Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thierry Henry's handball

The Hand of Frog. Everybody knows about it, everybody has an opinion about it. Here's mine, albeit a bit late.

I was on holiday when I saw this on CNN. At first I just wanted to find out the score, as I knew France won 1-0 in Ireland. As I was watching the highlights, Ireland was 1-0 up and the game went into overtime. France got a freekick and scored. My first reaction: offside! Two french players were clearly offside. Then the slow-motion replay showed that Thierry Henry handled the ball before Gallas headed it into the net.

The same confusion can be seen and heard on the youtube clip I posted. The french commentator said it was a clear offside and then realised Henry handled the ball.

So What?

"So What?" indeed. For me the bigger issue is that because of that handball, France is going to the World Cup and not Ireland. The game was tight and at that moment both teams still had a chance (it wasn't as if the French were up 2-0 already).

Yeah, but players cheat all the time and refs always make mistakes
True. But players who cheat don't go become all honest straight after the game. Thierry Henry came clean straight after the game. Either you come clean directly to the ref or keep it for a couple of weeks before coming clean. And refs do make mistakes, that is part of the game. But as a ref, if you see six or seven players claim a handball, then something must have been wrong. The ref did consult his assistant but they both didn't see anything.

A replay?
No. A replay will set the wrong precedent. If this game is replayed, then slowly every other team will want a replay. I can imagine Chelsea asking for every European game to be replayed and any team who lost against Man Utd will do the same. No replay, the ref has blown the whistle and the result should stand.

FIFA is corrupt that's why there will be no replay.
FIFA is definitely corrupt, no doubting that. But if it was Robbie Keane who handled for the Irish winning game, FIFA would still do the same. Partly it's because its run by fools (Sepp Blatter was put in UEFA by a certain Adi Dassler, he worked in the watch industry without any football experience before that!) and partly it's because the rules say so.

So what should be done then?
I believe that Thierry Henry should be given a punishment and the best one is that he shouldn't be allowed to play in South Africe. Divers and aggresive tacklers do get punishment after the game, so Henry should get one too. Although I doubt that will happen because Henry is a big name and carries a lot of sponsorship too. And FIFA should try putting another linesman on the backline (which they are trying to do for the World Cup).

Didn't Roy Keane blame the Irish?

Yeah but he's a grumpy old man.