Sepp Blatter: "I used this one myself. Swear!"
There’s no other explanation for the decision to investigate Thierry Henry’s handball. Or maybe that just makes Sepp Blatter indecisive. Or maybe he’s just insane. Who really knows at this point? The whole Ireland-France situation has devolved into the worst parts of a kindergarten class: everyone whining and then FIFA taking its ball and going home. Of course, the Irish FA’s request to be the 33rd team in the World Cup was absolutely insane. Then again, so was FIFA’s handling of the matter – a one-off playoff would have been an acceptable solution, with international precedent – and now the stupid, misguided, idiotic singling out of Thierry Henry. Why hasn’t the referee been called out? Or, better yet, the referee’s assistants who most definitely should have seen the handball. I know the answer: FIFA is insane. As an organization, it is greedy, bureaucratic, obstinate, controlling, jealous, selfish, imperious, and possibly corrupt. Would you date a girl like that? I think not. Unless you’re a gold-digger. In any event, FIFA – and Sepp Blatter – are clearly insane. The world needs to break up with them ASAP.
This whole thing is frustrating me.
I need a drink.
Filed under FIFA, World Cup
Thierry Henry's handball v. Ireland (AFP/Getty Images)
Ireland has given up its quixotic quest to become the 33rd team in the 2010 World Cup. Well, I’m glad that’s settled. I was getting worried that the Irish FA might embarrass itself.
Arsène Wenger says he’ll spend money in January to replace Robin van Persie, who’s out, apparently, forever. The kicker is that Wenger will only spend “at the right price.” Of course he will. So don’t get your hopes up, Arsenal fans.
Amid speculation that Sergio “Kun” Agüero is off to Chelsea in January (ahead, apparently, of the transfer ban that was supposed to be in effect), even AS.com says ESPN is responsible for that rumor. When AS disavows a rumor, you know it can’t be true.
Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or. Like anyone is surprised by that.
Because FIFA said so. And that happened even though Thierry Henry said it would be the fairest solution.
Arsène Wenger chimed in, as well, noting that the referee should have asked for help:
“For two reasons; first of all Henry didn’t celebrate at the start, that gives an indication to the referee, but spontaneously 11 Irish players came to see the referee. That doesn’t happen if it’s not something obvious. You have two, three or four but not 11 and that convinced him to go and see the linesman as well and say ‘Listen, I didn’t see what happened, can you help me?'”
That, to me, is what makes a great referee great: the ability to ask for help. A great referee needs to realize that he can’t see everything. After, assistant referees are there for a reason: to help you out. With all that said, there is no way that referee Martin Hansson can be anything but the goat. Too bad FIFA won’t do anything about it.
A lot of soccer players – and athletes in general – talk about honor. Usually they mean something like playing to honor a dead, dying, or otherwise important relative or stranger or great player from the past. Announcers push their morality onto the players. The best example in the US is the sanctimonious football and baseball announcer Joe Buck. Rarely does anyone talk about honor on the pitch.
David Halberstom wrote a great book called The Breaks of the Game which basically sums up how athletes feel about cheating, luck, or what have you. It boils down to the idea that everything evens out, that everyone will eventually get the same number of breaks. Thierry Henry implied as much after his handball tied the match with Ireland yesterday. ”It was a handball, but I’m not the ref,” he said on BBC Radio Five Live. ”The ball hit my arm, fell in front of me and I played it. The ref allowed it. That’s a question you should ask him.” The player admitted the mistake but blamed the ref for not catching it. Them’s the breaks, he says.
Except “breaks” is a terms to describe something flukey. It’s pretty obvious that Henry created his own break there by cradling the ball so it wouldn’t go out of bounds and then passing across the box, which William Gallas slotted home for the tying goal (and the goal that put France through to the World Cup, something it does not deserve even a little bit). If it was accidental, I could accept that. But it clearly wasn’t. It was purposeful. It was intentional. It was a desperate act by a member of a desperate team. Imagine the ignominy if France had not made it to the World Cup!
One could argue that Ireland did it to themselves by not winning in Dublin on Saturday. Sure, that holds some water. But not enough. Ireland played better yesterday and scored a legitimate goal. A penalty shootout should have been their just reward, if not for Henry’s chicanery.
The FAI is, predictably, apoplectic. It wants a replay, which does have some precedent (a 2005 match between Uzbekistan and Bahrain was declared invalid after a referee mistake). FIFA should do the right thing: order a replay. Perhaps France will win 2-0 and erase any doubt. Perhaps Ireland will win 2-0 and overcome the goal given up in Dublin. Who knows? The only thing I know is that the result should not stand. It’s the moral thing to do.