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Irish players were furious after referee Martin Hansson, right, allowed the French goal to stand. ((Michael Steele/Getty Images) )

The Swedish referee who failed to spot Thierry Henry's handball in the World Cup playoff between France and Ireland says the incident wasn't his fault.

Martin Hansson said in Tuesday's edition of regional Swedish newspaper Sydostran that he was not to blame, nor were his linesmen, as all their views of the play were obstructed.

"I realize that it was not my fault. It was an unfortunate event that had big consequences for Ireland, but it wasn't the fault of the refereeing team," Hansson said.

"At first, I thought all the fuss was just about the goal itself but it wasn't. What's more, the graphic [a graphic reproduction of the play] clears the whole refereeing team in this incident."

The 38-year-old Hansson, a professional referee since 1992, said the criticism that followed made him wonder whether it was worth continuing his eight-year career as an international referee.

Is job worth 'degradation'?

"I thought: Is the job really worth all this degradation that I have to hear? Maybe this is not my thing," said Hansson, adding that even his parents had been hounded by journalists wanting to photograph their house.

Henry's handball last week set up an equalizer for teammate William Gallas in the playoff that gave France a 1-1 draw with Ireland and a 2-1 win on aggregate, advancing the team to next year's tournament in South Africa at the expense of the Irish.

Although the handball appeared clear, it was not spotted by the referee or linesman and the goal stood. Ireland appealed for a replay but FIFA rejected it.

Hansson is due to return to refereeing in the UEFA Champions League on Dec. 8 or 9, and is looking forward to getting back on the pitch.

"It feels good to get a match so soon after this unfortunate episode," he said. "But best of all has been the support I've had from players and team officials."

Henry said Monday the incident also pushed him to the brink of international retirement.