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November 25, 2009

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FIFA to hold talks over handball row

FIFA will hold an extraordinary meeting before next month's World Cup draw to discuss Thierry Henry's handball in the qualifiers and the discovery of a match-fixing ring by German police.

The trouble surrounding the Algeria-Egypt qualifier could also be on the agenda at the executive meeting to be held in Cape Town on December 2, two days before the World Cup draw.

"Due to recent events in the world of football, namely incidents at the playoffs for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, match control (refereeing) and irregularities in the football betting market, the FIFA president (Sepp Blatter) has called an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee," FIFA said.

The executive committee is already due to meet on December 3 on Robben Island to discuss the draw to be held the following day.

FIFA has so far refused to take any action over Henry's handball in the lead-up to France's equalizer against Ireland. The goal, scored by William Gallas, gave it a 1-1 draw and a 2-1 aggregate win in the two-leg playoff.

Ireland's FA formally asked for a replay of the match but FIFA said on Friday it had replied saying the request could not be granted.

Henry said the outcry over his handball pushed him to the brink of international retirement. The Barcelona striker has been upset by the virulent criticism he received from former players and politicians, but worse still for the veteran forward with 117 caps and 51 goals was the lack of support from the French football federation.

"I had the (France) coach (Raymond Domenech) and many, many calls from players, coaches, people I had lost contact with who supported me," Henry said. "But those who should have come to the front line to support me -- to appease what was happening in France and particularly to appease what was happening in England ... no one came."

Henry said he received no contact from the FFF until after he had released a statement apologizing and saying it would be fair to replay the match.


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