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Finally Sepp says sorry

IT'S little consolation to Irish fans on the day that the World Cup reaches the quarter-final stage, but Sepp Blatter has apologised to the FAI for the dramatic incident in Paris which robbed the Ireland team of a place in the finals.

Meanwhile, the FAI today dismissed suggestions that Fabio Capello's England are due to visit Lansdowne Road for a friendly this year, and it's been revealed today that Norway will face Ireland in a friendly at Lansdowne Road in November.

The issue of using video technology to make a call on important decisions in games has become a hot potato for FIFA in South Africa due to controversial goals in games involving England and Mexico, and it has turned Irish minds back to that night in the Stade de France in November when Thierry Henry's handball set up the winning goal for William Gallas.

FIFA offered no consolation to Irish fans or players at the time but FAI Chief Executive John Delaney today revealed that FIFA president Sepp Blatter made a private apology over the failure by the referee or assistant ref to spot the handball.

"I think November shook him," Delaney said of the under-fire Blatter.

"He subsequently apologised publicly as to how he behaved. He did that privately. I'm not going to go into details on a private meeting.

"He spoke about Maradona in '86 and the French player (Patrick Battiston) and Harald Schumacher (in 1982).

"I just said to him 'When is it going to stop?'

"But apologies are fine, it's easy to say sorry to Mexico, it's easy to say sorry to England and I think he knows there is pressure being brought to bear from people who want to reform the game but what actions will follow? That's what I want to see but I'll be surprised if there are changes," added Delaney.

The FAI completed the line-up of international dates for 2010 by announcing that the Norwegians will play a friendly in Dublin, most likely on Tuesday November 16.