As Sunderland prepare to face Arsenal, the debate rages on. Should France v Republic of Ireland be replayed? If so, what about Reading 1 Sunderland 0 (goal given, not over line), Sunderland 1 Aston Villa 1 (legitimate, last second SAFC winner inexplicably denied by Steve Bentley), Sunderland 1 Liverpool 0 (beachball clinches the points).
One view of Thierry Henry’s public contrition is that it reaffirms his greatness; another is that it was a little belated and therefore that public reaction forced his hand (sorry).
No serious football controversy would be complete without
Pete Sixsmithweighing in. And he says the Irish just have to get on with life …
Like the poor Swedish referee, I didn’t see the Henry Handball incident on Wednesday. I was driving home from Billingham, having got my midweek football fix by watching an entertaining game between Synthonia and West Allotment Celtic (2-1 to the visitors if you really want to know), but I did have the commentary on Radio 5 Live.
In between the whoops and soars and the intervention of Radio Moscow, I heard John Murray say absolutely clearly that Henry had handled it and the goal should not have stood. Mark Lawrenson came on at the end of the 90 minutes and said the same, only more forcefully. Both spoke about the need for technology to help the officials with their decisions.
Understandably, the Irish are unhappy about this decision, but my view is that they have to accept it and move on. Yes, Henry deliberately moved the ball on with his hand and a vital goal was scored. But demands for a replay are not on; if that happened and set a precedent, Manchester United would play every game, every season until they won it. You can imagine Sir Alex demanding a replay even if his team had lost 4-0 because “the opposition goalkeeper put a foot outside the penalty box and that led to the first goal” or some such drivel.
The same applies to the use of camera technology. Certain managers from the Govan district of Glasgow would demand constant replays and if they went against his team would accuse the cameraman of being unfit or a Mackem or both. Certain managers from Strasbourg and with a professorial image would still maintain that, even though the camera proved conclusively that one of his players had fouled an opponent in the box and had then decapitated him with a hacksaw, “the camera was not accurate as I did not see it”.
Rugby League introduced camera technology years ago courtesey of Sky TV. It is not the answer to everything. Certain decisions are still very difficult to call accurately. In the recent Grand Final between Leeds and St Helens, a try was given to Leeds after copious looks at the video. The arguments still rage over it with Leeds fans saying it was and Saints fans disagreeing. Also, it can take an age. At a recent game I was able to eat a three course meal complete with brandy and cigars before “No Try” flashed up on the screen.
So, what is the answer? I’m afraid there ain’t one. We could go ackto the Corinthians in the 19th. Century who refused to even attempt to save a penalty kick awarded against them because it was unsporting. Lionel Perez obviously followed this dictum in the play off final in 1999 as he stood motionless as Charlton converted penalty after penalty.
We could encourage footballers to be more like cricketers and admit that they have not done what they had claimed to do e.g. claim a catch after the ball has bounced. No cricketer would ever refuse to walk if he were out, whether he was wearing his MCC sweater or his baggy green cap. Or maybe they would……….
Henry took advantage of the inability of the officials to see whether he handled or not. I would imagine if the whistle had gone he would have given a Gallic Shrug and accepted it. He didn’t have to because it wasn’t seen. Players will always seek an advantage; Francis Lee dived, Cloughie went down in the penalty area and (sorry Nathalie) a decent man like Gary MacAllister did a hop, step and jump to get an undeserved penalty. The line between seeking an advantage and cheating is a fine one. Henry overstepped it. I think we are all disappointed by him – but if Andy Reid did it this weekend…………?