November 22nd, 2009
07:36 PM ET

Now the dust has settled FIFA must act

When all the dust has settled on Le Handball debate, what will we have learned from this debacle? Well, first and foremost it’s been confirmed that FIFA is unwilling to see their rules as an organic set of conventions.

Henry may have apologized but Ireland will not be going to the World Cup finals.
Henry may have apologized but Ireland will not be going to the World Cup finals.

The decision not to replay the France/Ireland play-off was, of course, widely anticipated, as FIFA is a bureaucratic body renowned for following the letter of its laws even if that seemingly goes against their ethos of 'fair play.'

To order a re-match would have been a watershed moment in world football, and FIFA does not willingly change the status quo.

A human reaction to the public clamor for a replay would have been totally out of character, and I doubt there’s one person in football who expected the sport’s governing body to right the injustice that so many around the world witnessed.

So, what else have we learned? Well, we now know that Thierry Henry, for all his talents, is not the icon he was considered when he played for Arsenal.

Not because he committed the handball, but because he celebrated the goal by Gallas so fervently without a hint of guilt, even though he knew it wasn’t legitimate.

To admit to handling the ball after the fact and then absolve himself of blame by putting the responsibility on the ref, smacks of a man without honor.

And what of the ref? Well, surprisingly I can sympathize with Martin Hansson and his assistants.

In the dying moments of a tense battle they blew the vital call. But I’m not a conspiracy theorist, so I genuinely believe it was an honest error. Granted, as the Swedish press wrote, it’s probably “the worst refereeing mistake in 20 years”, but I feel sure he didn’t make it with bad intention.

However, what his howler demonstrates once and for all is that football needs a safety net, or possibly two.

The experiment with 5 officials at the Under-17 World Cup and in the Europa League must surely be adopted throughout the game. Everything else in football is decided by large committees, why not the thing that matters most - what happens on the pitch.

I also think the use of instant video replays is now essential. Other sports, like rugby, tennis, and American football utilize technology. FIFA and every other governing body in the game has embraced television for financial gain, so why not use the cameras to help preserve the sport’s integrity?

Of course, all this will not put Ireland on the plane to South Africa next summer. But like the Bosman incident that revolutionized football transfers in the 1990’s, some good could result from the bad. I wonder if FIFA will change?

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. pramok

    There is no good or bad intention by the referee in any game . However, to avoid the same mistake, the game must provide correct provision for the future to avoid disappointment, disagreement and crises which brings anguish and disorder in lives of many people. FIFA must review and reinvent itself for the progress of the game for the future........ Pramok/KTM – Nepal.

    November 23, 2009 at 1:43 am | Reply
  2. Carlo

    Ok, FIFA says it cannot change the results of the game. But should it just leave it at that? There must be consequences for Thierry's cheating, or else the cheating will just go on. Hold the cheating player responsible, not just the referee. FIFA should penalize Thierry by not allowing him to play in the World Cup in South Africa. Thierry, and other players, should not be made to believe that there are no consequences for their crimes.

    November 23, 2009 at 3:41 am | Reply
  3. Andre

    FIFA didn't change anything after Maradona handball in Mexico 86. What makes people think something will get done now?

    November 23, 2009 at 10:52 am | Reply
  4. Tony Gartland

    I too, don't fully blame the Ref as video clearly shows he was blind-sighted by several players. BUT, the linesmen got it badly wrong. As the initial free kick was taken, TWO french players were off-side. And worse, the linesman should have seen the handball. Although again, did the goalpost block his view?
    However, the ref should have taken into consideration, the reaction of the players, notably Shay Given, who doesn't usually get over excited. Video might NOT have worked here, as the whole idea was to focus on the GOAL and not either side of it. BUT, curiously, Rugby, and Irish football and hurling (both amateur games at the time) have TWO officials at EITHER side of the posts. THIS is the least expensive solution. No small club can afford a TV replay system. But two goal line officials (amateur level included) at each end, should go forward to helping. Like Rugby, for the BIG games, then a video ref should be used. FIFA take note. The Irish have had the solution for a long time!!!!

    November 23, 2009 at 11:33 am | Reply
  5. Rob

    If FIFA do not punish the player or the team, then the cheating will never stop. It would truly be ironic if France came to the World Cup and won the FIFA "Fair Play" Award. That will make a mockery of FIFA.
    Thierry Henry, you are a disgrace to your country and to the great game of Football. It is truly sad that you will now not be remembered as a great player, but as the player that cheated to get to the World Cup.

