On Air: The spirit of sport

It’s supposed to be  FOOTball … but one player used his HAND instead in a game on Wednesday. – it’s caused a diplomatic row, and a lot of soul-searching about the spirit of sport.

Thierry Henry controlled the ball with his left hand – twice – before passing to William Gallas, who scored the goal that takes France- not Ireland- to the World Cup Finals in South Africa next year. And the French striker has just said the game should be replayed

The Irish government isn’t happy, with the country’s Justice Minister calling for a replay.

The French Prime Minister, Francois Fillon, has hit back: he says Irish politicians shouldn’t get involved in footballing decisions.

Many say the French Football federation should do the decent thing ; offer a replay, win the game and go to South Africa with heads held high and the warm approval of the world’s sports-lovers.

I don’t think we should hold our breath.

Have a look at this video on Youtube . Paolo Di Canio, playing for West Ham, caught the ball rather than score when the opposition goalkeeper lay injured.

There are examples of players refusing to take penalties because they weren’t fouled and players stopping other players from being sent off. Ok, not oftem but it does happen.

Richard Williams in the Guardian :

“We all know which way Henry decided to go. With a broad, exultant beam on his face, he raced away from the scene of the crime to join Gallas and their team-mates in celebration of a goal that all knew was likely to be decisive in the battle for a place in next summer’s World Cup finals.For this was no ordinary piece of cheating. National pride and tens of millions of euros were at stake. So much greater, then, would have been the admiration of a decision to own up.”

Ireland’s radio stations were full of people upset and complaining yesterday – the big theme being “what sort of message does this send to kids ?”

In France itself there is discomfort and a growing Twitter campaign. Almost certainly to no avail.

So is winning what’s important , no matter how ? Or does it matter that you do it the right way ?

54 Responses to “On Air: The spirit of sport”

  1. 1 Roy Dickinson
    November 19, 2009 at 19:04

    not when it costs the countries, players, and associations money. It was pretty obvious when FIFA after the fact introduced the seedings that they were favouring France and Portugal. It makes a mockery of FIFAs “Fair Play” charter and drags the game even further into the gutter. The only way forward is video and goal line technology, managers challenges and lifetime bans for cheaters.

  2. 2 rex holmes
    November 19, 2009 at 19:25

    I thought the interview on PM regarding Thiery Henry completetly missed the mark.

    To say “it is only a game” is probably the most crass statement made on Radio recently made. Ireland have now lost the opportunity to go to the World Cup and cheating is seen as ok if one can get away with it

    Henry cheated and yes the rules say play to whistle but there also a rule that says the game should be played in a sortmanlike way.

    If Henry had guts he should have repoted his deliberate handball to the referee.

    Now his previosly good image will be permanently damaged.

    Finally what message does this give to youngsters.

    Please can we have sensible decent people on the PM programme rather than apologists

  3. 3 Ukeje Ezenwa Maduabuchi
    November 19, 2009 at 19:27

    Its unfortunate the beautiful game is going down into the drains because of board room politics.Platini and Blatter,has been the cause of these degrading event facing soccer.
    Referees are advised on what to do and how to take the game.Players,fans and clubs never go unpunished,once any foul play is noticed or experienced.
    Referees even when ovious that they made clear and open wrong and favourable decisions,they never get punished or asked to pay a fine,ban from games,or asked to withdrawn from high-class game.
    You say anything about referee officiating,you are punishment,and why they are not punished is because they are guided and influenced by the higher body who ask them to do so.
    What a shame that the beautiful game is now politics decieded by Blattere and Platini.Don’t be surprised that they might decide that no African nation should be allowed to win the 2010 world cup or that the world cup should be won by an African nation and the referees will put that into action.

  4. 4 Tom D Ford
    November 19, 2009 at 19:51

    I think that the game needs to recognize that modern media can expose wrong calls by referees and update the rules to enable video replays to be used to clean up the games.

  5. 5 Tom K in Mpls
    November 19, 2009 at 20:09

    Anything to get their way, or a vote, or whatever. The means doesn’t matter if the issue is true.

