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A Little Bit Of Rationality.

It has been all about Thierry Henry and his “Hand of God” this past 24 hours. Articles, comments, they are everywhere, lambasting the striker for his role in the controversial equaliser. I am a Gooner, and Henry scored the goal which mesmerized me into pledging my allegiance to Arsenal. Without a doubt, he is my favourite player of all time. But i make it a point to be as impartial and objective as i can in my writing.

Firstly, it is true that there was no guarantee that Ireland would have won the tie had the goal been disallowed.As much as Ireland’s fighting spirit moved us, the numbers tell the whole story. 5 attempts at goal compared to France’s 15, with the shots on target statistics even more appalling , and 43% possession, the fact is Ireland were inferior. Yes, Domenech has made a mess out of the French team, and there is a good chance they may not even make it past the group stage, but on the night, statistically, they were the better team.

Now, onto Thierry Henry. Was i disappointed to see him do what he did? Absolutely, and i still am. After all, he has been a consistent advocate of fair play and anti-racism, and for him to do something like that is unthinkable. This is an excerpt of his post match statement.

“It was a handball, but I’m not the ref. I told (the referee) but he said to me the same: ‘You are not the ref.'”

The skeptic in me says he’s lying. But, if there was even the slightest possibility that he was telling the truth, would the blame not fall on the referee and his team of assistants? Therefore, it doesn’t seem fair to pile the blame solely on Henry. The ref did not do his job, and part of the blame must fall on his shoulders.

Henry is 32, and this could very well be his last World Cup. I urge you to look at it from his point of view. Nothing, absolutely nothing could justify robbing a nation of her chance to play in the World Cup. But, i’m not asking for forgiveness. I’m asking for understanding. The ball struck his hand, and right there, he had a decision to make. Play the ball and pretend nothing happened, or stop play immediately. He took option number one. And as soon as Gallas scored,  he was faced with another moral dilemma. Speak to the ref, or let it go. According to him, he spoke to the ref but was waved away.

Sure, he played on after the handball. And he claims to have tried to overturn the decision. If we are to believe his words, does that not speak volumes about his honesty? I am sure that not many of us would have the courage to walk over to the man with the whistle and tell him, “I handled the ball,” and risk bearing the wrath of our colleagues, manager, and possibly our entire nation.

Henry now has a third decision to make. To do nothing about it, or pressure FIFA into forming a solution(read Kartik’s post below). To face three decisions of such magnitude is no easy feat for any man. And i can only imagine how mentally taxing it is.

So before we carry on berating him, calm down, have a nice cup of tea and think about it rationally. Give him a break and hope that he does the right thing for a sport he loves so dearly.

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  1. DoublePivot

    November 19, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Yes, but Henry has built his brand around being a fair player. So calling him a cheating little shit is perfectly fair. He built his commercial empire on a lie. He cheated now, he cheated against Italy, he cheated on his wife, he cheated often in the Prem. He’s nothing but a cheat.

    Fair play, he gets to go to the WC. Fair play, his financial clout will take a serious hit. I wonder if all these Arsenal fan-gurls will be there to help him when he’s broke and penniless.

  2. v

    November 19, 2009 at 11:59 am

    The idea that we hold athletes on this huge pedestal that they are perfect is ignorant and naive. No one is perfect and to argue that he is a ‘cheating little shit’, shows nothing but immaturity, there isn’t a football player on any pitch in the world who hasn’t done something against the rules of the game, some get caught most don’t. He made a mistake, he should own up to it and it seems that he has, maybe he should do more to try and fix it and I hope he does. I don’t condone what he did, but I understand in the heat of the moment there isn’t time to think, just to react and he reacted to the ball in a way that is illegal in football, it happens.

    I believe that a replay should be played, or hey even just a shootout between France and Ireland to settle who would go to the world cup so people stop bitching.

  3. Dave Trotter

    November 19, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Exactly. Everyone is under the assumption that Ireland would have won if the goal was not allowed. That just isn’t true.

  4. DoublePivot

    November 19, 2009 at 11:21 am

    Who cares how you spin it. He cheated and he’ll get to go to the World Cup, undeservedly.

    The French have spent every bit of capital they had based on the beautiful sides of Platini and 98/00. After the headbut and this, they are a country that will never have a neutral on their side. I’d rather the North Koreans win the world cup than a bunch of cheats. And when they go crashing out of the WC to boos, I imagine we’ll have to hear their whinging and moaning. But your fate is now locked.

    And so is Henry’s. Nothing will ever be remembered about Henry other than he was a cheating little shit (and this isn’t the first time). He’s tarnished his own Racism campaign, and I’m sure put a evil grin on the faces of the BNP. He’ll lose his endorsements, because no company can now be expected to have their name associated with brand Henry….not even Halliburton or Lehman Bros. would want him. So he’ll get some due justice as revenue dries up, loses his legacy and he becomes a footnote, forgotten as testament to the modern game’s blight of lack of sportsmanship. Few remember his fellow douche-bag’s greatness before the headbutt.

  5. Alvin Phoon

    November 19, 2009 at 11:03 am

    JLay, its 104 minutes into the game. Your team is down by a goal and you know that if the game goes into penalties, its a 50-50 shot. You’re exhausted, you’re nervous, you’re a wreck. Tell me that you’d be able to think rationally, even for that split second. Henry made a mistake. He may be a phenomenal player, but don’t forget, he’s only human. If the stories are true, the minute he realised what he had done, he went to the ref.

    Think about it Ryan. If the ref came out and said that Henry did speak to him but he waved him away, wouldn’t that imply that there is some sort of conspiracy going on?

    Yes, it upsets me greatly, but the memory of this incident will inevitably pop up everytime i hear Henry’s name. Its a real shame, not just for me, but for everyone who loves football.

  6. PhillySpur

    November 19, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Even as a Spurs supporter I always respected Henry as a player and a person. I agree that this ultimatly falls on the ref, but Henry has tarnished his legacy. Going forward, every time his name is mentioned, this incident will immediatly come to mind.

  7. john

    November 19, 2009 at 10:37 am

    If a baseball gets tagged out before he reaches a base, does he run to tell the umpire he missed the call?

    If a basketball player fouls another player and the ref doesnt call it, will he tell the ref he should have?

    I didn’t see the game. But I’m unsure why the players get blamed so much in soccer and not the ref that missed the call.

  8. JLay

    November 19, 2009 at 10:18 am

    I call BULLS%^T. If he didn’t intend to cheat, he wouldn’t have settled the ball (twice) with his hand and then crossed it. He would’ve stopped play as soon as the ball touched his hand.

    Henry is a cheat, plain and simple. France enter the World Cup under a cloud of disgrace, and Henry has tarnished his squeaky clean image irreparably. I hope they all fail miserably.

  9. Ryan

    November 19, 2009 at 9:28 am

    That’s a great and nice story if he really did tell the ref, but unless the ref let’s the world know Henry ACTUALLY said that – who cares. It was BS.

  10. Dave Trotter

    November 19, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Thank you for showing some calm in this situation. As a French supporter, am I upset that this is the way it ended? Yes. Why? Because I am going to have to spend endlesss hours trying to explain this situation and why we should be in the World Cup.

    Am I happy by the results? Yes. I am not going to go against my favorite team because of a bad call. I, of course, and France to win.

    But what if Robbie Keane handled the ball? I sure the shoe would be on the other foot.

  11. Nnanna

    November 19, 2009 at 7:37 am

    If he actually told the ref that it was handball, he may just be the most honest footballer in history. Most players would (understandably) not say a thing to the ref.

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