    November 23, 2009 at 12:30 pm | Reply
  6. IF

    FIFA did change the result of the game... by validating a hand-goal. Only goes to show that FIFA's "values" seem to be valueless when it's just not talk. And still they speak of maintaining the game's purity (??!!) by refusing instant TV replays... As to Thierry Henry, Terry Baddoo says it all... 🙁

    November 23, 2009 at 2:02 pm | Reply
  7. Uba Kariba

    You people can't be serious. This guy needs to pay for his "crimes"???? He didn't hurt anyone, its a stupid game of kickball. In fact, it's the stupidest game on earth because you can't even use you're hands. Henry gets paid millions of dollars a year to play kickball, do you think he's really stressed out over this? He's the top scorer, ever in history, for his you really think THEY care? Give me a break. There wasn't a "crime", it's a game. get real people! Stop trying to punish a guy for playing a silly game, and a game that's hardly as entertaining as American Football.

    November 23, 2009 at 2:28 pm | Reply
  8. Supo Adebayo

    Rob enough of your siliness. Henry remains a great player. This isolated incident will not eraze that. What goes around come around. Remember the dubious penalty call in favour of the Irish by the centre referree in the game between the Republic of Ireland and Georgia, World Cup qualifier. Why didn't the Irish refuse to take the penalty (or take it and boot it wide) just so that the point is made that that type of referring error will not be allowed to bring the game into disrepute.

    November 23, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Reply
  9. Olivier

    Henry says he almost quit...why hasn't he already done so?

    November 23, 2009 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  10. fatou Sanyang

    It was so shameful for a world class footballer like henry to do such a thing and adding more damage to celebrate with fellow team members. The best bet is for Fifa to change rule no. 5, that referees decision is final. they are just human and are bound to make mistakes. Though some serious mistakes like this one can't be over emphasized. We are now in the high tech world were cameras can justify any claim made like the rules in tennis. So fifa follow suit.

    November 23, 2009 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  11. Brava

    The saddest part of all is the great example Henry and FIFA have shown to youngsters all over the world.

    Cheating pays.

    The very least Henry could do is to decide NOT to go to the World Cup to show that his remorse is true and that he himself will not be benefitting from his cheating even though the French team will.

    November 23, 2009 at 3:36 pm | Reply
  12. Mark Websper

    Such blatant cheating should be punished with a sizeable ban for the player involved. Thus a ban from the World Cup finals would be a deterrent enough to stop such flagrant un-sportsmanship. The is NO excuse for such behaviour. He stated that he considered quitting in the days that followed the incident,should we be showing sympathy?.

    Henry should quit and cheating to this extent is as unforgivable as performance enhancing drugs.

    November 23, 2009 at 10:39 pm | Reply
  13. Nwachokor

    There must be consiquences. Cheating must not be part of the game of football or else, FIFA should start preparing to see empty seats at football stadia. We all saw the replay and it was very very annoying to see.

    FIFA, Henry, the referee, lines men and the French national team should make restitution to the Irish.

    November 23, 2009 at 11:23 pm | Reply
  14. MikeV36

    A player who violates a rule is not a "cheater" - a foul calls for a free kick, not a life sentence. But the three major handball incidents in World Cup competition - Maradona, Henry, and the German handball on defense against the USA in 1992 - suggest that it is time to use video. It is used in ice hockey, which on the whole is faster than football, and there is no reason why it cannot be used on goals in high level football, when the play has paused anyway before the kickoff.

    Let us hope that Thierry Henry has a better life after his playing days are one than Maradona.

    November 23, 2009 at 11:55 pm | Reply
  15. Xavi

    Amazing how people draw parallels between Maradona and Henry – of course there are millions of ignorant people. Maradona and Argentina are jsutified in handling the ball as England and Argentina had and still have huge political issues and all is FAIR in love and war.
    As far as Henry goes, punish him yes and FIFA (Blatter) did the same for Maradona's outburst after qualifying.