  6. November 19, 2009 at 20:20

    I think the game should be left as its been, these wrongs have been there ever since and we all aware those (wrongs in football) are taboos to mention. Even at the top level certain countries are no to play each other in group stages, like adopted by CAF, countries such as Ghana, Ivory Coast and Angola must under no circumstance be seeded in the same group because someone somewhere has his money bet on them…

  7. November 19, 2009 at 20:32

    I think the game should be left as its been, these wrongs have been there ever since and we all aware those (wrongs in football) are taboos to mention. Even at the top level certain countries are no to play each other in group stages, like adopted by CAF for CAN 09, countries such as Ghana, Ivory Coast and Angola must under no circumstance be seeded in the same group because someone somewhere has his money bet on them. Yet we say its just a game..

    • 8 abdelkhalek laouane
      November 22, 2009 at 11:14

      u have right Kwame Marc, u cant repeat the game,of course it was unfair goal but this is not something new..Irish people should be satisfate to keep proud for them self..because honestly if the game has been replyed i just couldnt see the french team beaten…i have the feeling that french team with those african players lions wil win the game and maybe with a monster score . keep proud of your self Irland, and also respect to Henry, he is an great personaly.

  8. 9 jason bardwell
    November 19, 2009 at 23:30

    Unfortunately this has been going on in the game since the game has been going on. Remember the Hand of God from Diego Maradona against England? I do not think the game should be replayed but I do think that the referee and game officials will have to explain themselves and possibly even miss out on the chance of going to the World Cup themselves. As far as Henry is concerned, he is not the first player to cheat for his team in a ‘big game’. Remember Eduardo in the Champions League diving in the area to get his team a penalty. In that situation he was banned and then that decision was overturned, so to ban Henry would not be any justice for two reasons 1) It would just be overturned on appeal, and they would cite the previous example. 2) Even if a ban stood he would only miss a few ‘friendly’ games and still be in South Africa in 2010. The answer is in technology, we have it and use it in other sports, tennis and in the NFL to name just two but until it is more important to FIFA to get the right teams to these competitions and not just the bigger named teams then it will never be implemented and human errors like this will continue.

  9. 10 Elias
    November 19, 2009 at 23:43

    The Irish Justice Minister may call for a replay, he will not get it. Once the whistle is blown ending the match, the result stands. Nothing any one can do will change it.

  10. 11 Bridgetown Barbados
    November 20, 2009 at 01:22

    It is pretty hard to swallow any error in decision-making that keeps a team out of a series as popular as the World Cup. I think the honourable thing to do is having seen the replay then the coach/manager and players should have discussed the issue and approach FIFA to have the goal disqualified. We have to be accountable and ethical in our conduct on and off the field, we do not need government involved for an on-field error. I also agree that use of technology could have made a difference. I am very disappointed that this involves Henry, he is my favorite footballer. The Egypt-Algeria situation is slightly different although I don’t know that a recall of the ambassador is the best response to the situation.

  11. 12 Nathan Xu in Adelaide Australia
    November 20, 2009 at 01:36

    I hope it was a honest mistake made by the referee. However, I am incline to believe FIFA had a part to allow France won the game. I am disappointed with Henry’s honesty.

  12. November 20, 2009 at 02:51

    Henry is a good player and a non-cheating kind. Give the benefit of the doubt.
    A hand comes in with no intention but an auto-reaction. In the heat of the moment Henry didn’t do the ”Hero” — Report to Referee his unintentional handling of the ball.

    Now we take the case of ”Hand of God” of Maradona, the Argentine Captain, who whispered to his team mates to cover him before the Referee spots his devilish goal.

    There we have a ”cheat” where he had the audacity to tell the press the next day ”It was the Hand of God”.

    Do not judge a young player by his failure to report — not even the good Pele would have had the guts to report, if it had happened to him.

  13. November 20, 2009 at 02:58

    The whole trouble with money in sports is the long standing officials of all sports.

    We had the same problem in Olympics committee where the president a pittance but had luxury villas in five major cities.

    Selection of a city to host Olympic Games involves most officials being bribed with cash to places in Colleges and Universities for children.

    Considering the enormous amount money being generated, why not limit official’s terms to four years apiece.

    They will veto this idea, but sport lovers must act and insist on it.

  14. 15 T
    November 20, 2009 at 03:23

    They should stay out of it. Either that, or resign and work for FIFA.

