Sports

FIFA admits writing off $5M loan to Ireland after contentious handball

Nov. 18, 2009: Ireland's goalkeeper Shay Given (L) reacts after controversial goal by France's William Gallas (2nd R) where team captain Thierry Henry touched the ball during their World Cup qualifying playoff match at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis near Paris. (Reuters)

Nov. 18, 2009: Ireland's goalkeeper Shay Given (L) reacts after controversial goal by France's William Gallas (2nd R) where team captain Thierry Henry touched the ball during their World Cup qualifying playoff match at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis near Paris. (Reuters)

FIFA admitted Thursday to writing off a $5 million loan to Ireland in compensation for a handball not seen by the referee that set up the winning goal for the French and denied Ireland a place in the 2010 World Cup finals.

The payment, initially a loan, was not disclosed following the 2009 playoff game, which France won 2-1 on aggregate to reach the finals in South Africa.

French striker Thierry Henry handled the ball in extra-time and in doing so set up a goal, giving the French a 2-1 aggregate win and sending France to the finals. The foul was not spotted by the referee at the time.

The cash from FIFA was first disclosed in public on Thursday by Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney, who didn't say it was a loan.

FIFA says it granted the loan "to put an end to any claims against FIFA," but it would have to be reimbursed if Ireland qualified for the 2014 World Cup.

After Ireland failed to qualify, FIFA said the loan was written off.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.