Republic ask for South Africa berth

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FIFA president Sepp Blatter has claimed the Football Association of Ireland asked to be included in the World Cup finals as an extra team following the Republic of Ireland's controversial play-off exit to France.

The Republic lost to a play-off extra-time goal in Paris scored by William Gallas after Thierry Henry handled the ball in the build-up, and Blatter has admitted for the first time the World Cup play-off system must be examined as a result of Henry's handball and the controversy which surrounded the match.

But he ruled out the Republic being added to South Africa 2010 as team 33, saying: "On one match it is decided if you are in or out and this is not the spirit behind this World Cup. We must have a look at this. There is so much at stake.".

FIFA are holding an extraordinary executive committee meeting on Wednesday to deal with a number pressing issues, with fair play at the top of the agenda following Henry's infamous extra-time handball.

With a replay ruled out, Blatter claimed the FAI had subsequently requested to be included as an extra country at the World Cup.

"Naturally they were unhappy with what happened and asked very humbly whether they could be team number 33," said Blatter.

"I will bring it to the attention of the executive committee but if we do that, we will also have to bring in Costa Rica."

The Costa Ricans believe they too were eliminated unfairly - this time by an offside goal scored by Uruguay - but Blatter's tone suggested it was inconceivable FIFA would add any more countries to the 32-team finals next year.

Blatter also gave the broadest hint yet the use of two extra officials behind the goal , currently being trialled in the Europa League, could be introduced in time for the World Cup.

"It's possible we will make additional officials for the World Cup but we have to see if it is feasible or realistic. Something has to be done in terms of match control."

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Europa League
William Gallas
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