  15. 16 scmehta
    November 20, 2009 at 08:00

    Blessed were the days, when we used to readily or voluntarily own up our faults or fouls. And gone are the days, when the competitors used to genuinely rejoice over a rightfully/honestly earned victory. These days, after the sports became professional or a business, and after the introduction of too much of high-tech equipment and media, it is noticeably dismaying, at most times, to find that natural sportsman-spirit to have been either terribly tarnished or altogether missing. The unethical and corrupt practices of the high-profile money-players or business people, who invest in the sports to have very high stakes in the forms of advertising/sponsoring/betting/match-fixing etc., have robbed the natural,noble and healthy spirit of sports of its very charm and humane-intent. More or less, all the professional sports have been given the dirty look/character of being only the money-spinners, controlled/ruled by mafias.

  16. 17 Carlos
    November 20, 2009 at 09:46

    Filthy French they never change

  17. 18 Nigel
    November 20, 2009 at 12:55

    There once was a time, not so long ago, that sportsmanship, gamesmanship, fair play and things like that were the objective of each sportsman. They were the final product and when combined together gave a person the name as a champoin sportsman or woman. Now these same qualities are still applied but with the single objective of making more money which has becoem the reason for doing well. As long as this is the case sportsmen are going to cheat, act and dress stupidly to raise their profiles and hence the amount of money they can make, both on and off the field.

  18. 19 Ibrahim in UK
    November 20, 2009 at 12:59

    If we were to replay every game where a referee made a mistake we would never see the end of it.
    The handball in this case was obvious and directly led to the goal. In other matches, the infringement might have occured several passes back and indirectly led to the goal. Who decides how far we go with this?
    In any case, there were 10 games prior to this match in Ireland’s group 8 qualifiers. In the game against Georgia, the referee awarded Ireland a non-existant penalty which they scored from and went on to win the game. I don’t remember hearing the Irish government calling for a replay in the spirit of sport. They put it down to “Good Luck”. Maybe they should put this defeat down to “Bad Luck”… or maybe Karma.

  19. November 20, 2009 at 13:07

    Salaam gang,
    It’s amazing that the Egypt-Algeria fuss wasn’t mentioned by you guys… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  20. 22 patti in cape coral
    November 20, 2009 at 13:54

    I’m not very sports-minded, but it seems to me there is no point in playing a game at all if you’re going to cheat. Using a hand in soccer does seem like an involuntary reflex, though, not really intentional, but it is still a violation of the rules.

  21. November 20, 2009 at 14:20

    I think in the U17 Finals, Nigeria scored a goal (the Swiss keeper took the ball across the line and brought it back out) which was not awarded!

  22. November 20, 2009 at 14:21

    If you ask me, forget about these guys in the pitch, lets play football at home, on the computer!

  23. 25 gary
    November 20, 2009 at 14:40

    I offer my condolences to the Irish, the French and to the teammates of M. Henry. The result was not a victory. At his level of competition such behaviors cannot be accidental. M. Henry should apologize to his teammates, the French, the Irish and to all youth involved in the sport. As to a replay, referees see what they see and like it or not; the outcome is the outcome. No matter, sport is performance art of mind and body; electronics have no place in it.

    • November 20, 2009 at 15:13

      @Gary et al,
      Like M. Henry said, he was not the referee, what would you have the poor guy do? Go tap the Referee and say ” Excuse me monsieur, I think I just touched the ball a lil bit with my hand; you might want to award a free kick!”?
      I thought it is to avoid such that we have one Referee equipped with cards and a whistle as well as 2 nos. of Linesmen equipped with brilliantly coloured flags? Henry was no different from all players who exaggerate a touch and take dives to attract penalties and free kicks as well as those who waste time with the ball …it is still football; perhaps not football at its best, but football anyway.
      To me, anything allowed by the 3 officials remain good football until otherwise decided at appeals.
      Go Henry, go! Just remember that the Referees in future might not be that blind!

  24. November 20, 2009 at 14:42

    Referees always make mistakes… Unless we introduce a review panel to watch each goal before it is awarded, or have a match review panel that have the power to change results, there is always going to be one unlucky team.

    Its not just football this happens in… ALL sports!

  25. 28 Ibrahim in UK
    November 20, 2009 at 15:06

    They use technology in Rugby (the video referee) and in Tennis (Hawk-eye). They should implement something similar in football with some rules to avoid exploitation. Allow the captain to challenge the referee’s decision twice in each match and refer it to a video referee who makes the final ruling. This not only resolves the issue of cheating, but also ends the ugly scenes of players ganging up on the referee trying to get him to change his mind.

