Thoughts On The Henry Handball Debacle

Thoughts On The Henry Handball Debacle

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On December 3, 2009
  • Geoff Reid, Thierry Henry

While itís been a few weeks where the biggest incident in world football certainly in the last decade has taken place with everybody whoís involved in the game and others who donít have a clue about our beautiful sport throwing their two cents in, I thought it be appropriate to talk about what happened at the Stade de France on November 18th.

Now going into this match, Ireland were up against it losing the first leg at Croke Park 1-0. However, captain Robbie Keane pulled the aggregate scores level in the second leg. After 90 minutes, there was little between the sides going into extra time. Now the most important thing to remember here is if the scores would still have stayed level, then penalties would have been no alternative. A lot of folks who donít know anything about football that decide all of a sudden their experts didnít realize this and thatís your usual radio talk show hosts who almost never talk about football. So when Franceís second goal that should never have stood didnít cost Ireland a shot at the world cup, only stopped the tie from going to penalties. Now, there are several talking points about this incident that happened in a split second:

Something has to be done to help the officials. People involved in the game have been having this debate for years about goal line technology, as well as the current experiment going on in this seasonís Europa League where their are two extra officials, one being behind each goal. Thereís no one solution to solve these problems but clearly referees have such a tough job on their hands to get the decisions that matter correct I firmly believe they need all the help they can get. But this is something weíve all known for a long time, long before Torsten Fringsí handball in 2002. In this latest case it not only cost a nation a chance at going to the worldís biggest sporting event, but the economical impact it can have on a nation not to mention a massive moral booster as well when a country qualifies. Decisions like these can cost managers their jobs, and it can be the wrong way players end their careers.

I personally want everyone to lay off Thierry Henry. Was he wrong? Yes of course he was, heís admitted as much and even was in favor of a reply at some point. While heís been playing this game his whole life and at the highest level for a lot of it, he understands the rules more then anything but it was just basic instinct. May I remind everyone that in 2002 in the round of 16 match between the US and Mexico, does anybody remember John OíBrienís famous punch of the ball from a Mexican corner kick? Fortunately for us, the referee didnít notice it and that could have changed the complete picture of that match. It was basic instinct. Prior to this latest incident, Henry has never been a cheat and has always been one of the classiest players in the game and continues to be. These comparisons to Diego Maradonaís ĎHand of Godí against England in 1986 can be compared, but the two men themselves canít be compared. Henry has always been one of the honest players and that will not change. Maradona would not even admit he was in the wrong. Then we can go into their personal lives who are on complete opposites on the radar. Henry has been such a great humanitarian and given to numerous charities and taken part in good causes. He doesnít deserve the hackling heís been getting.

Football at the top needs serious sorting out. To think the Irish FA was going to win over Sepp Blatter and the big dogs at FIFA was mind boggling. Normally Iíd be ripping FIFA into how things are run, but in this case they are right because if FIFA were to give Ireland the 33rd spot, then so many other countries could appeal if a decision went against them in qualifying, the list could go on and on. The bottom line is this: until officials can get help in some way, shape, or form, these incidents will continue to happen and itíll stay a part of the game. Roy Keane always has something interesting to say whether you agree with him or not and certainly I havenít always done so but in this case when he gave his opinion he was spot on. From the point he made as to why the defenders didnít react fast enough to clear the ball, Shay Given not shouting instructions enough during the situation, and most importantly the golden rule of playing football or any sport for that matter play to the whistle! The Irish did not do that at that point. Granted by this point your legs start to give way, concentration is hard to keep up after 90 minutes itís a challenge mentally and physically.

Itís amazing as to how Raymond Domenech still has a job with the French national team. Now this has gone unnoticed but another reminder why I firmly canít believe he is national team manager and I know Iím not the only one who thinks this. In all honesty, he should have been ousted after 2006. At that point, he managed to convince the best player of his generation and one of the best of all time Zinedine Zidane to come out of retirement and bail him out which he did, but has this French team even progressed since ĎZizouí retired? Not at all. In fact, if the US were to draw France in the world cup I honestly feel it wouldnít be the worst deal Bob Bradley could get. Managers like Domenech and Carlos Quiroz of Portugal are clearly not the best and continue to rely on star players (or in Domenechís case a missed call by officials) to bail them out of certain situations and make them look good. Portugal wouldnít necessarily be a bad draw either in the group stage, because that happened back in 2002 and things worked out pretty well. Of course between now and June a lot of things can happen.

So we have many things to learn from this one split second decision Henry made, but I look at it as an opportunity to change the game for the better. I just hope FIFA realize this as well.

Editor’s Note: Geoff Reid appears on WVHooligan each week. Feel free to leave him comments below.