A new scandal threatens to rock FIFA after a goal was wrongly allowed to stand that helped to qualify Panama for the World Cup and knock out the United States. It follows on from the controversial goal by France, that involved Thierry Henry handling the ball in the build-up, Ireland that saw them qualify for the 2010 World Cup instead of their opponents. Later it was revealed that FIFA paid the Irish football federation 5 million euros to hush it up: "it was a payment so that we did not take legal action", said FAI president John Delaney.
Now there is another embarrassing situation for FIFA to deal with, where Panama qualified for their first ever World Cup but got their equaliser in the eventual victory over Costa Rica with a goal that should not have been allowed to stand. Gabriel Torres' shot did not even touch the goal line before hitting the post and then being cleared for a corner with the only excuse for referee Walter Lopez that he was unsighted. The win for Panama meant that they went to the World Cup, Honduras to the play-offs and the United States were eliminated while a 1-1 draw would have seen Honduras qualify, the United States go to the play-offs and Panama eliminated.
There are likely consequences with the United States and Honduras able to say they were prejudiced by the decision and could call for the game to be replayed which would have been unthinkable before but now in the present climate is not so implausible. In fact there is already a precedent as South Africa's game with Senegal was replayed due to the level of the refereeing. "FIFA should try and get the game repeated and even more so should ensure that this happens as there is already a precedent", said former FIFA assistant referee Rafael Guerrero. Panama, meanwhile, will say that in the build up to the 'goal' there was a clear penalty claim for a foul on Blas Perez that was waved away by the referee and that prevented him from knocking the ball into an open net.