Henry - Replay would be fair

Image: Henry: Instinctive reaction

Thierry Henry believes the fairest solution would be to replay France's play-off against Ireland, but insists he is not a cheat.

France striker insists he is not a cheat after controversial handball

Thierry Henry has issued a statement in response to claims he 'cheated' to earn France a World Cup final place at the expense of the Republic of Ireland. The striker handled the ball twice in the build-up to creating William Gallas' goal in extra-time on Wednesday night which earned France a 2-1 aggregate success. Ireland's players were left enraged by the incident, leading to accusations that Henry is a 'cheat' and that the game should be replayed. Fifa has confirmed the match will not be allowed to take place again and, while Henry feels a replay would be the fairest solution, he is adamant he did not deliberately cheat. Here is Henry's statement in full: "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. "Of course the fairest solution would be to replay the game, but it is not in my control. "There is little more I can do apart from admit that the ball had contact with my hand leading up to our equalising goal and I feel very sorry for the Irish."

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