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Henry’s Story Continues to “Evolve” Thanks to Public Opinion


Since Thierry Henry’s handball on Wednesday, the former Arsenal striker’s reaction has gone from arrogance, to indifference to being contrite. From where I sit, this simply proves that Henry is a Public Relations driven phony. He’s cultivated an image for over a decade in conjunction with his handlers and now sees the possibility it can all come undone.

While several of my followers on Twitter yesterday felt I was crazy to even discuss the idea of a boycott of those companies that use Henry as a spokesman (Gillette, Pepsi and Reebok among others), I maintain that thought was in order given the extreme consequences of Henry’s action, and his subsequent story. The above listed corporations cannot afford to be associated with someone so unwilling to show contrition for an obvious mistake, be it intentional or inadvertent.

This story now seems to be evolving, presumably as his handlers gauge the public reaction, particularly in the British Isles.

At first, Henry said he handled the ball but it was not intentional, and had not curtailed his celebrations after William Gallas’ goal and after the victory

Then, Henry changed his story to claim that he had told Ireland Defender Richard Dunne after the match that he had handled the ball and he did not celebrate with his team mates.

Then, Henry claimed he had told the official it was a handball, but the official told him that he was the referee and the decision was final.

Now, Henry says a replay is in order.

This evolution of positions has taken place in rapid succession, over 36 hours as many British writers have continued to pour scorn on Henry’s actions.

Regardless of what Henry’s handlers do and how his image suffers the ultimate outcome is what will not change thanks to FIFA’s decision to rule out a replay, even though a precedent, albeit not this close to the draw does exist.

The Republic of Ireland, whose fighting spirit and incredible traveling fans would have livened up the World Cup have been eliminated in favor of a group of players who interest appears to be more centered on club football. And who can blame them? World Class players making lots of money from their clubs whose nation is only partly interested in their football exploits leads to a strong club over country attitude.

The World Cup has lost a tactical genius in Giovanni Trapattoni, in favor of a manager in Raymond Dommench, whose main guide is astrology and superstition. We have not seen Henry’s former Arsenal team mate Robert Pires in France colors for five years, because after all he is a Scorpio and Dommench does not trust Scorpio’s.

The scenes of French ticket holders gladly selling their tickets to Irish fans for a few Euros before kickoff in Paris should reinforce the reasons why I wrote this piece earlier this week, before the match. Ireland has been deprived a World Cup trip by Thierry Henry’s handball, while much of France may not even be in the slightest bit interested that their nation actually qualified for the World Cup.

That’s then ultimate legacy of this shameful two leg tie. World Football was the loser. Henry handball, or no handball, the wrong side advanced to South Africa.

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  1. DoublePivot

    November 21, 2009 at 7:44 am

    It’s funny how the French seemed embarrassed about this, with many calling for a replay.

    But Arsenal, whose whole history is grounded in cheating (that’s how they got in the top flight to stay after all) are the only people supporting cheating, Henry and status-quo, even though their cult leader doesn’t support it because he’s French. Tells you a lot about what kind of people that support Arsenal.

    Kartik is right. Henry is a vile person. He is only calling for a replay now that he sees he might lose endorsement money.

    • Bobby

      November 23, 2009 at 2:24 pm

      sounds like vile spur scum talk rite there like you and your club haven’t been Fd by a non call or a bad call get over yourself mate why dont you and kartik get a room put on ur sundresses and do each other in the batty

  2. Susie

    November 20, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    To the person who compilled that list of countries who’d care to see Ireland qualify, you forgot CANADA!!! Im not the least bit Irish but I would have sooner seen them qualify than the French, who let it be said, have a long history of cheating.

    This is nothing new.

    Thierry Henry falling to the ground, clutching his face, pretending Carles Puyol had elbowed him in order to get the Spaniard sent off, during the last World Cup, comes to mind.

