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Henry handball no longer an issue, says France coach

Football Soccer - Arsenal v Newcastle United - Barclays Under 21 Premier League - Emirates Stadium - 15/16 - 8/4/16 Former Arsenal player Thierry Henry Action Images via Reuters / Alan Walter
Football Soccer - Arsenal v Newcastle United - Barclays Under 21 Premier League - Emirates Stadium - 15/16 - 8/4/16Former Arsenal player Thierry HenryAction Images via Reuters / Alan Walter

PARIS (Reuters) - Thierry Henry's infamous handball in a qualification playoff game for the 2010 World Cup against Ireland will play no role when the two teams meet on Sunday for a place in the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, France coach Didier Deschamps said on Saturday.

"I don't think it will have any influence for either team," Deschamps told a news conference on the eve of the game in Lyon.

"I will not use it and I don't think my Ireland counterpart Martin O'Neill will either."

France qualified for the 2010 World Cup courtesy of a controversial 1-1 draw in the return leg of their playoff with Ireland, in November 2009 at Stade de France.

Henry blatantly handled the ball before setting up William Gallas for France's equaliser deep into extra time.

"Seeking revenge is not something you do in top-level football, especially after so many years have gone by," Deschamps said. "This is a new story for both teams".

Ireland manager Martin O'Neill did say the 2009 drama would be extra motivation for his players but he insisted they had plenty of it regardless of the lasting effects of that moment of injustice.

France goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris said he shared Deschamps's view that the incident belonged to the past.

"I don't know if they will want revenge but for us, it's history," he said. "I think all the teams have an extra motivation when they play, just because they want to beat the host nation".

(Writing by Patrick Vignal, editing by Ed Osmond)

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