The Hand of Henry


Last week I was asked to write a piece on the Henry handball incident, here is what I came up with…


Most people with a passion for football or sport in general will have heard about the debacle that was the Republic of Ireland’s exit from the World Cup a couple of weeks ago. If you’re Irish I suspect you think this is the biggest injustice ever, if you are French you will probably be thinking this a massive overreaction and entirely inconsequential and the rest of you just won’t really care. Of course, you could be Roy Keane (who I hope is reading this) and be Irish and not give a damn, in fact I think his exact words were ‘get over it’.

Let me run you through what happened as a recap… after being awarded a dubious penalty against Georgia Ireland made it through to the World Cup qualifying playoffs, and were drawn to play France. I say ‘drawn’ but thanks to the genius (ludicrous) ranking system it hardly counted as a draw, more accurately FIFA trying to pick who they want in the World Cup. The first leg at Croke Park finished 0-1, with Ireland squandering a number of decent chances. The second leg saw Ireland equalise and take the tie to extra time, once again having squandered a number of decent chances. In the dying minutes of the 2nd half of extra time a cross found its way to the back post where Thierry Henry controlled it, intentionally, with his hand twice and squared the ball to Gallas who shouldered it in.

Now, there are a number of angles this article could go down, talking about how this is not the first time Henry has cheated to get ahead, how this is not the first controversy to surround the French national team, or how everyone who has ever played for Arsenal ends up being a cheat. But no, instead I want to talk a little about the Irish’s ridiculous claims for a rematch and now even asking to be the 33rd team in the tournament. Straight away, though it pains me to do so, I have to reiterate what Roy Keane said ‘Get Over It’. You do not have precedence for this, the stated Bahrain case is totally different, where the ref didn’t know the laws for encroachment on a penalty. Similar I guess to the LFC vs. SFC beach ball incident, where once again the ref didn’t know the rule. I cannot back this up with evidence, but I am pretty sure that Mr. M Hansson knows the handball rules (not to be mistaken for the rules of the separate sport ‘Handball‘), and just did not see an infringement, the same goes for the assistant. The ball travelled a long way through a very crowded area.

Just imagine if FIFA decided that the best plan was to replay the game, what a terrible state football would then be in, and worse how it would look going forward. A season would never finish, we would be stuck in a time warp of footballing hell, every single week Alex Ferguson and David Moyes would demand their matches replayed because of minor errors by the officials. Finger pointing and accusations of ‘you didn’t give us that penalty, replay!’, ‘he was onside when given off, he was through and would have certainly scored, replay!’, ‘you can clearly see his foot over the line, therefore a foul throw, replay!’. Then in the replay, do both teams have to field exactly the same team? If I was a manager with injury worries for a big game I would make sure that the game was replayed later on when more of my players were fit, something which would be benefiting LFC this season.

There has to be a line which can be drawn under incidents, I am all for getting the right decision all the time but it cannot have a too bigger impact on the great game. The idea of Ireland being the 33rd team in the World Cup is also totally open to abuse, as Sepp Blatter states, there are other teams making claims, namely Costa Rica. I suspect Croatia are probably making a claim too after our clearly unfair destruction of them, twice.

If you haven’t seen the Roy Keane interview you have got to check it out on YouTube, the whole thing is a highlight but make sure you pay close attention when the journo’s phone rings.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. R0bf  •  Dec 8, 2009 @2:55 pm

    Great post Colin. Agreed; can of worms that can’t be opened.

    I’d still like to see Henry banned, don’t care for how long – although maybe from the finals 🙂

    I’d like refs to start using technology. Either side of the fence, pretty much everyone wants the right decision every time. The disruption caused by possibly a few at most small stoppages during a match is well worth it. If millions of people can sit watching the telly while one man receives treatment for an often minor injury for over 2 minutes, why on earth would any of us mind a 30 second delay while the on field ref consults the tv ref?

    Whether or not you think it’s OK to cheat when it’s your own team in the dying minutes of the biggest game ever, there needs to be a process for when things go wrong.

  • MY Disclaimer

    All comments, views and opinions expressed on this site are my own and are not representative of my employer.
  • My Pictures
  • My Library