Now that the furore surrounding Thierry Henry’s handball against Ireland has calmed down I thought that my thoughts could be finally be heard.
Firstly, I don’t blame Henry. Whether he meant it or not it doesn’t matter. The only moment when Henry would have had the clarity of thought to admit to what he had done, intentionally or not, was after Gallas had peeled off in celebration.
Can we blame Henry for not admitting it? No, of course not. If Ireland had gone on to win (they weren’t winning at the time) then Henry would be hated by his country and teammates alike. The French public forgave Zidane, they wouldn’t forgive Henry.
Henry can regret not speaking up at the time but he had approximately 5 seconds to make the decision. Furthermore, if he does own up it is not a guarantee that the correct decision would be made (see Robbie Fowler penalty versus Arsenal).
Thierry Henry has been called a cheater by a lot of people. I would extend this list to almost every footballer, professional or not. We have all gained a free kick or throw in which we know should have gone the other way. I would immediately throw Roy Carroll into this bracket (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/4130167.stm). Note the poll on the right of the screen.
Let’s categorise Slaven Bilic in that list (http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/internationals/croatian-rocker-who-wants-to-roll-over-rooney-419478.html)
It could go on.
For this whole shambles I blame FIFA and the referees. How the linesman missed the handball I’ll never know. They should be banned from going to the World Cup as punishment for a calamitous error.
FIFA should have long introduced video technology for the fourth official. The rule in using it should be as follows: “If the fourth official recognises an incident which is conclusive beyond all doubt which the referee and his team have not seen then it is his duty to inform them of the incident in question.”
This denies the fourth official the license to rule on penalty decisions, all of which have an element of doubt, off-sides, unless obviously wrong, or general fouls. However, the Henry incident, the Bilic incident, the Carroll incident, the Rivaldo incident and the Zidane incident would be irradiated without any controversy.
I do not subscribe to the view that it will delay the game due to the melee which always ensues after an ‘incident’; there will always be sufficient time for the odd replay. Also, the argument that the beauty of football is that the same game can be played anywhere and introducing video at the highest level would distort that does not sit well either. Cricket and Rugby have not been harmed by the introduction at the highest level only. Also, the games which have extensive enough video coverage tend to be the ones that matter the most, including play-off games for all leagues and any Cup final.
Now is the time to use the technology at our disposal to remove things which referees can’t see or fail to see.