    • Bobby

      November 20, 2009 at 6:29 pm

      canada weren’t included because we are only talking about real countries not made up places 😛 jk

  3. Austin

    November 20, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Kartik, this is absolute nonsense.

    I was almost shocked at how fair your discussion was with Lawrence McKenna on the podcast the other day, thinking that for sure your bias would rear it’s head and, what do you know, it certainly has. A boycott of Henry and his sponsor brands?! Seriously?? For all of the nonsense, all the cheating on the field and trouble off of it that come standard with the modern star footballer, you are really calling we boycott Henry based upon this incident? What an incredible double standard that is.

    Enough of this garbage. Let’s talk EPL again.

  4. jleau

    November 20, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Kartik, this is around the fifth ridiculous rant on Irish football in less than a week. Move on!

    I should be criticising myself for continuing to read this redundant garbage.

    The EPL is back tomorrow and that’s what this site is supposed to be about.

  5. Diarmuid

    November 20, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Boycott Gillette. It is the only way that fans collectively can make their voice heard. Write to Gillette managers in both the US and Europe. While it is useful to discuss these issues on these forums, the power of the consumer rules all.

    • Darren

      November 20, 2009 at 3:56 pm

      That is stupid man. Honestly.

  6. Scott

    November 20, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    “Ireland has been deprived a World Cup trip by Thierry Henry’s handball, while much of France may not even be in the slightest bit interested that their nation actually qualified for the World Cup.”

    The Irish we not deprived of a trip to the World Cup…they were deprived a CHANCE at a trip to the World Cup. The distinction is subtle but no less important. Had the handball been called the game would have continued and one of the two teams would have had win it on their own. The Irish hadn’t won anything at the time of the handball, they were even. No more, no less.

    And I’m starting to get confused with your arguments, you now seem to be implying that whether or not a country gets to go to the World Cup should be dependent on how great their fans are. If that’s true we’d be screwed here in the US where we can’t fil a 50,000 seat stadium with our own fans. Are you suggesting the US should never be in a World Cup cause it’s not like the general US population really cares?

  7. Grant

    November 20, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    The fact that there is someone writing for this site that thinks the plural of Scorpio is Scorpio’s is a little ridiculous.

    As is claiming Thierry Henry is a cheat because of one hand ball. For Christ’s sake, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Wayne “I don’t dive” Rooney have all dived and cheated just as blatantly.

    Why is it that whenever a foreigner, that just so happens not to play for Liverpool, cheats, it’s a big deal, but if an Englishman or someone who plays for Liverpool cheats, that’s not a problem?

  8. fabien

    November 20, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Please keep in mind that a survey say that 75% of french think it’s a scandal,
    and would like this match to be replayed.
    I’m french, I’m not proud of that.

    Ok, henry made a mistake, I would like this match to be replayed… like most of french : I don’t want to win with a cheat !

    Please remind that.

  9. Abbey

    November 20, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    You are a bad looser. Tell me why do we have referree, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so on official. Simple to monitor mistakes, deliberate antics, fouls, errors based on reflexes etc. When they fail to pick any of the above, why crucifying the players. You just pause and ask yourself sincerely if Damien Duff or ranting robbie keen had been in Henry’s shoe today would you have been shouting your head off as you are doing now? No you would not so wise up its all part of the game. Every player tries to play smart. How many times have we seen player kicked the ball into touch for throw in and the same player will raise his hand up to say its the opponent that did that. Stop ridiculing yourself players dive to get penalty. Wait till world cup kick off and England is in semi final and Rooney help you by touching the ball before finally burry it into the far corner. How many of you hypocrites castigating Henry now will raise your voice. You are all bad loosers. Its only you who will prefer ireland to France in South africa thats the hard truth

  10. Avik

    November 20, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Is this is the most juvenile crap being posted time and again in this site. And by the same blogger I should add… We know of numerous games where our teams have been wronged due to some bad calls but that’s football. and that’ s life. Of course, if some Ireland had a goal in this fashion, then all the fans would have sung in a different tune. That’s how it is, cause there are times when my teams have got an unfair advantage by a mistake of ref…

    What is the limit of admitting your guilt and playing fair? Now defenders will go and tell refs “yes, I pulled his shirt inside the box, and they should get a penalty”… or forward will go and tell “I elbowed the defender before taking that header, so please disallow the goal…” ? This is simply stupid and we all know this… It was a illegitimate action (intentional or not) and the ref did not catch it. So there… End of discussion. It is France who will be playing in WC 2010. Tough luck for the Irish… Better luck next time.