  26. 29 Peter Gizzi UK
    November 20, 2009 at 15:13

    I hate football and sport in general. It can replace interesting documentaries I may want to watch but the reverse never occurs! Having said that I feel this incident demonstrates that high level “sport” such as this is simply a business. When such huge amounts of money are involved dishonesty must occur. How many matches are fixed? How many referees are bribed? How many presenters turn a blind eye? I ask similar questions about The Olympics mentioned above.

    Some years ago my local team made it to Wembley! For once I did listen to the match but a referee’s decision denied them the cup! Was he bribed? We’ll never know. That’s how the world works now, on corruption.

  27. November 20, 2009 at 15:27

    Thierry Henry using his hand to help his team score a goal is no fun as a game should payed in all fairness. There should be rules through which matches should be assessed after they have been played to make sure that the results are credible.

    It’s true it was the mistake of the referee who didn’t notice Thierry Henry using his hands, but at the same time one person’s mistake shouldn’t decide the fate of a team behind whom there is a whole nation. In all fairness, the match should be replayed to preserve the spirit of sport. If France refuses to do so it should be disqualified and the team behind it should go to South Africa. Can this happen, I am not totally sure.

  28. 31 steve
    November 20, 2009 at 15:29

    Government should not be involved with sports other than perhaps for safety regulations if the leagues themselves don’t do enough on their own. Government should Not be involved with whether a call was properly made or not made.

  29. 33 guykaks.nairobi
    November 20, 2009 at 15:30

    i see a compete waste of time and decision made was final..i think Henry himself did the primitive act to poverish our minds and football?

  30. 34 Brad
    November 20, 2009 at 17:12

    No replay, Henry will have to live with himself,

    I agree with Keane the Irish ignored basic rule of not to let the ball bounce in the 6 yard box I watched the game and they did not take their chances . This is part of the game and it has happened before in even worse circumstanses.

    I remenber 1976 qualifier Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti, if Trinidad and Tobago had won they would have gone to the Final way back then, I believe it was proven that the offcials were paid off , after two or three dissallowed goals that was obvious even with the naked eye that they were propoer goals. If a replay was needed it was then and I believe FIFA did ban the officials for life but the descision stood

    So the Irish need to get over it and ask them selves why they did not do better on the field that day they should have scored at least two goals. They need to stop whining and stop the pity party.

  31. November 20, 2009 at 18:14

    FIFA should punish Henry in some way, take him out of the next 4-5 FIFA games, if you will. But there can’t be a replay. In those 90 minutes, the referee is God on the field. If he says goal, it’s a goal. If he says otherwise, it’s otherwise. Even gods are flawed. And there might be also an investigation with the referee. But there can’t be a replay, as much I want justice to be served.

    Konstantin in Wolfsburg

  32. November 20, 2009 at 18:27

    I think too much is being made out of a small issue. I completely agree with the Irish coach. What was the goalie and defense doing? They allowed the ball to bounce freely in the 6 yard box at the feet of Thiery Henry.

  33. 37 themoi
    November 20, 2009 at 19:08

    It’s a game. Get a life and get over it. In 5 years nobody will care.

  34. 38 Tom D Ford
    November 20, 2009 at 19:17

    @ Ibrahim in UK
    November 20, 2009 at 15:06

    “They use technology in Rugby (the video referee) and in Tennis (Hawk-eye). They should implement something similar in football with some rules to avoid exploitation. …”

    I think you’ve got it right. That would restore credibility to the sport.

  35. 39 Frank Elliot Gittens
    November 20, 2009 at 19:24

    From my understanding of football human error is part of the game some even suggest contributes to the excitement of the sport. Everyone knows players dive in the box to try and get a free kick some even says this kind of strategy makes a good player. Some bash but some respect Maradonna’s hand of god cause he got away with it. I think moving on and a verbal apology is enough, France and Thierry Henry shmae is enough punishment…

  36. 40 Marpha
    November 20, 2009 at 19:41

    Leave Henry alone ! No replays. Change of rules. Fifa can adopt an American Football rules, where every coach can issue two chalanges per game. Referre must review plays and can cancel dsision on the field after seeing clear evidence on the video.

  37. 41 Jeff Richards
    November 20, 2009 at 19:42

    To replay every game where mistakes are made would be impossible. In Rugby Union teams can site other players for violent misconduct. How about siting Henry for intentionally handling the ball, have FIFA investigate, and if the accustion is found to be true, ban Henry for an appropriate number of games in the World Cup competition.

