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Breaking News: Ireland Ask FIFA To Let Them Go To South Africa

Well, you can’t blame them for trying, two weeks after that hand ball incident and FIFA and UEFA being as patronising as possible, the Football Association of Ireland have asked to be included in the World Cup draw on Friday as a 33rd team.I’ve just had the misfortune of sitting through a Sepp Blatter press conference, which saw a bunch of smug and arrogant bureaucrats laugh at Ireland’s suggestions. Quite what was so funny about it and Blatter’s excuse that Costa Rica would also want to go simply makes them look out of touch from reality.

He then decided to mention that Henry’s family had received death threats. Quite what that had to do with Irelands request wasn’t clear, but the message was. Ireland haven’t a prayer against this cartel. I’m struggling to understand what’s so funny about FIFA’s cowardice in dealing with this situation in an adult manner. An organisation that is run by autocratic and very undemocratic voting procedures seems adamant to cling to the past as long as it possibly can. By continually refusing to look at the bigger picture here, which has seen FIFA’s standing fall even lower than most people thought possible, they are beginning to resemble dinosaurs.

This continual defence of “We can’t introduce video technology” is fast losing any semblance of reality. Football is now the only major sport which will not allow video replays to decide incidents in play. Cricket, NFL, Rugby League and Rugby Union all now use the technology available to them to assist in supporting the match officials. How many mistakes must be brushed under as “human error” before Blatter and his cronies get the message. The match officials need help and only video technology can do it to the level required.

The old argument about the game being able to be played from top to bottom of the football tree with the same set up up is beyond pointless now. Top level football bares absolutely no comparison with Sunday morning football anymore. The balls, boots, pitches, officials, diets, goalkeepers gloves even the half time refueling are all miles apart now. When such matters as World Cup qualification are on the line, especially when accusations of bias abound, video technology allows the officials postion to be strengthened not weakened.

The other argument of slowing the game down is also pointless. Ireland’s protestations over Henry’s cheating took over 3 minutes to settle down. Are you telling me it would take 3 minutes for the replay to prove Henry handled it twice? Of course it wouldn’t. People say that it’s decisions like this that make the game what it is today and we need things to talk about. What an idiotic argument, we live in the 21st century, if anything it’s incidents like the Henry incident that can do untold damage to the game. It makes fans like me think whats the point when blatant cheating can go unpunished.

By refusing to even consider the possibility of bringing football into the 1980’s never mind the 21st century, Sepp Blatter and his self protecting friends are pouring scorn on the beautiful game. The dodgy European seedings, constant slating of English sides, refusal to accept video technology and the obvious fact that South Africa will be given the easiest group in Friday’s World Cup seedings show that FIFA is only interested in paying lip service to fair play and its place in the modern world. The reality is that FIFA will always protect its favourite countries over teams such as Ireland, Costa Rica and Turkey, surrounding itself with useless bureaucrats who only care about themselves and stuff the fans and football.

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  1. Ron

    November 30, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Latest news is that the FAI didn’t even refer to the possibility of being a 33rd team in a written submission to FIFA just before they met Blatter last week.They spoke only about how things could be made fairer for teams in future.

    The subject of a wildcard entry was raised only verbally in a private meeting with him on Friday and apparently the FAI knew even then their chances were very slim.Blatter has acted like a cad as far as I am concerned in bringing this into the public domain,when he knows that the FAI have zero chance of success.Why mention it? It seems his sole intention was to embarass the FAI and make them look ridiculous.

  2. ken byrne

    November 30, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    a legal recourse shoul be available against fifa,the irish economy will lose millions ,and related irish companies abroad.any good lawyer could set a precedent and get world wide tv coverage to compensate every business that will lose money, fifa have created a culture of cheating ,mr blatter laughing today was an insult.if you are a lawyer why not set a precedent,i am very sure donations would be very forthcoming,ireland will not be in,but will somebody please stand up ,it will happen again and is sepp going to laugh at your country,i hope not.

  3. CA_backpacker

    November 30, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Ireland were cheated, pure and simple. Wasn’t the decision to seed the last stage made relatively recently in the qualifying process, and not at the start of WC qualifying, as would make sense and be fair? Add to that the obvious hand-ball?

