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Henry faces FIFA rap over handball

Henry's handball has provoked a storm of controversy as France qualified for the World Cup finals.
Henry's handball has provoked a storm of controversy as France qualified for the World Cup finals.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Thierry Henry face disciplinary action over his handball in World Cup playoff match
  • FIFA president Sepp Blatter says their disciplinary committee will investigate
  • FIFA rules out use of extra officials or video technology at the finals
  • Blatter apologizes to Irish officials for comments made over their request to be 33rd team
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(CNN) -- Thierry Henry could face FIFA disciplinary action over his handball which helped France to qualify for the finals of the 2010 World Cup at the expense of Ireland.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter told reporters in Cape Town that the Barcelona striker's "blatant unfair play" could land him in hot water.

"The FIFA disciplinary committee will open an investigation ... concerning the behavior of the player Thierry Henry," he said.

"It was blatant unfair play and was seen all around the world. I don't know the outcome of the disciplinary committee, let them make the decision.

"Fair play must be maintained in our game."

Blatter was speaking after an extraordinary meeting of the FIFA executive committee, which was convened to consider the refereeing controversy in the France - Ireland match, incidents surrounding the Algeria - Egypt playoff tie and matchfixing in Europe.

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It had been widely trailed that the FIFA executive would sanction the use of two extra officials behind both goal lines in World Cup.

But Blatter said that the finals in South Africa was too soon to introduce the system which has been used in the second-tier European club tournament this year.

"The experiments with the Europa League shall go on into the knockout stages next year but it has been decided, for the World Cup 2010, there is no change in the refereeing: one referee, two assistants and a fourth official."

He went on to say that there would be further investigation into both video technology and additional referees.

"We shall have a look at technology or additional persons and this shall be done by a committee but not the referees committee alone, it will be done by the football, technical and medical committees, too," he added.

It was blatant unfair play and was seen all around the world
--Sepp Blatter on Henry's handball

Ireland were denied a place in the finals by a goal that should have been disallowed because Henry used his hand to control the ball before setting up William Gallas to score the aggregate decider in the second leg in the Stade de France.

Ireland subsequently launched two appeals, the first for the match to be replayed, the second for them to be added to the line-up for the finals as the 33rd team.

Both have been rejected, but Blatter was forced to apologize to the Irish for making public their supposedly private bid to be included as an extra team.

Blatter put their request into the public domain in light-hearted comments made in Johannesburg, which left Irish football officials infuriated and insulted.

"I would like to express my regrets for the wrong interpretation of what I said. I regret what I have created and I'm sorry to the Ireland football confederation for these headlines going around the world," he said.

"It's a pity I communicated in this way. Sorry again."