Robbie Keane has launched a scathing attack on football's governing bodies after the Republic of Ireland's World Cup dreams were shattered in Paris.
The 29-year-old Tottenham striker's anger at FIFA's belated decision to seed the play-off draw, which put the Irish at a disadvantage, was compounded by the controversial extra-time goal which saw France eventually scrape through 2-1 on aggregate in Paris on Wednesday night. Swedish referee Martin Hansson missed French captain Thierry Henry handling the ball before he crossed for William Gallas to finally end the Republic's brave resistance at the Stade de France.
"It's an easy decision to do the seedings, isn't it? said Keane. "They are all probably clapping hands, [UEFA President Michel] Platini sitting up there on the phone to [FIFA President] Sepp Blatter, probably texting each other, delighted with the result."
He added: "France and Germany had a chance of being in the play-offs as well, two massive countries.
"There was no way in a million years it was going to be a fair draw - and it wasn't."
The game was 13 minutes into the first period of extra-time when Henry controlled the ball, apparently twice using his hand, before crossing for William Gallas to send their country to next summer's finals in South Africa.
Keeper Shay Given led the furious protests, but Mr Hansson waved all appeals away.
"I'm devastated, to be honest with you. It's very hard to speak now because of the way we played," added Keane. "We thoroughly deserved to win the game, there's no question about that, but clearly they got away with it at the end with the handball.
"We have seen it - we knew anyway. You could see by the reaction of the players, Shay especially. He was two yards away from it, and you don't get a reaction like that unless he is sure it's a handball.
"He [Henry] almost caught it and actually ran into the net with it, so obviously, we are all devastated."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: https://www.givemesport.com/writeforgms