    And imo, Football desperately needs instant replay. For circumstances like this and for “questionable” off-sides I’d like to see it (I would use it like hockey’s delayed penalty…where if the linesman is not 100% sure whether a player is onsides or not, the play continues and is in a “delayed offsides ruling state”…if a goal is scored, it is reviewed; if not, meaning the potential offsides didn’t matter, then the “delayed offsides ruling state” is removed and play continues). This wouldn’t delay play at all, and would remove the constant wrong calls that dramatically change games. This isn’t NFL, where a single call rarely decides a game…in “soccer”, where there may only be a single goal, getting it right is paramount.

    Sports that don’t stay current and up-to-date with technology and video review (read, baseball and the hilarious mistakes made in the recent World Series games?) just make themselves look foolish, or worse, corrupt.

  4. Tyson

    November 30, 2009 at 6:24 pm


    When you have it all you want is more. FIFA is run by a lot of very rich guys if anybody even for a moment thinks all the decisions taken by FIFA aren’t about money they need a brain transplanted into their head.

    They have a system where they over rule everybody else regardless of what happens and they always back the referee regardless of whether hes wrong or right.

    Last year they gave the game away with the Chelsea semi finals BS, this year they showed they wanted France in the world cup rather than Ireland.

    While I would also prefer to see France in the world cup rather than island I am not so naive to think it was an accident that they went through and the linesman saw nothing. Big powerful rich organisations don’t care about what you have to say they care about their bottom line. It’s hardly rocket science.

  5. Rory

    November 30, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Sepp Blatter truly is an odious piece of work, good post Paul by the way. The FAI absolutely did not want this public and a former chief executive of the organisation said Blatter should never have come out with it. The request was a bit ridiculous but Blatter coming out with it at a live press conference and having a good giggle about it is beyond belief. This is the head of world football? I struggle to find any redeeming qualities in the man and the thing is Blatter is just the tip of the iceberg.

  6. brn442

    November 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Well written article until you said Henry “cheated,” do you know for a fact that he did? Also, those “dodgy” seedings and perceived anti – English club bias has more to do with UEFA, not FIFA, and as long as Britain is still able to have four home nations, it would be hard to convince a neutral that FIFA is out to get the Brits.

    Your brilliant observation on FIFA’S point about keeping the game consistent through all levels is a wonderful ideal but as you’ve said – everything from flood lights, under pitch heating, even half – time sports drinks would have to be banned from the top level on that logic.

    I still think it’s the height of hypocrisy that the FAI wants the match re-played. Have they offered to replay the match when they were awarded that dubious penalty in Georgia, of course not? And don’t give me this nonsense that a dubious penalty is different from a hand ball, really.

    The fact that the FAI was allowed to waste their time with such a silly request was the real scandal. The only good thing is if video replay is even a little bit closer because of this.

    • Paul Bestall

      November 30, 2009 at 5:43 pm

      Fair points BRN 442.
      Well my observation that Henry cheated is the based on as the ball is about to hit his hand, Henry actually spreads his fingers, increasing his chances of keeping the ball in play, then moves the hand again to make sure. That’s my opinion which you are more than entitled to disagree with. 😉

      Yes, the peoples game bares no relation to the top level game anymore, yet it is an argument that is consistently used by FIFA as a defence to veto video technology. They could learn a hell of a lot from the NFL, which I watch every week.

      Thanks for the comments.

    • Ron

      November 30, 2009 at 6:28 pm

      It’s a fair enough point about the penalty against Georgia BRN 442,though it’s worth remembering that in a qualifying campaign of 10 matches there will be quite a few refereeing errors made that may cost teams one or three points,or gain them one or three points.Even if you unfairly gain an extra point or two in a particular match,chances are your luck will run out in a later match when a refereeing decision goes against you (and vice versa).

      But a decision going against a team in extra time of the final World Cup play off is always going to have a catastrophic effect on their chances of qualifying.

      • brn442

        December 1, 2009 at 11:17 pm

        I’m sorry Ron but I respectfully disagree with you, points add up.. After all, Ireland missed out on an automatic berth because of such a thing. Ireland’s luck ran out.

  7. Ron

    November 30, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    One other point of interest about this story is that the FAI almost certainly did not want this made public,but it would appear that Blatter has tried to deliberately embarass them.

