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.