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Henry’s handball: is a replay the solution?

By | 20th November 2009

So, France made it to the World Cup at the expense of the Republic of Ireland. Expected? Maybe. Still, the way Les Blues made it through is far more than questionable.

For those of you who were hibernating during the past week and somehow don’t know how France qualified, Thierry Henry handled the ball 13  minutes into extra time and passed it to William Gallas, who headed the controversial goal allowing France to reach next year’s finals with a 2-1 win on aggregate. The Irish players screamed, fought, yelled, and cried as referee Martin Hansson waved them away.

In the aftermath of the game, Irish captain Robbie Keane blasted UEFA President Michel Platini and FIFA President Sepp Blatter, saying that they were probably “clapping hands, delighted with the result.” Defender Sean St. Ledger, feeling that his team was better than France in both legs, said that they were “robbed.”

The hand ball was so obvious that even the perpetrator, Thierry Henry, admitted it. “It was a handball, but I’m not the ref,” he told BBC Radio Five Live.

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) sent a formal request to FIFA asking for a replay. Sadly, FIFA rejected the request, saying in a statement that “the result of the match cannot be changed and the match cannot be replayed. As is clearly mentioned in the Laws of the Game, during matches, decisions are taken by the referee and these decisions are final.”

That’s a sad turn of events for the world of football. The entire planet witnessed the mistake and yet there won’t be any justice for the Irish. For France, it is a sad way to reach the finals as they have become automatic villains in the world’s eyes.

Arsene Wenger has taken the opportunity to argue yet again that technology is needed in football. He has also stated that the reasonable solution would be for France to offer the replay. An embarrassed Thierry Henry is backing his former manager’s opinion as he believes a replay would be the “fairest solution.”

The FAI released a statement saying that they will have a meeting “where the matter will be considered.” In view of their options, it is probably safe to assume that the Irish players will be watching the World Cup from home. Very unfair.

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