspended|
|Mancini: It´s time for Inter to beat Juventus again|
|Blind talks down Depay, Van Persie row claims|
|Van Persie: Vieira inspired me to be strong mentally|
|Klopp will not ruin his reputation by raiding Dortmund - Rauball|
|Wolfsburg confirm Embolo interest|
|Sigurdsson looked up to Beckham, Lampard|
|Uruguay still a threat without Cavani and Suarez - Arias|
|PSG better than Bayern - Zidane|
|Allardyce: I deserved the England job in 2006|
|Baker: I will return to Chelsea a better player|
|I have no contact with Luis Enrique - Barca B captain Grimaldo|
|Carlo Ancelotti wants Premier League return|
|Klopp: I won´t poach Dortmund players|
|Xavi: I would have liked to play for Manchester United|
|Ronaldo´s success largely down to Benzema - Ancelotti|
|Willian ignoring his Brazil critics|
|Messi rivalry spurs on Ronaldo - Zidane|
|Klopp needs time and money - Hitzlsperger|
|United States v Costa Rica: Under-fire Klinsmann standing firm|
|Giroud satisfied with France contribution|
|Hodgson rejects easy cap claims|
|Honduras v South Africa: Mashaba´s men want consistency|
|Spain to play Belgium in November friendly|
|Lallana ´very excited´ by Klopp arrival|
|Santos: Serbia deserved to finish second|
|Iordanescu: Romania should´ve qualified earlier|
|De Biasi revels in Albania´s historic Euro 2016 berth|
|Reus misses sum up Germany´s problems - Low|
|Krul ´devastated´ after being ruled out for season|
|Lewandowski insists Poland fully deserve Euro 2016 spot|
|Deschamps urges France players to give him selection headaches|
|Hummels: Germany must seize attacking opportunities|