    (Statuary disclaimer: I am neither a supporter of France or Ireland. But these sort of silly, poorly argued, playing on the fan’s emotions articles are pissing me off…)

    • Darren

      November 20, 2009 at 2:33 pm


  11. Bobby

    November 20, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Kartik’s an idiot plain and simple get over yourself mate as an england and arsenal supporter have seen and been thru hundreds of plays like this sometimes benefiting and others not (hand of god still the biggest cheat in the world maradona the lil basterd) so move on honestly sound like a bunch of lil girls complaining and whining just put on your sundress and bonnett and get over it.

  12. Anthony

    November 20, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Hey Dave, How do the English come into this exactly, English=England, Irish=Ireland, two different countries, cultures, music, literature, myths, overall identities. I mean its great to think you speak for the rest of the world as to who the millions upon millions of fans want to see in the world cup, it saves all those millions having an opinion for themselves as you seem to know exactly who is interested in watching Ireland in the world cup. Lets see the countries you listed, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, England and America, hmmmm, thats a population well 500 million people. That in itself would be a substantial number of viewers I believe not to say other fans from other countries around the globe possibly, because I do not have the same psychic powers as yourself and cannot read the minds of the entire planets population I can only guess there are fans of the sport that do care. Its an international sport and is played in every corner of the globe , no matter the country, culture and language. Its beauty is it belongs to no one and is played by everyone and crosses all cultural boundaries and connects all people more than any language ever could. So I disagree, there are a lot of fans that care and love the sport. With your statement “France is going to the World Cup, and that is that. Move on.” you should not only be employed by FIFA but should become head of the organization beacuse thats what they are saying to the millions upon millions of fans that have voiced their opinions. It appears people do care simply from looking at the endless blogs and responses. “Nobody gives a rats ass” once again I appreciate your uncanny ability to speak for the millions of independent minded fans that view the world cup but I think just possibly you’re not speaking for everyone, just maybe.

  13. Jake

    November 20, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Good points in your article until the last sentence, “the wrong side advanced to South Africa.” Who are you to say that? That’s why their is qualifying, so the deserving sides go to South Africa. Now, whether they advanced wrongly due to a handball, that’s not to say they wouldn’t have or don’t deserve to go based on a win. You can’t determine who goes to the World Cup on your opinion because of the fans, the country, or the players. The players play on the field for a reason, and the team that wins the matches and qualifies is the team that deserves to advance.

  14. F1Mikal

    November 20, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Sheesh, you guys are so easily lead; this incident has nothing to do with Henry’s handball but rather by the rules of FIFA.

    If the supporters don’t stand up, make a statement to FIFA, to get the rules changed/amended, then you will continue to sit around and whinge like 12 old girls.

    And FIFA will continue to push this under the table; and NO we don’t instant reply on every bit of controversy; but in one or 2 instances it is necessary or put 2 more officials on the pitch. Its not like FIFA is poor and cannot afford it. (I was in Nassau this year, I saw how they spend money)