    The FAI did not make a formal public request to FIFA to be included as a wildcard team,but rather the topic came up in a hour long private meeting between the FAI and Blatter last Friday in which a number of subjects were discussed.From what I can gather,the FAI never intended the discussion to be made public (nobody in Ireland was even aware of this meeting),and now it seems Blatter has embarassed the association by blathering about it in public,to laughter from his FIFA buddies.

    He certainly seems to be acting in bad faith by discussing this as it is obvious he has absolutely no intention of acceeding to their request.

    • Paul Bestall

      November 30, 2009 at 5:45 pm

      Exactly, he’s brought in to the public domain to try and embarrass the FAI to back down, which is typical of the man. He runs FIFA as his personal fiefdom and it’s appalling.

      The laughter from Blatters cronies is quite sickening in my opinion and shows the lack of respect these people have for the competing nations.

  8. kevin_amold

    November 30, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    I’ve long believed that FIFA is so corrupt, only the corruption of the IOC surpasses it. The circus-like atmosphere surrounding FIFA as of late (Ireland-France, Chile) is merely confirming it.

  9. oliver

    November 30, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    “The other argument of slowing the game down is also pointless. Ireland’s protestations over Henry’s cheating took over 3 minutes to settle down. Are you telling me it would take 3 minutes for the replay to prove Henry handled it twice? Of course it wouldn’t.”

    Yes, that handball would have been clearly spotted – but if you trace it back, you’ve got two French players offside when the free kick is being taken. At this point, it’s totally subjective whether they’re interfering with play. Then, Dunne drags a French player down which should have been a penalty. After that the ball arrives on Henry’s hand

    So you’ve got the video ref now adjudicating on 3 issues.

    I would bet that if you looked at all goals scored from dead balls, you’ll find a foul somewhere in the box.

    The flip side is that if video technology is brought it, perhaps Dunne wouldn’t have hauled down the French player and Henry wouldn’t have handled as they’d know they’d be caught

  10. john

    November 30, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    fifa are nothing about hypocrites.they walk aroud waving this stupid yellow fair play flag.yet the team that cheated is going to the wc and the team that did every thing fair are going to be watching it on tv.i think everyone from ireland should refuse to watch anything to do with the bit of cheating is after costing a small country like ireland millions in revenue and in the middle of a recession that is no joke.the goverment should sue fifa and thefrench

    • Laurence

      November 30, 2009 at 2:37 pm

      I’m not sure Ireland should remove themselves from the world but I see your sentiment. FIFA looks corrupt but we can’t prove it just yet. Bringing arguments in about the recession doesn’t help anyone right now, it allows them to shift the argument and deflect the problem.

      We should be focusing on changing football all together, not the sport itself but the governing bodies.

      • Paul Bestall

        November 30, 2009 at 2:54 pm

        Agreed Laurence. The last thing we need is bringing the courts in to it, but the game needs wholesale changes at the top. Financially though, it’s a massive loss of revenue for the country as a whole. Perhaps they should all adopt England and hope we draw them in the Quarter Finals. 🙂
        See if you can search for the Panorama episode from 2006 from the BBC. That uncovered so much corruption in FIFA as to be embarrassing.

  11. Mike

    November 30, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    I definitely agree that FIFA needs to open itself up to more democratic principles across the board.

    I do want to say though that I for one am against video replay, I’d rather just see an extra official brought in whose job it is to only watch the goal line area. I think that would appease those who want video replay AND those who would rather not have the video replay brought in.

    • Paul Bestall

      November 30, 2009 at 2:25 pm

      Hi Mike,

      well the argument for extra officials went during the Fulham v Roma game when the extra official pointed out the wrong player to be sent off. Human error will always occur unless you can hot wire the brain to transmit what it saw. As police forces have found over the years, eye witness testimony can be far from infallible. Too much is at stake these days for me for people to rely on recall over video.

      • Phil McThomas

        November 30, 2009 at 9:50 pm

        No-one should pretend that adding the assistants behind the goals will provide infallibility.

        NEWS FLASH! Video will be used to overturn a decision that was made correctly on the field, should it ever be introduced.

        Why not use extra officials AND video evidence?

