In my EPL Talk piece yesterday, I discussed all of the reasons that Ireland’s potential qualification was better for World Football than France’s would be. Much of this thought process centered on the importance of American market to the success of the World Cup.
But alas, Giovanni Trapattoni’s side was defeated at the hands of Thierry Henry’s France. (pun intended) This is despite the fact that Trapattoni had been able to get a group of Championship and low end Premier League players (with a few exceptions) to play at a level higher than that of an allegedly world class French squad. One of these (allegedly) world class players, Henry is consistently linked with Major League Soccer.
Henry is however, an acknowledged cheat. The player whose international career has never replicated his club form admitted that his handling of the ball was deliberate. Desperately unable to break down a well organized Irish side employing Trapattoni’s legendary tactics, the player who preaches fair play did exactly the opposite to qualify his nation illegitimately for its fourth successive World Cup. (Ireland has only been to three World Cups in its footballing history)
Henry is a footballer whose recent and blatant actions have brought the sport into disrepute, across the globe. In the United States a perception exists about diving and cheating in football. This perception which ails many a casual sports fan from truly embracing football would only be furthered by the signing of Henry. I would urge any and all MLS teams that have considered using a DP slot on Henry to cease the thought immediately.
Henry owns a home in Miami and loves New York. This makes him more willing and able to move to the US than most recognizable footballers. But that is not reason enough to bring to America, a player whose actions and blatant disregard for the rules of this beautiful game have been made perfectly clear. American impressions of this sport are created by snapshot moments: Pele’s dribble, Maradona’s hand of god, and Zidane’s head butt. Those impressions sadly last longer than they should, because by and large the average American sports fan really doesn’t get Football.
Few will know about Henry’s good work in the Stamp Out Racism campaign, nor his genteel demeanor. Nor do they care. Henry is perceived as cheat from here forward and this means that Don Garber and MLS team execs need to cross Henry off any potential list of DP signings in the near future.