London, Nov. 21 (ANI): Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has urged France to replay their World Cup qualifier with Ireland, saying the pride of his country was at stake.
The Frenchman has asked the French Football Federation to make a special plea to FIFA, who rejected the FAI's appeal on Thursday to have the game played again.
Wenger also wants French soccer chiefs to help Thierry Henry whose double handball led to France's decisive goal in Paris on Wednesday.
"I think the French Football Federation has to call for a replay. Thierry has done so much for French football that French football has to help him. I think the credibility of France going to the World Cup finals next year is depending on that," The Sun quoted Wenger, as saying.
"Don't believe that in France people say 'let them talk'. It's not true. I listened to debates last night in France and, ohhh, they're not happy. What is for sure, I was in Paris on the night. I didn't see one French flag after the game, not one," he added.
Wenger is revered in his homeland and his words are expected to carry a lot of weight.
The majority of the French population have roundly condemned the way Les Bleus and Henry cheated Ireland out of a possible World Cup place.
"Overall I'm very proud of the deep reaction in France. Everybody said that's not right. I just say, as a Frenchman, I was quite amazed by how strong the response to that situation was. France did not deserve to go through, Ireland did. But you can't blame France for that," he said.
However, Wenger leaped to Henry's defence and said: "He has come out and said 'I made a mistake, I touched the ball with my hand'. That is honest. He's not a guy who wants to win in a petty way.
He's a guy who wants to be classy which he is basically and that's why Henry can come out and say 'that's not me that's not how I want to play'." (ANI)