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A Robbery in Paris


Thierry Henry is my favorite player of all time.  He has had so many magical moments on the pitch that it is hard for me to list them all.  That is what makes this all the more painful.  Yes, Ireland should have taken their chances.  Yes, this will renew the call for instant replay.  Yes, if it goes to penalty kicks, most people would bet on France to hit more than Ireland.

That does not make this moment any less outrageous.  It was not an accidental handball.  It was deliberate, diabolical, and perhaps the most unjust moment in an important football game in a generation.

I think it would have been fun to have the Irish in South Africa, but that is almost beside the point.  I know which team I will be rooting for next summer – WHOEVER PLAYS FRANCE!

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  1. Josh

    November 19, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    It is funny how circumstances can raise the stakes. During the Italy-Netherlands friendly this past weekend, an Italian player (I forget who) obviously knocked a ball into the net with his hand after a cross. It was clearly intentional and Italy would have accepted the goal if it was not caught. It was and the goal was disallowed.

    The difference in this case is that the referee did not catch Henry’s hand ball and did not disallow the goal. The real point is that footballers will always do whatever it takes to win — and so will any professional athlete. There really is no such thing as “fair play” — instead, the pro sports mantra is “whatever it takes to win.” Results are final. Thats the way it is. And in this case, Henry did what it took, the ref did not catch it and here we are.

  2. hank

    November 19, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Ireland certainly got the short-end of the stick, but making Henry out as the villain is silly. A handball like that is a split second decision, he didn’t sit about deliberately planning to cheat Ireland out of the world cup. I’d submit that you’re applying a yardstick to Henry, that most players, in any sport (down to the guys I play with on the weekend) would fail to meet.

    Anyway, I also think that Ireland has to shoulder some of the blame for not putting away their opportunities in the second half. Once the game went to OT, it was either going to be France, or the crap-shoot that is a penalty shoot-out…

  3. Steven

    November 19, 2009 at 9:59 am

    I’m at the point now where I think this is a situation that goes beyond the Referee’s call or what the linesman should have done, or even the call for new technology in the game.
    Thierry Henry has always been extremely self-righteous and is always quick to point the finger when he felt he had been mistreated/cheated by an oponent. I never had a problem with this before now, given that (at least in the EPL), he has been among the best palyers in the world over the last 10 years.
    But by his attitude and actions he has put himself in a position where he needs to show some responsibility. It must be a hollow victory indeed for Domenech, who has always been a repugnant character.
    This is a moral issue, and I don’t think thats being extreme.
    But there will be no satisfaction, no replay, no action against Henry, nothing. France will go to SA, probably to achieve mediocre results. Or maybe not, maybe the final will be France V Brazil or Germany, Or Spain., Or even perhaps England. And in the final, Thierry Henry could well score the winning goal, who knows. Is that right? It certainly puts the whole credibility of the game in serious Doubt.
    In any event, Henry has marked his cards for good. In fairness to the referee, a bad call is just that, a bad call. He may have been trying to even things out over the Anelka peno decision (It wasn’t a penalty by the way). But he just called it as he saw it.
    Henry however, is a different matter. A mistake is a mistake, But a cheat will always be a cheat. Au Revoir Henry, to your legacy!

  4. patrice

    November 19, 2009 at 5:12 am

    Dear Irish football lover, I completly agree with you, I’m french and I shame for this result but in the other way, Ireland had a lot of occasion to kill the match, good play and bad luck… I hate Domenech and he had so many talentuous players to call… Anyway, just remember that Italy had a lot of difficulty to qualify in the last world cup in Germany and they were world champion….
    Greeting to all football lover and you can get your revenge in Rugby…….!!!!!!!!!

  5. Logan

    November 19, 2009 at 12:23 am

    Everyone here is crucifying Henry when you know if you were in the same position, you would have done the same thing. I have played soccer, and time and time again I sometimes accidentally touch the ball with my hand. It is a reaction. In that split second you cannot honestly believe that Henry 100% knew he was palming the ball to his foot. I guarantee it was at most luck. Should it have been a goal? No. But don’t blame Henry. He is not a cheater. The cheaters are the refs who did not do their job, and the system which does not protect against incidents like this. As far as the Irish go, I am actually of Irish decent, but still know that they are not a top team, and would have the most minimal of chances to even win the World Cup. Forget the stupid “Oh, it’s better for the World Cup and the economy if they make it.” crap! This is football, not we like them more, they get a free pass! Blame the system, not the players. They are just playing the game.