  15. Ivan

    November 20, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Why are people still talking about this? Bad ref decisions are a part of the game; get over it and move on! I am sick of crying Irish people.
    Bottom line: France is through; it was a bad no-call and a handball, and it is part of the game ; now, cry me a river.
    There have been worse ref decisions in football history, and at bigger occasions:
    Semi-final, USA’94: Italia-Bulgaria: Billy Costacurta makes a double-handed block in the penalty area, but the ref, Joel Quiniou, won’t give the Bulgarians a second penalty against Italy; game ends 2:1, Italians go on to the final.
    South Korea got to the semis in 2002 after countless attrocious calls going in their favor against both Italy and Spain(disallowed goals, non-existing red cards).
    World Cup final, 1990: Germany-Argentina; ref Edgardo Codelas awards a non-existant penalty late in the game for the Germans to win the title.
    And that’s just off the top of my head.
    So, move on; Ireland didnot have a good team. A good coach and a fighting spirit may be good enough to get you to win the Gaelic cgames, but it is not good enough to get you to the World Cup. As I said earlier, I’d rather see Ribery create magic next summer than John O’Shea commit crimes against the football every time he touches the ball…

  16. The Guvnah

    November 20, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Henry is a footballer, not a referee or linesman. I give him credit for admitting he cheated the rules, but what else could he have come out and said? He was honest that he cheated.

    In light of the Irish anger, he had no choice other than to admit his guilt. Come on now, when was the last time you wanted a nation angry at you? Try finding a garbage can in London… get the picture? There arent any for fear of retributions from northern (greener) nations.

    Asking for a replay is fair. FIFA rejecting it is fair. The world still revolves. I mean its not like Henry poked a guy in the eyes through his facemask. Perhaps he should bench himself for the first 45 minutes of their next game.

    • Jorge Curioso

      November 20, 2009 at 12:34 pm

      He admitted only because he was captured red-handed on film. To deny would have been too perfidious, even for him.

      He lied about intent, initially, because he thought he could get away with that.

      Ban him, and DQ France.

      • Darren

        November 20, 2009 at 2:31 pm

        you are having a laugh mate. He addmitted it to Richard Dunne on the pitch already, that has been well documented. So clearly, you have no credibilty and just want some strange retribution because you are choked. Bad calls happen in football every game. Get over it, its only a game.

  17. Darren

    November 20, 2009 at 10:35 am

    A boycott on Henry? Are you kidding me? Get some freaking perspective man. Who allows you to produce these ridiclous articles?

  18. brn442

    November 20, 2009 at 10:32 am

    The writer and his obvious pro – Irish bias. Nothing is wrong with that, they’re the best fans at World Cups bar none.

    But trying to will a country into a world cup through gross generalizations, inaccuracies (including allegations of sorcery), and stereotypes is simply sad.

    Giving up a late goal at home to Italy, too many draws, finishing the first leg with a 0-1 deficit at home are the reasons Eire will not be in South Africa.

    According to the British Press, Beckham was supposed to be tied up and quartered after being sent off in France 98′ – he would never play club football in England again they said, Ferguson would have to send him to the Continent

    In 2006 in was Ronaldo’s turn, he too would have to be sold, there would be training pitch bust ups with Rooney they said, boycotts by Man U fans, everything short of a lynching. Ferguson as he always have, simply ignored this faux hysteria and was rewarded with two European Cups for doing so.

    Football fans (and Bloggers) are fickle, in two weeks everyone will be focused on their clubs again. Now excuse me while I go have a shave.

  19. Jon

    November 20, 2009 at 10:27 am

    I agree with JM above, but more imporantly Kartik, I think we’ve covered this story enough on EPLTalk now myself. I do not want to stifle discussion or debate, but it has been the subject of repeated articles by yourself and other authors, hundreds of comments and no less than two podcasts on this website alone. That’s not including the virtual ink spilled on thousands of blogs, newspapers, and other websites.

    We all know your position, and most of your supporters and detractors. Enough is enough at this stage, for me. Let’s move on and talk about other things, like the resumption of club football this weekend, or cow’s placentas, or, frankly, anything else.

  20. LS

    November 20, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Calling Henry a “Public Relations driven phony” is over-the-top and I’ve never cared for him as a player. When he was with Arsenal I thought he dove, whinged and preened far too much. He is a supremely talented player, there is no question of that.

