MARTIN HANSSON, the Swedish referee who oversaw Ireland’s World Cup play-off game against France in Paris where he controversially allowed William Gallas’ decisive goal to stand despite Thierry Henry’s double handball in the build-up, has been selected as one of the 30 match officials to go to South Africa.
The 38-year-old, who subsequently acknowledged his error and apologised for it, made the final cut at a meeting of Fifa’s Referees Committee in Zurich where the selection was made from a 54 -strong list of candidates.
However, Fredrik Nilsson, Hansson’s assistant who missed both the handball and the offside that preceded it, will not be going to the finals.
Fifa make the selection based on teams of three and the Swede will be accompanied at the competition by his other assistant from the Stade de France, Stefan Wittberg, as well as Henrik Andren.
The decision to include Hansson in the final group will be viewed as controversial for the error in Ireland’s game was not the Swede’s only high-profile mistake over the last couple of years.
But Fifa officials had insisted in the wake of November’s play-off game that their final decision would be based on a long-running assessment of his performances and suggested even then that he stood a very good chance of travelling.
All of the officials came in for criticism after the game, with even the Swedish media suggesting that they should not officiate at the finals.
Nilsson, though, was subjected to particular disparagement and the scale of his error may have cost him the opportunity of participating at the finals.
Other well-known European referees named on the list include Howard Webb of England, Germany’s Wolfgang Stark and Roberto Rosetti, the Italian who mistakenly sent off Darren Fletcher for what he felt was a foul on Cesc Fabregas in the Champions league semi-final last season.