  12. The Gaffer

    November 30, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Does anyone else find it ironic that FIFA will be meeting on Thursday at a place called Robben Island? I know it’s a infamous island that’s very symbolic, but the first thing I thought of when I heard it was the famous diver Arjen Robben.

    The Gaffer

  13. Ron

    November 30, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Well said Paul.I wonder if the same bunch of Blatter’s cronies would have laughed out loud if France,Germany or Italy had submitted such a request to be included in the World Cup.They laughed at the temerity of a small country like Ireland making such a request,as if the idea was presposterous in the extreme.

    I’m a bit depressed too that Blatter lumped Ireland in with Costa Rica,as if Ireland had missed out on a World Cup as the result of a simple refereeing error just as happened with Costa Rica who lost to a goal by Uruguay which was subsequently shown to be offside.

    If Blatter thinks the reason there was a storm of protest around Europe is because France qualified through a simple refereeing mistake,he is completely out of touch with reality.The reason there was so much anger was that France were seen to have cheated their way through to the World Cup finals.

    If Ireland had missed out because of an offside goal,or a mistaken penalty decision or disallowed goal,there would have been no appeal from their football association.To compare the France-Ireland match to Costa Rica-Uruguay is absurd,as there was no cheating in the latter match.

    • Paul Bestall

      November 30, 2009 at 2:27 pm

      Precisely, Uruguay v Costa Rica was decided by a mistaken decision, Ireland v France certainly wasn’t.
      I wonder what would have happened if it had been the other way around.

  14. Darren

    November 30, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Of course they said no to Ireland going to the World Cup. Having a 33rd team is just plain rediculous. Not to mention a terrible precedent for future issues.
    Was anything mentioned by FIFA about the inclusion (or lack thereof) for video technology during this press conference? This article does not specifically say whether it was brought up or not, and to me, that is the bigger talking point rather than Ireland going to the WC or not at this point. A perfect arguement supporting the inclusion of video technology in the game though. Too much money at stake in the top-tiered leagues of the world not to have it nowadays.

    • Paul Bestall

      November 30, 2009 at 2:29 pm

      Hi Darren,

      Apologies, but I didn’t include the FAI’s request, though they are all fair. I’ve included them below for you to ponder but I agree with all of them.

      The use of additional goal-line assistant referees for Fifa international matches.
      Further use of video technology for matches at the highest level.
      Stronger provisions to discourage players from engaging in such blatant breaches of the laws of the game.
      Provisions to strengthen referee selection for such important matches.

  15. Peter

    November 30, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    What a fantastic article, full of truth and a glaring reality of how football works. Football is beginning to resemble the government with it’s constant corruption scandals, sexual and racist offences and bigots who are in charge who protect their friends and stuff everyone else. The Irish have the best fanbase in the world, they have players who deserve to play in the World Cup. I am sick of hearing idiots go on about how they would much prefer to see Henry, Ronaldo, Arshavin etc at thw world cup then the likes of John O’shea, Edin Dzeko and Zlatko Dedic. I wouldn’t! I want to see the players who performed best in the games get the rewards, not the supposed “big players”. If these “big players are so arrogant that they expect all these little european countries to wilt when they play them, then they are obviously being backed by the help of their mates FIFA.

    If they can’t stand the pressure of maybe not going to the World Cup then they shouldn’t go. It’s there own fault they are in the play-offs no-one elses. FIFa backs them up because they know that we, the public would rather buy pathetic shirts with the name Henry on it and not O’Shea, and they are right.

    And why on earth did FIFA threaten to ban a deserving country like Chile from the World Cup when the incident in question was made by a domestic club team. When the english clubs were banned from european matches because of Heysel, the national team did not get banned as well.

    The nexxt step for FIFA is to ban Serbia, and say they are not deserving because of Kosovo and reinstate Russia because Roman Abramovich and Vladimir Putin bought Blatter and Platini each a new 150ft yacht. Or why not ban North Korea, because they supposedly have Weapons of Mass Destruction because they have managed to isolate the Iraqi football team over a lie created by our government. They’ll take away they’re Asian Cup trophy next and give it to someone more deserving, like Saudi Arabia, their oil rich tycoon friends.

    You may think I am being incredibly cynical, but this is how sport and the world works. You really think their going to think twice about this decision. Ireland could be on their hands and knees begging and still Blatter and Platini would say NO!

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