Messi: Henry not to blame for France furore

PARIS - Thierry Henry should not solely be blamed for his part in the controversial goal that sent France to the 2010 World Cup finals, Ballon d'Or winner and Barcelona team mate Lionel Messi said.

"I think Thierry did what he had to do, he apologised," the Argentina forward told a news conference on Sunday after the Ballon d'Or prize-giving ceremony organized in Paris by French Magazine France Football and France TV channel TF1.

"I also believe that it was just an incident during a game of football, the referee didn't see it, the linesman didn't see it."

"One shouldn't pin everything on Thierry," he added in answering a question on FIFA's decision to investigate France striker Henry's blatant handball against Ireland in their playoff in Paris last month.

FIFA rejected Ireland's request for a replay after Henry's actions helped France to get a 2-1 aggregate win.

Messi, who became the first Argentine to be awarded the prestigious Ballon d'Or award on December 1, helped treble-winning Barcelona lift the Champions League title with nine goals, as well as bagging 23 in the league and six in the King's Cup.

He said his main objective was now "to win the World Cup."

"We have been drawn in a difficult group because Nigeria have some very good players and South Korea and Greece could be a problem," he said.

"A (first knockout) game against France would be very difficult because France are a great team but we'll have first to concentrate on going through the first round."