    • Jorge Curioso

      November 19, 2009 at 3:35 am

      No, blame the player. He intentionally cheated to cause a goal to be scored. It’s reprehensible.

      And not all players would do the same thing. I can think of Fowler who tried to talk the referee out of a penalty awarded to him, and I believe Di Canio (of all people) did something along these lines.

      Henry is a cheater, and a liar (about the hand-ball intent), and should receive a nice, long ban and fine for his perfidy.

      And France should be disqualified.

      • Phil McThomas

        November 19, 2009 at 8:09 am

        The ref will never see everything that is happening – blame the laws of physics, not football.

        You can’t shift blame to the ref.

        That’s like saying it’s okay to rob a house, because if they police didn’t catch you, what else could you do?

    • JLay

      November 19, 2009 at 10:33 am

      Watch the replay- Henry had his arm straight against his side when the ball came. His arm wasn’t swinging forwrd at all – he made a conscious decision to reach out and control the ball with his hand. And no, all players would not have done the same thing… some of us have/had the character to play fairly.

      Cheating is NOT part of the game – and players (especially at this level) have a responsibility to play the game fairly. Diving, calling for undeserved throw-ins and corners, and intentionally handling the ball are not OK. Henry’s behavior (and that of many others) are a blight on the game.

      Were the refs at fault? Absolutely, but they can’t see everything. Was Henry MORE at fault? Yes, because he intentionally cheated. He is a hypocrite and a piece of crap, period.

  6. Jleau

    November 18, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    As good an arguement for replay as I have seen. Clearly should not have counted and who knows what would have happened with penalties. Terrible call!!!

    Cue the conspiracy theories. Clearly Platini was the second shooter on the grassy knoll.

  7. Evan

    November 18, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    FIFA needs to change the rules somehow so that a single bad referee call can’t end the world cup hope of a whole country. It’s crazy. He was literally holding the f*cking ball!!! Cheating French scum

    • Thomas

      November 18, 2009 at 11:51 pm

      In this instance, the call MAY have cost Ireland a chance at the WC. They still had penalties to deal with.

      And don’t forget, they were in this position because they didn’t get the results they needed leading up to this game to avoid the playoff.

      They would have been fine had they not conceded in the 94th minute to El Violista Gilardino

      • Phil McThomas

        November 19, 2009 at 8:07 am

        It DID cost them the –> hope chance <– of a place.

        France were in the same situation as Ireland, re: results and not winning their group.

  8. Phil McThomas

    November 18, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    I’ve never like Henry since the Boro v Arsenal FA Cup semi in 2002. He took a corner that (I think) Festa sliced into his own net in an attempt to clear it.

    Henry stood with his arms outstretched, eyes closed, smug look on his face.

    All he did was take take a corner! Smug doesn’t cover it.

  9. coachie ballgames

    November 18, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    An assistant ref situated behind the goal may have made the correct call in this situation. More and more I’m convinced that an assistant ref behind each goal would benefit the game.

    The French should still fire Domenech. No excuse for a team this talented to have been in this situation. Can’t believe they had the patience to stay with him during qualification considering how poorly they played in Euro 2008.

  10. me

    November 18, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Blatant handball, yes. Do I blame Henry or call him a cheat? Absolutely not. It’s the ref’s job. HE failed. Henry and France benefited.

    All of you calling Henry a cheat: Remember when Messi scored with his arm? Do you consider him a cheat and scum as well? Hypocrites.

    • Sam Davis

      November 18, 2009 at 8:22 pm

      Yeah, lol, I do. Messi did it twice and got caught the second time. And I believe he celebrated a bit on the first goal.

      Why assume that everyone on Earth is in love with Messi. He cheated as well.

