The Fifa president Sepp Blatter has claimed the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) asked to be included in the World Cup finals as an extra team following the Republic of Ireland's controversial play-off exit to France. The Republic lost to a play-off extra-time goal in Paris scored by William Gallas after Thierry Henry handled the ball in the build-up. Blatter yesterday conceded for the first time the World Cup play-off system must be examined as a result of Henry's handball and the controversy afterwards.
Fifa are holding an extraordinary executive committee meeting tomorrow to deal with a number pressing issues, with fair play at the top of the agenda. Speaking at the Soccerex conference in Johannesburg two days before the Cape Town meeting, Blatter said the current rules would have to undergo serious examination. "On one match it is decided if you are in or out and this is not the spirit behind this World Cup," said Blatter. "We must look at this. There is so much at stake."
With a replay ruled out, Blatter claimed the FAI had subsequently requested to be included as an extra country at the World Cup. "Naturally they were unhappy with what happened and asked very humbly whether they could be team number 33," he said. "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 [who believe they were unfairly eliminated by an offside Uruguay goal]."
Blatter hinted that the use of two extra officials behind the goal, currently being trialled in the Europa League, could be introduced in time for the World Cup. "It's possible we will make additional officials for the World Cup but we have to see if it is feasible or realistic. Something has to be done in terms of match control." * With agencies