Le Hand of God gifts FIFA a present
FIFA got its way last night as France and Portgual both progressed through the play-offs and into next year’s World Cup.
Although Russia succumbed to Slovenia, leaving Guus Hiddink questioning if it was really worth leaving Chelsea, seeding the play-offs worked out for FIFA’s bean counters, as the two heavyweights made it through.
Portugal negotiated their way past Bosnia with surprising ease, even without Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo’s status as the world’s best player has resulted in many saying the World Cup would be significantly worse without him in it and I agree, but not for this reason.
I am in favour Portugal’s qualification, as it will surely reduce the chance of Ronaldo being photographed in his tighty-whiteys next summer.
France’s victory over Ireland was infinitely more controversial, as Thierry Henry’s juggling allowed William Gallas to grab the crucial equaliser, proving that the “luck of the Irish” is an urban myth like Saddam Hussein’s gay porn career.
Today the FAI called on FIFA to replay the match, which could be staged in Sudan for no known reason, as with the Algeria v Egypt play-off.
There is more chance of Sepp Blatter impregnating Giovanni Trapattoni than there is of him agreeing to replay the match.
There will no World Cup newbies appearing in South Africa, but New Zealand only having to defeat New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu and Bahrain to claim a place shows that there will be much weaker sides than Ireland at the tournament.
Ireland claimed two draws against reigning champions Italy in qualifying, whereas New Zealand were defeated 2-0 by Fiji.
Greece and Ukraine competed for Europe’s final qualifying slot, with Greece sneaking through 1-0 on aggregate.
Greece, as Euro 2004 champions, were the seeded side, but in Andriy Shevchenko Ukraine had the only past or present superstar in either team.
Greece has never produced a footballing superstar and after a history of producing superstar mathematicians, philosophers and scientists to begin doing so now would take dumbing down to a new extreme.
Regardless they will take their place in South Africa, along with France, Portugal, New Zealand, North Korea and Honduras, but alas not Ireland.