    But is he a phony? That’s being too cynical. Are you saying his participation in the anti-racism campaign is simply a PR move and he doesn’t mind being called derogatory names by elderly Spanish coaches?

    You don’t know the man on a personal level and are basing this on one incident. Having had more time to reflect on the incident, I am not going to defend what he did in the Ireland game but I will not stoop to character assassination. I would like to think this site and you would also try to live up to a higher standard.

    I know you are an Irish supporter as you’ve disclosed but Roy Keane has pointed out that Ireland benefited from a dubious penalty call against Georgia during qualifying. Like most people I had forgotten this incident.

    You watch this clip and tell me where the penalty is:

    What does Robbie Keane have to say about this? Did he go over to the ref and tell him it was not a penalty? The British press referred to it as “generous”, “fortunate” and “the luck of the Irish”

    Trapattoni himself said “I am in football for 40 years and do you know how many penalties like this there are in every country? We had the luck in this situation but every Sunday in every country there are many situations like this. I think over the 90 minutes we deserved to win.”

    • Jorge Curioso

      November 20, 2009 at 12:33 pm

      Yes, his “anti-racisim” stuff is entirely cynical and self-serving.

      He’s a phony.

  21. Daveg

    November 20, 2009 at 10:20 am

    I’m 100% Irish
    I don’t believe that we deserve a replay
    I agree with Roy Keane, we should have beaten the French easily enough if Keane/Duff/O’ Shea had finished their chances
    It was an awful decision by the ref….he missed it…the Lino missed it…Henry got away with it…but in all honesty listen to what the Royster says about it…
    “I’d be more annoyed with my defenders and my goalkeeper than Thierry Henry. How can you let the ball bounce in your six-yard box? How can you let Thierry Henry get goal-side of you? If the ball goes into the six-yard box, where the hell is my goalkeeper?”
    Football is a cruel mistress
    We (Ireland) have been wronged…noting we can do about it but move on.

  22. jm

    November 20, 2009 at 10:18 am

    I don’t think this is the right moral standard (though to be honest, I don’t think this is a moral issue at all, bad calls are not moral crimes, no matter the sporting harm and emotional outrage caused to fans of the aggrieved side). We have here a player who broke a rule in a match, may or may not have admitted it at the time, but certainly admitted it immediately afterwards (whatever further details have come to light).

    If our standard of moral evaluation is (a) telling refs when a call has been missed, and (b) immediately calling for a replay for a missed call, then we have a moral standard that will condemn most sporting figures into the boycott-heap. It is extremely rare for any athlete to correct a ref on a call in their favor. This is because (I would argue) sporting rules are closed-system violations. They are not ethical violations on their own, they are only violations within the confines of the game. It is the referee’s responsibility to account for them. This is in contrast with something like match-fixing, which is external to the system. Thus, I think there are two problems with assigning this standard to Henry: (a) it assigns most every player into this category, the only differentiating factor being the stakes, and (b) it applies an improper standard to all of these players.

    Further, it is not clear to me what the problem is with these remarks. I don’t know the timeline about the quotations in question, but it seems to be driven by your interpretation that he is a phony – rather than driving it. Now, I’ll admit to a bias in favor of Henry, but I am inclined to interpret these remarks as him thinking about the handball and feeling guilty for it – and thus coming to the conclusion that a replay would be the best solution. My bias (but also familiarity with Henry in other public circumstances) drives my interpretation. What evidence do we have that your interpretation (the “phony” one) is right, while mine is wrong? We are reading an awful lot into a few comments that do not even contradict one another.

