By Chris Harris
Arsène Wenger has urged the French Football Federation to offer Ireland a replay of their World Cup play-off and ensure “justice in sport”.
The Irish have been seething since Thierry Henry’s now infamous handball in the build-up to France’s equaliser in Paris on Wednesday night.
That goal - scored by William Gallas - eliminated Ireland from the World Cup but the FAI’s appeal for a replay has since been rejected by Fifa.
Henry admitted on Friday that a replay would be “the fairest solution” and his old boss agreed when the question was posed at Wenger’s pre-match press conference.
“I feel so, yes,” said the Frenchman.
“I don’t know [if it is likely], it’s not my problem, I can only give you my feeling. We want to beat Ireland properly and that didn’t happen. It’s as simple as that. At the end of the day you can talk and talk and talk, or you make a decision to replay or not replay.
“I like justice in sport, and I believe football has a big responsibility today to see how we want international life to go on, and to be an example for people who watch the game.
“That is part of the values football wants to defend.
“We have a situation now, and I believe there are only two options: one, that France offers to replay, which I support personally. The second option is that Fifa make a decision on that issue. Can we make sure that doesn’t happen again?”
Wenger famously offered Sheffield United an FA Cup replay in February 1999 after Kanu collected a throw-in intended to restart play after an injury and set up Marc Overmars for the winning goal.
Ironically Wenger’s opposite number that day was Steve Bruce – the man in charge of Arsenal’s next opponents, Sunderland. But the Frenchman thinks it’s wrong to compare that FA Cup controversy with this week’s incident.
“That [controversial goal in 1999] wasn’t because of a referee’s mistake,” said Wenger.
“It was because of misconduct on the fair-play side from our side. In fact, the problem we had was to get the game replayed as there was no basic mistake rule-wise, on the side of the law.”Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 20 Nov 2009