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Swedish media blasts Swedish referees over Thierry Henry debacle

November 19, 2009 | 11:25 am

Soccer It wasn't French striker Thierry Henry who was at fault for cheating, it was Swedish referee Martin Hansson and his two Swedish assistants who were to blame for not spotting the infraction.

So says one of Sweden's top newspapers, Aftonbladet, which said Ireland has every right to be furious with the match officials who on Wednesday failed to see Henry's handball foul that set up the goal that clinched France's place in the 2010 World Cup.

"There are approximately 80 million Irishmen around the world," one Aftonbladet columnist wrote. "We guarantee they all feel pretty bad today.

"But I sincerely hope there are three Swedes who feel even worse. They are Martin Hansson, Stefan Wittberg and Fredrik Nilsson

"There will be no World Cup for Ireland, and I assume that Team Hansson has also forfeited its right to continue to take charge of major international matches. Anything else would be a further insult to the Irish nation."

Meanwhile, Ireland's soccer federation today appealed to FIFA to have the game replayed, but the request was likely to fall on deaf ears.

Having achieved its aim, through fair means or foul, FIFA is not going to reverse course and open the door for France to be kicked out of the World Cup.

-- Grahame L. Jones

Related: Thierry Henry's violation gets a thumbs-down in Europe

Photo: Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given, left, argues with referee Martin Hansson after France scores a goal during a World Cup qualifying match on Wednesday. Credit: Francois Mori / Associated Press