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Henry: A replay would be the fairest solution

Thierry Henry thinks that France and Ireland should replay their World Cup playoff match on Wednesday. The Barcelona forward released a statement in the wake of the continuing controversy over his handball which resulted in William Gallas's crucial equalizer.

'Naturally I feel embarrassed at the way that we won and feel extremely sorry for the Irish who definitely deserve to be in South Africa," the statement reads. 'Of course the fairest solution would be to replay the game but it is not in my control.'

Henry twice handled the ball before crossing to William Gallas who pounced to score the goal which secured France's passage to next year's World Cup in South Africa. Despite protests from the Irish players, referee Martin Hansson and his assistants failed to spot the foul.

The former Arsenal captain's statement continued: 'I have said at the time and I will say again that yes I handled the ball. I am not a cheat and never have been. It was an instinctive reaction to a ball that was coming extremely fast in a crowded penalty area.'

'As a footballer you do not have the luxury of the television to slow the pace of the ball down 100 times to be able to make a conscious decision. People are viewing a slow motion version of what happened and not what I or any other footballer faces in the game. If people look at it in full speed you will see that it was an instinctive reaction.'

'It is impossible to be anything other than that. I have never denied that the ball was controlled with my hand. I told the Irish players, the referee and the media this after the game.'

'Naturally I feel embarrassed at the way that we won and feel extremely sorry for the Irish who definitely deserve to be in South Africa. There is little more I can do apart from admit that the ball had contact with my hand leading up to our equalizing goal and I feel very sorry for the Irish.'

The Irish Football Association has asked both Fifa and the French Football Federation for a replay, however, both bodies formally rejected the request earlier today.

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