Soccer fans march to French embassy

Sat, Nov 21, 2009, 00:00

About 200 soccer fans marched to the French embassy in Dublin today to call for a rematch of Ireland’s disputed World Cup playoff against France.

About 100 protesters started marching from Landsdowne Road at 2pm and this doubled by the time they reached the French embassy.

Organisers made speeches on loudspeakers to ask French diplomats to intervene and organise a replay. The crowd responded with chants of “fair play is replay” and “you’ll never cheat the Irish”.

About 20 French people attended the protest. Lucile de Saint-Michel, who lives in Portobello, Dublin, said “I’m very shocked the Irish got cheated out of a victory. The Irish played better than the French in Paris. It wasn’t a pretty game.”

However, French support for Thierry Henri, who admitted to a handball, remained high. It’s so sad it should happen to him. He is Mr Nice Guy. It’s the ref’s fault and it’s up to Fifa to put it right,” Ms de Saint-Michel said.

However, anti-Henri sentiments predominated among the Irish, who chanted "same old Henri, always cheating".

Tony Barry from Dublin City Centre said he was disappointed with the turnout. “About 300,000 people joined a Facebook group to support us. I was expecting thousands to be here. I don’t know why so few have turned up but I think it could be the weather,” he said.

Kev Storrs promoted the protest on social networking site Facebook. More than 1,000 people said they would attend.