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Wednesday 19 December 2018

Keane's seeds of anger

Robbie Keane has launched a scathing attack on football's governing bodies after the Republic of Ireland's World Cup dreams were shattered in Paris.

The 29-year-old Tottenham striker's anger at FIFA's belated decision to seed the play-off draw, which put the Irish at a disadvantage, was compounded by the controversial extra-time goal which saw France eventually scrape through 2-1 on aggregate in Paris.

Swedish referee Martin Hansson missed French captain Thierry Henry handling the ball before he crossed for William Gallas to finally end Ireland's brave resistance at the Stade de France.

"It's an easy decision to do the seedings, isn't it?" said Keane.

"They are all probably clapping hands, (UEFA President Michel) Platini sitting up there on the phone to (FIFA President) Sepp Blatter, probably texting each other, delighted with the result.

"France and Germany had a chance of being in the play-offs as well, two massive countries. There was no way in a million years it was going to be a fair draw -- and it wasn't."

Keeper Shay Given led the furious protests, but Hansson waved all appeals away. Keane said: "I'm devastated, to be honest. It's very hard to speak now because of the way we played.

"We thoroughly deserved to win the game, there's no question about that, but clearly they got away with it at the end with the handball.

"We have seen it -- we knew anyway. You could see by the reaction of the players, Shay especially. He was two yards away from it, and you don't get a reaction like that unless he is sure it's a handball. He (Henry) almost caught it and actually ran into the net with it, so obviously, we are all devastated."

Hansson later insisted Henry had controlled the ball with his chest, but Keane and his team-mates were in little doubt that the Frenchman had handled.

Keane said: "He's a top player and he has been for a long time. "But it was a clear handball -- he dragged it from going out.

"People can say what they want about Steve Staunton and how well he did or how well he didn't do, but he brought this team together.

"The gaffer has taken over and established us as a top team. When Stan was involved, we were a young team, but now we are developing into a top team, and we need to continue that now and bring more younger players through."

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