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'
|Giuly: Mathieu can be the next Abidal|
|Allardyce hoping to keep hold of Morrison|
|Monk hails quality of Swansea additions|
|Van Gaal orders United players to speak English|
|Allardyce: We must improve|
|Campbell thrilled by Palace switch|
|Bojan drawn by Stoke style|
|Palace were wasteful, says Pulis|
|Van Gaal suits me - Cleverley|
|Newcastle stay perfect in NZ|
|Van Gaal prepared to wait for Strootman|
|West Brom overcome Sacramento|
|Colorado Rapids 3 Chivas USA 0: Hosts rise to third in the West|
|Gameiro brace adds to West Ham woes|
|Villas-Boas: Rodriguez best suited to no.10 role|
|Cazorla: I´m happy at Arsenal|
|Reina respects Liverpool contract|
|Lampard could move to Melbourne on loan|
|Galliani: Balotelli ´99.9 per cent´ staying|
|Own goal helps Palace win in Philadelphia|
|Mourinho: Shaw deal would have ´killed´ Chelsea|
|Al Ahli Benghazi 0 ES Setif 2: Visitors on verge of semi-final spot|
|Julio Cesar returns to QPR|
|Rooney wants to lead United|
|Lallana to miss up to six weeks with knee injury|
|Isgrove maintains Koeman´s perfect start|
|Lens announce Ligue 1 appeal success|
|Pekerman talks due in August|
|PSG sanction ´harsh´, claims FFF chief|
|Garcia: Strootman going nowhere|
|Van Aanholt departs Chelsea for Sunderland|
|Benfica sign Manchester United flop Bebe|
|Campbell makes Palace move|
|Reed signs new deal at Southampton|
|Juve stunned in Allegri´s first match|
|AFA fined over Falklands banner|
|Robinho likely to move, claims agent|
|Drogba completes Chelsea return|
|Kiyotake moves to Hannover|
|Marotta: Juventus eyeing striking additions|
|Bakayoko set for Monaco switch|
|J.League Preview: Vortis out to improve dismal fortunes against Ardija|
|Juve complete Pereyra deal|
|Ranieri named Greece head coach|
|Fiorentina agree Basanta deal|
|Di Natale backs Pereyra´s Juve move|
|Iniesta: Suarez has talent to restore Barca glory|
|Cerci in charge of his future, says Cairo|
|West Ham target new striker|
|Pardew hopeful over De Jong|
|Rodgers expects new Gerrard deal|
|Jones: United embracing Van Gaal methods|
|Henry: Time had come to sell Suarez|
|Brunt eyes new West Brom deal|
|Arsenal´s World Cup winners to miss league opener|
|Modric hails Rodriguez, Kroos signings|
|Cech does not want bench role|
|Inzaghi blames fatigue for Milan loss|
|Real´s time to shine, says Ancelotti|
|Real Salt Lake 3 Montreal Impact 1: Garcia stars in Utah|
|Downing: Carroll injury a ´big blow´|
|Irvine: I have not seen Ideye play live|
|Olympiacos triumph in Toronto|
|Giggs likens Van Gaal to Ferguson|
|Copa do Brasil Review: Corinthians among trio on the verge of progression|
|Blanc: World Cup stars will move on|
|Pinto steps down as Costa Rica coach|
|Mourinho planning Drogba swoop|
|UEFA Europa League Review: Rosenborg complete comeback to see off Sligo|
|Mathieu out to enjoy Barcelona move|
|Mandzukic not Diego Costa´s replacement|
|Eliseu returns to Portugal with Benfica|
|Sanabria makes Roma switch|
|Carroll to miss start of season|
|Vidal: I´m not going to Manchester|
|Xavi staying at Barcelona|
|Hannover complete Gulselam signing|
|Astori loaned to Roma, Cagliari confirm|
|Nigeria to talk with Keshi over return|
|Gamberini makes Chievo move|
|Besic poised to complete Everton move|
|Marseille move Montpellier fixture from Stade Velodrome|
|CSL Preview: Harbin eye Luneng scalp, Guangzhou face Hena|
|Guardiola preaches patience with Lewandowski|
|Lampard joins New York City|
|Blanc coy on Di Maria speculation|
|CAF Confederation Cup Preview: ASEC coach confident, Al Ahly seek qualification|
|Chelsea loan Piazon to Frankfurt|
|Pochettino has high hopes for Lamela|
|Aguirre appointed as Japan coach|
|Swansea swoop for Montero|
|Pozuelo makes Vallecano switch|
|Fred back at Shakhtar, Ismaily to follow|
|CFF investigate Fofana accusations|
|Suarez could make sensational Clasico debut|
|Ribery in line for return, says Guardiola|
|Reus could resume training in two or three weeks - Klopp|
|Roma need another defender, says Garcia|
|Everton on verge of new signings|
|Rodrigo hails Nuno after Valencia switch|
|Delph eager for new Villa deal|
|Ljajic not seeking Roma exit|
|Talks held as players strike in Ecuador|
|Crouch excited by Bojan capture|
|Lambert expects swift recovery for Cole|
|West Ham duo fail to travel|
|United to play 3-4-3, says Van Gaal|
|Lallana, Markovic set to feature against Olympiacos|
|Real want to win every trophy, says Bale|
|San Jose Earthquakes 5 Chicago Fire 1: Hosts break winless streak|
|Chelsea have "outstanding squad" - Costa|
|United make winning start under Van Gaal|
|Rodgers plays down Borini injury concerns|
|Atletico Mineiro 4 Lanus 3 (agg 5-3): Own goals gift Brazilians the win|
|Dunga names Brazil assistants|
|Man City show class in Kansas|
|Villa too good for Dallas|
|Santos cannot meet Robinho´s demands, says vice-president|
|Mourinho happy with goalkeeper situation|
|Borini hurt as Liverpool lose to Roma|
|Palace held to draw by Crew|
|Tottenham down Toronto after Lamela brace|
|San Lorenzo 5 Bolivar 0: Hosts close in on Copa Libertadores final|
|Sunderland forward Scocco joins Newell´s|
|Rodgers: We won´t overpay in transfer market|
|Maccabi Haifa friendly abandoned after pitch invasion|
|USA dynamo Beasley joins Houston|