FIFA calls meeting over controversies

LONDON - FIFA will hold an extraordinary meeting before next month's World Cup draw to discuss Thierry Henry's handball in the qualifiers and the discovery of a match-fixing ring by German police.

The trouble surrounding the Algeria-Egypt qualifier could also be on the agenda of the world governing body at an executive meeting to be held in Cape Town on December 2, two days before the World Cup draw.

"Due to recent events in the world of football, namely incidents at the playoffs for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, match control (refereeing) and irregularities in the football betting market, the FIFA president (Sepp Blatter) has called an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee," said FIFA in a statement.

The executive committee is already due to meet on December 3 on Robben Island to discuss the draw to be held the following day.

FIFA has so far refused to take any action over Henry's handball in the lead-up to France's equaliser against Ireland. The goal, scored by William Gallas, gave them a 1-1 draw and a 2-1 aggregate win in the two-leg play-off.

Ireland's FA formally asked for a replay of the match but FIFA said on Friday it had replied saying the request could not be granted.

The Irish governing body issued a statement on Monday saying: "Should we be asked to make any contribution, the FAI would be happy to do so for the improvement of the game."

The Egypt-Algeria qualifiers on November 14 in Cairo and subsequent playoff in Khartoum four days later were also surrounded by controversy.

Egypt recalled their ambassador in Algiers after Algeria won the play-off 1-0 to qualify and both games were marred by reports of trouble.

On Friday, German police said they had dismantled a match-fixing gang with more than 200 suspected members operating in nine European leagues.

Police in Germany, Britain, Austria and Switzerland staged simultaneous raids on Thursday, arresting 15 people in Germany and two in Switzerland.

The gang is suspected of having paid off referees, players and officials to win at least 10 million euros, with officials speculating this was the tip of the iceberg.