‘If FAI got €5m for handball, why can’t we?’

Referee Ovidiu Hategan gives Northern Ireland's Corry Evans a yellow card after making his controversial penalty decision during the 1-0 defeat to Switzerland. Picture: Stephen Davison/Pacemaker
Referee Ovidiu Hategan gives Northern Ireland's Corry Evans a yellow card after making his controversial penalty decision during the 1-0 defeat to Switzerland. Picture: Stephen Davison/Pacemaker

Fans say they are firmly behind any case the IFA might bring to FIFA over a refereeing decision which ultimately cost Northern Ireland a place at the 2018 World Cup.

The Chairman of the Londonderry Northern Ireland Supporters Club, David Dougherty, was amongst those to give his backing to any such action the IFA might take.

Northern Ireland were ruled out of the competition after two play-off games against Switzerland ended with a one-nil scoreline, with the only goal coming from the penalty spot following a controversial ‘handball’ ruling.

The Republic of Ireland were ruled out of the 2010 World Cup in similar circumstances following a blatant handball by French international Thierry Henry which led to the decisive winning goal in their playoff. At that time, the FAI decided to bring a case to world football’s governing body, FIFA. While the case was ultimately dropped, the FAI later revealed that FIFA had paid them €5 million over their World Cup elimination.

Earlier this week, the IFA declined to make any official comment when asked if they might bring a similar case to FIFA. The News Letter understands, however, that the IFA is engaged in discussions with FIFA over the poor refereeing.

Speaking from Munich airport on his way home from the Switzerland match in Basel, Londonderry Northern Ireland Supporters Club Chairman, David Dougherty, said he would support financial compensation for the IFA but did not call for a replay.

“Of course we will back the IFA making as strong of a case as possible but we don’t hold out much hope of there being a replay,” he said.

“If the IFA are seeking some sort of financial recompense then we would absolutely support them, if it was going to go towards promoting youth football or something similar.

“The IFA should absolutely progress with this but from a footballing perspective we all know that sometimes these things happen. Sometimes you’ve just got to take your oil and get on with it.”

He added: “In light of what happened with the FAI I see no reason why the IFA shouldn’t get the same.”

DUP councillor David Ramsey is a member of the same club.

He said: “We know we were beat and you have to take it on the chin, but realistically the referee lost us our chance of winning.

“We and I’m sure the other clubs in the Amalgamation will be asking, demanding, that the IFA take this further.”