Survey: France do not deserve to qualify

PARIS - Most people in France do not think their football team deserves to be in the 2010 World Cup and did not approve of Thierry Henry's handball that helped secure a finals place, according to an opinion poll published on Sunday.

Henry clearly handled the ball when setting up a late, decisive goal in the second leg of their playoff against Ireland last week, winning France a place in the World Cup finals.

But an OpinionWay poll for French state television said 81 percent of French people did not think their national team deserved to go to South Africa given their unconvincing performances throughout the qualifying stages.

An even bigger 88 percent said Henry was wrong to have used his hand to keep the ball in play and thereby create the vital scoring opportunity.

The contested victory has dominated French media over the past five days, with much soul searching about the notion of fair play in sport.

Henry, who has been vilified on the Internet, has denied cheating and said he wanted to see a replay against Ireland.

World soccer's governing body FIFA has ruled that the result should stand and that France rather than Ireland should take part in the World Cup.

OpinionWay pollsters questioned 1,003 people on November 20-21.