    I simply do not understand the vitriol against Henry from so many quarters (except fans of Ireland, that’s expected – I’d be mad at everyone). He handled the ball and admitted it. Expecting him to admit it during the match applies an unreasonable standard to him. The only other support for the vitriol I can think of is the slow motion replay, which has prompted people to think that it was calculating and deliberate. Of course, we are looking at time slowed down to such a degree that conscious deliberation is simply not feasible. We think our way through the replay, however, as if Henry had the time to consider it that we do. This is obviously a mistake, and without it, most of the harshest claims of “cheat” simply fall away. He is a “cheat” in the sense that he broke the rules, though we do not have sufficient evidence that he deliberately intended to. Instead, we have an infraction by Henry, which should have been called. It was not, and it was not called in a vitally important situation. This is on the referee, this is on the difficulty in calling athletic events at such high speed, it is on Henry insofar as he broke the rule, but demanding boycotts is making Henry into a moral villain. There is absolutely nothing here to support such a drastic interpretation of the events.

    • AtlantaPompey

      November 22, 2009 at 2:25 pm

      “Expecting him to admit it during the match applies an unreasonable standard to him”

      You’re right. Good sportsmanship is an unreasonable standard. Players are expected to cheat in order to win. That doesn’t make it okay, though.

  23. Nick

    November 20, 2009 at 10:16 am

    Im really getting tired of hearing this.

    Obviously the goal shouldnt of counted. But to label Henry and the French team “cheaters” is retarded. Clearly the ref squad is at fault here. Take your aim at the refs…not the players.

    Because of course..if it was the other way around the Irish would be singing a different tune. Its clearly an unfortunate way to not advance to South Africa…but nonetheless, maybe if the entire defense didnt stop defending and start bellyaching over the penalties…maybes omebody couldve cleared that ball which was possible.

  24. Joe Ginto

    November 20, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Yeah, you’re right, Dave. The incident happened on Wednesday and it’s now almost 48 hours later! Why are people going on and on about this?! Just get over it, people. The French cheated and they’re in. Them’s the breaks. Oh, well. Time to move on. Whatever.

    Everyone knows the World Cup is a popularity contest right? The rest of the world wants France in the WC anyway so why all the fuss?

    The French deserve Domenech.

  25. Dave Trotter

    November 20, 2009 at 9:51 am

    The only people that want to see Ireland go through are the Irish, English, Scotish, Australians and Americans. Besides that, nobody gives a rats ass which team goes to the World Cup. And I bet if you did a poll in non-English speaking countries “who would you rather have in the World Cup, France or Ireland,” I’m sure France would win by a large margin.

    Second, a replay isn’t going to happen. France is going to the World Cup, and that is that. Move on. Ireland kind of reminds me of English, dwelling on the past. You would assume, by what the English say, that England is the best team in the world because they won the World Cup in 1966 and beat German in 2001 5-1. That is pretty much their football history.

    I think this is driven by the jealousy of the English supporters over the French because the French have been highly successful in the last 12 years, and England hasn’t.

    • Jorge Curioso

      November 20, 2009 at 12:36 pm

      Hey, you forgot Anglo-Canadians in your bizarre list.

      As for living in the past, the Anglosphere has a rather brighter recent history than the French, for whom it’s been all downhill since 1789.

  26. Simon Burke

    November 20, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Good post Kartik. I am a big Arsenal fan and half Irish (real Irish, not been there once Irish). I found Henry’s actions poor. He didnt mean it but I think he should have fessed up immediately. If not then, after the final whistle in an apology. He didnt.
    However this is the next best thing – calling for a replay. I also think Arsene Wenger’s comments today are as much what fueled him as any. Wenger was embarrassed to have to criticise Henry who he genuinely likes and now Henry has said replay.
    I havent heard a peep out of Platini incidentally.

    I doubt we’ll get a replay but at this point I think France is so tainted that they may wish for one.

    Henry could have stayed silent and hidden away in Barcelona but at least has called for a replay. Its very late in the day but a step in the right direction. I felt very let down by him as I always thought he might be one of those very few footballers who when confronted with the situation would do the right thing immediately. I was wrong.

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