      • me

        November 18, 2009 at 9:31 pm

        not saying everyone is in love with him. But he’d be a very difficult player to hate. Honest, hard working, loyal, and brilliant. You don’t discount those qualities because of a handball

        • JLay

          November 19, 2009 at 10:24 am

          Umm, I can discount “honest” right off the bat…

    • Tim

      November 18, 2009 at 9:55 pm

      yeah i do consider Messi a cheat. I hate cheating scum like these players

  11. Darby O'Gill

    November 18, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    Anelka should have had a penalty before this anyway – cosmic justice.

    • Eric Altshule

      November 18, 2009 at 8:36 pm

      Anelka should have been booked for a dive.

      • Kevin_Amold

        November 18, 2009 at 11:41 pm


  12. NYSpursFan

    November 18, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    He practically palmed it with his left hand. While I can see how the ref could have missed it, it doesn’t exonerate Henry. Shame. Ireland deserve better than this.

  13. Richard the Red (Devil)

    November 18, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    I hate the bloody French. Cheating frog bastards. My heart goes out to the Irish tonight.

    • Christopher

      November 23, 2009 at 9:21 am

      Friggin’ child aren’t you?

  14. JLay

    November 18, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Could that have been more obvious? So much for the “classy” Thierry Henry. He is a piece of crap. I sincerely hope that he suffers a terrible injury in the near future.

  15. David

    November 18, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Ball plays the hand as his normal arm movement goes in front of him and the ball hits him, in turn he continues playing.

    Its a shame this has happened. Can’t really say this was a robbery as no one will know what might have happened in PKs…

    • Phil McThomas

      November 18, 2009 at 9:20 pm

      Okay, so if I take your wallet that’s okay, because you might have given it to me later in the day? 🙂

  16. Jeremy Johnston

    November 18, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    On a tense qualifier night such as this, I am still, for now, looking at the matches with more of a thought for my club rather than any one country.
    I have of late, had to be concerned about the fitness of the Arsenal, and it is mainly with cringes and prayers that I follow the fortunes of my players on international duty. Thierry Henry’s time with us has passed and he is no longer of the BPL on which this blog focuses.
    Those considerations aside, there were some dramatically enjoyable internationals this evening. You my friend, are far too emotional and missing the big picture. Let me illuminate you.
    While it is indeed a pity for poor old Robbie Keane and the other Irish-eyed lads, as an undying France supporter I must celebrate, nay revel, in my former captain’s timely and important goal.Well done Willie G…always get the best of Anelka and Evra, if you take my meaning.
    Former Chelsea boss Hiddink’s error is, as usual, his nearsightedness. He overlooked the importance of our Arshavin’s connection and lethality in co-operation with Mr Pavluychenko and broke the tandem to his side’s demise. Woe is he.
    He and Hotspur Harry should both see Arsene’s opthalmologist but, in truth, his kind of vision is not available by appointment. I wonder if he sees an Andreii and Roman show in the future for primetime at the Emirates.
    In the possible absence of, and as longterm support for both bigman Bendtner and vicious VanPersie, surely the potential that the dynamic Ruskie duo posseses must be a consideration for Wenger. Especially since both men should be hungry for glory having made the earliest of exits, a non-appearance, at the World Cup with their Fatherland…it would be ideal for them to do the treble with the Arsenal in 2010 instead.
    This season of the Barclays Premier League, as a football LOVER and a GOONER, WILL eclipse the FIFA 2010 World Cup in a shadow so dark as to obscure it from the annals of sport history. At the end of the upheaval a certain aforementioned manager shall be petitioned by legions to take the reigns of French football and shall lead us all again to the promised land of the beautiful game. Oui we, shall all be , victorious et invincible encore.
    That’s how eye see it.

  17. Ryan

    November 18, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    He’s a cheat, and so is Platini and Blatter!

  18. Sam Davis

    November 18, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Let’s see that handball in motion yeah…?

    • The Gaffer

      November 18, 2009 at 7:33 pm

      Bloody hell, he’s literally massaging the ball in that slow-mo video.

      The Gaffer

  19. ovalball

    November 18, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Ireland, Ireland
    Together standing tall
    Shoulder to shoulder
    We’ll answer Ireland’s call

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