5 Jun 2015

Irish FA reveal FIFA paid off court action

4:20 pm on 5 June 2015

The chief executive of the Irish football association says FIFA paid 5 million euros ($NZ8m) to avoid a legal case over a controversial World Cup playoff defeat in 2009.

The French footballer Thierry Henry controls the ball with his hand against Ireland.

The French footballer Thierry Henry controls the ball with his hand against Ireland. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Ireland were knocked out by France in a two-legged playoff to qualify for the 2010 South Africa tournament, with the decisive goal in the second leg coming after a handball by French striker Thierry Henry in extra time.

Former Arsenal and Barcelona striker Henry blatantly stopped the ball going out of play with his hand, before crossing for William Gallas to score.

The game in Paris ended 1-1 with France progressing to the finals 2-1 on aggregate.

With moral outrage over the goal in Ireland and beyond, FIFA president Sepp Blatter revealed that the FAI had asked the governing body to be handed a "33rd place" in the World Cup at a confidential meeting to discuss a possible replay.

FAI chief executive John Delaney criticised Blatter at the time for his handling of the incident and accused the Swiss of being "disrespectful".

"It was a payment to the association... not to proceed with a legal case," Delaney said.

"We felt we had a legal case against FIFA because of how the World Cup hadn't worked out because of the Thierry Henry handball, also the way (Sepp) Blatter behaved if you remember on stage, having a snigger, having a laugh at us.

"So that day when I went in and told him how I felt about him... there were some expletives used, we came to an agreement.

"That was the Thursday and on Monday the agreement was all signed and all done. It was a very good agreement for the FAI, a very legitimate agreement for the FAI."

Delaney did not reveal the exact amount FIFA paid, but said: "I'm bound by confidentiality from naming the figure. You used a figure there... well done to you."

Henry's handball became known as "Le Hand of God" -- a reference to Diego Maradona's handball goal against England at the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico.

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