    November 24, 2009 at 12:38 am | Reply
  16. Mohamed Libya

    Henry didnt cheat!!!!!!!!
    u can only say that if u saw the incident by a slow motion camera sitting on yr caoches.
    in real life on the pitch in a moment like with all the action surrounding u and every single person on the pitch is desperate to score even if he had to use the tip of his tongue ,and the ball hits u or u hit , in such a short period of time which could be less than a second its not called cheating.
    im sure when he saw the ball in he couldnt believe it ,because at that moment he was sooooo high,sooo unconciouse at that moment.
    plus its part of the game,and its over now
    yes its hard ireland,it was soo hard too seeing Zeidane leave with a red card 2006 after Matterazi used his sick dirty ways to get Zeidane out.maybe Ireland just didnt get qualified but France lost a world cup for that.
    there are many tricks in this game and its part of the game.some are clever some are dirty and some are JUST normal mistakes

    November 24, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Reply
  17. Djee

    Two words: video referee

    November 24, 2009 at 2:15 pm | Reply
  18. Mackenny

    Mr. Badoo easy on Henry T, no body is perfect , its not the first and it will not be the last, I believe its part of the game, thats why FIFA keep it that way

    November 24, 2009 at 6:37 pm | Reply
  19. Colin

    If the goal is not legitimate then how can the result be legitimate?

    November 25, 2009 at 5:15 am | Reply
  20. Esau Fenelon

    It has been written on the FIFA's flag: FIFA Fair Play. was it fair under the eyes of FIFA to accept and validate the goal of Thierry Henry ? According to the FIFA's decision, we should have a better understanding of what FIFA considers fair or not.

    November 25, 2009 at 6:07 pm | Reply
  21. Majok

    Why is it Henry being blamed for what happened. He is a competitor who went there to play. He didn't go there to the pitch to detered what gonna go wrong because anything could go with a player; bad or good that why there is what called referee to make sure the rules of football are being follows by the parties. Was Henry a referee?

    Also remember referee are importials and they judge according to what they are witnessing in the game. Referee and linemens didn't see any handball. So non of this people should not be blamed.

    November 26, 2009 at 5:14 am | Reply
  22. MV

    Henry is not blameworthy. I believe he acted on reflex. But rematch or no rematch this should serve as a lesson. Let us value fair play more than anything else!

    November 26, 2009 at 9:28 am | Reply
  23. Wayde

    Most people are such ignorant fools. Henry is not a cheater, a person who dives and feigns injury is someone who cheats because it is a premeditated act to con the officials.

    What happened with Henry took place in less than a second and was reflex. People are acting like Ireland WAS going to qualify if France hadn't scored when that was far from the truth. If anything it would have gone to penalties, and i'm certain there was more time left so why didn't they go and score at the other end.

    Most of you couch and sofa judges/players need to get over yourselves. In every football competition/tournament decisions go FOR & AGAINST teams.

    Ireland had their good luck in the game against Georgia and had misfortune against France. But in the end decisions even themselves out. Why didn't the Irish offer to replay against the Georgians?

    As Roy Keane said Henry wasn't to be blamed because the Irish had numerous chances to advance but failed to put away the teams they should have beaten but they didn't so deal with it.

    At least we wont have to deal with seeing them at the World Cup parking the bus in front of the goal when they meet a quality side.

    November 28, 2009 at 9:40 pm | Reply
  24. Vincent O'Driscoll

    Blatter has admitted he spoke to Henry on the phone & absorbed him of all blame & placed it on the Ref.Henry admitted he cheated yet the authorites turn a blind eye & hope it all blows over but true football fans wont forget a cheat is a cheat & when the first French player touches a fooball in South Africa it will say cheating pays & it pays to have friends in high places. If Robbie Keane handled & France lost could you honestly say FIFA wouldnt have stepped in & ordered a Replay in th sense of fair play ....

    November 29, 2009 at 11:10 pm | Reply
  25. Crystal

    Punishing Henry is a little intense... he isnt the first player to do it and it wasnt intentional it happens in the game. This is not the first hand ball not called nor the last.

    December 1, 2009 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  26. john

    i think henry did nothing all part of the game.he is not the 1st person doing that and leave him alone.

    December 10, 2009 at 10:23 am | Reply
  27. john

    was MARADONA,MESSI and otheres punished when handled the ball?why HENRY?

    December 10, 2009 at 10:26 am | Reply
  28. john

    going to world,CUP without FRANCE is off no going!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 10, 2009 at 10:34 am | Reply
  29. vivian

    i think henry did not do anything wrong is all part of the game

    December 21, 2009 at 5:59 pm | Reply
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