Any semi-serious follower of the game of soccer feels badly for Ireland's national team.
The Irish lost a World Cup finals berth to France on the strength of an extra-time goal scored by William Gallas moments after teammate Thierry Henry twice handled the ball.
Everyone on the planet saw it. Everyone except the referee, that is.
Ireland made several appeals for a replay, for redress, all turned down.
And now Fifa boss Sepp Blatter suggests the Irish are making an even stranger request.
The Irish would like to be the 33rd team at South Africa 2010.
At least, that is what Blatter said today, in South Africa, ahead of the Final Draw scheduled for Friday.
In this story, Blatter said the Irish asked today to join the World Cup as an extra team. How a tournament with 33 might work, Blatter didn't address.
Given the black eye that Fifa got, deservedly, for the way the Ireland match in France ended, and the now-instinctive cynicism I bring to all Fifa pronouncements ... we would be remiss if we failed to note that we have no source out of Ireland's federation confirming they made any such request.
It would not strike me as out of the realm of the possible if Blatter took some throwaway line and pushed it forward as a formal request, just to make Ireland look silly.
At this point in the proceedings, Fifa is as likely to take vows of poverty as add a 33rd team.
And if Ireland actually made that request, in the light of day ... well, yes. Then the Irish are being silly.