Sepp Blatter set to offer Ireland some 'moral' compensation

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FIFA president Sepp Blatter says he is considering a special award for the Republic of Ireland after the country missed out on a place in next year's World Cup finals.

The Irish lost out in a play-off match last month against France, who scored a decisive extra-time goal in the Stade de France following Thierry Henry's now infamous handball.

Blatter, speaking at a news conference held in the prison hall at Robben Island ahead of today's draw for the World Cup finals in South Africa, ruled out financial compensation for the Irish.

He said that paying the FAI would only lead to more countries demanding compensation for incorrect refereeing decisions. However, he admitted he is considering some kind of special award for the Republic.

"If you start to compensate teams that are not qualified, then there are others that are coming too," Blatter explained.

"But when it comes to this final match where all the world saw the obvious foul play, then there may be moral compensation. We will have a look at that." Asked what he meant by "moral compensation", Blatter said it could be a special award or a prize.

Yesterday's offer of moral compensation is just the latest twist in a saga that simply refuses to go away.

The Republic of Ireland initially tried – and failed – to get their European qualifying play-off match against the French replayed after Henry handled the ball in the build-up to William Gallas's crucial goal.

And this week, Blatter revealed that the Irish also approached Fifa with a view to getting an extra place at the World Cup and becoming the 33rd team to go to South Africa. Fifa also threw out that suggestion, and Blatter later apologised for revealing the Irish proposal to the media.

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