‘FIFA payment to Ireland a joke’

Berlin, June 5 (IANS) German football federation president Wolfgang Niersbach has termed FIFA’s payment to Ireland over a controversial refereeing decision as “a joke”.

Ireland lost a playoff match for the 2010 World Cup qualification after an infamous handball by French striker Thierry Henry.

World football’s governing body FIFA on Thursday admitted paying the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) 5 million euros (3.6 million pounds) as compensation to stop any legal action after France controversially beat Ireland.

Wolfgang Niersbach, the president of the German football federation and a FIFA executive committee member, criticised FIFA’s decision to agree on a compensation.

During the game in Paris in 2009, Henry stopped the ball going out of play with his hand before crossing for French defender William Gallas to score in extra time. The match ended 1-1 with France progressing to the finals by winning 2-1 on aggregate.

“It is a joke that they paid this money out to stop the Irish taking them in front of court,” Niersbach was quoted as saying by German television station ZDF on Friday.

The Irish football authorities and government unsuccessfully petitioned for the game to be replayed or for Ireland to be admitted to the 32-nation World Cup in South Africa as a 33rd team.

But when FIFA refused to entertain those Irish claims, FAI threatened legal action against FIFA after missing out on a legitimate entry into the 2010 World Cup and subsequently accepted a huge payment.

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