  38. 42 Gabriel oyedemi
    November 20, 2009 at 20:16

    The match cannot be replayed but i certainly dont think france is proud of the goal. Referees are human, liable to error and not omnipresent so FIFA should review their rules.Take heart ireland you will have your turn.

    Sent on a phone using T9space.com

  39. 43 Carlos
    November 20, 2009 at 21:20

    Video would be great for the game.
    Some years back I sent an email to a Fifa official.
    I thought it would be a good idea to have a panel review a game.
    If a player is seen to be diving , according to the panel.The club is fined and the player banned for three games….points deducted???
    The art /skill of diving has no place in the game, it has become a tactic used by many.

    The reviewing will slowly stamp out the unethical play.

    • 44 ben
      November 21, 2009 at 12:59

      Good idea.
      Not saying refs take bribes but it does put an extra level of officials in the loop.

      With all the money and bent games it needs this type of thing.

  40. 45 Tan Boon Tee
    November 21, 2009 at 03:58

    The spirits of sport have been badly tainted when money and status creep in a few decades ago with the onset of wide media publicity.

    Football, the world’s most popular and prestigious sport, is fast losing its original glamour. It has been over-commercialised, equating itself with real big money.

  41. 46 vijay pillai
    November 21, 2009 at 08:23

    Hand of god of Maradona of 1984 back again. If not recognised by the refree and allowed ,it was too late for anything. split second foulplay by geniuses at the threshold of goal happen without their knowldege or intentions. Let the result remain and is badluck it was not spotted not by others but by the refrees or linesmen, these people are slow to see and actone would guess.

  42. November 21, 2009 at 14:33

    Match-fixing takes many forms sometimes its the player or players at other times the referee or line staff and sometimes a crowd invasion of some sort can be arranged. In most cases its a combination of one or more of those factors. The trick is to have the brains to spot it which is why most are not identified worldwide.

  43. 48 Henry
    November 21, 2009 at 16:21

    I am Henry from Douala. I witness this match and I am felling very sorry for the Irish team. This is incident I prefer it had happened to the English team or the Chilian Team looking back in the early 90s when Cameroon was clearly prevented from reaching it dreams. nobody talked about it but now that it has happened to team from Europe many can talk. Looking on just grounds I believe a replay of this match will be very good for both for FIFA in particular. to me Henry has done well to have admitted the handball. They should be a moral pressure on all sports bodies. Technology should not be let out it play an important part in this game. I believe strongly that this must be the decision of FIFA to protect France from falling out of this 2010 world cup in South Africa.

  44. 49 Joe Kuan
    November 21, 2009 at 18:12

    Well, I personally think the Irish should let it go and leave it. Swallow the pain will make them stronger. Meanwhile, FIFA should start listening to other people and revise the rules.

    As to Henry, I don’t know what he should do or say. All I can say is the insight quotes from other famous people:

    Warren Buffer – It takes a life time to build a reputation, only takes 5 mins to ruin it.

    Robert Greene – So much depends on reputation – Guard it with your life

  45. 50 T
    November 22, 2009 at 00:44

    Tennis: Agassi uses drugs. Gets caught, lies. Gets away with it. And competes.
    Football: Thierry Henry hands a ball. Admits it. And nothing is done.

    What’s the connection between sport and Wall Street banks? Big businesses. And no accountabllity.

  46. 51 Asif
    November 22, 2009 at 10:46

    i think if in the game like cricket such decisions are made by third umpire then there should be a third umpire using technologies like camera and other stuff to make the match fair and unbiased.Players should have the access to third umpire to appeal and have fair decision.its unfair to steal the match where are the rules is foot ball played either by hook or crook or rules and regulation.

  47. 52 abdelkhalek laouane
    November 22, 2009 at 11:36

    if the game has been replayed, i just couldnt see anything than the french team wining the game, even if they played in neutral stadion..Irish people should be proud by now ,i know how they feel after that incidence, but this not the first time something unfair happened, life is cruel sometimes, unfair things happen daily..however for the future maybe it is not bad idea to claim like this, just please dont lose respect to the great Henry, i saw already some names with high profil (as Lineker, Contona..) comentating as if the great Henry is an cheater, they should realise that they just make it looks more unfair and unjust than it is by such coments.

  48. 53 ben
    November 24, 2009 at 11:54

    Fifa who are they.They dont run anything the people run things, trouble is we dont know it.

    They could stop the cheats , they could stop the diving, The game would be better for it what do they do……………nothing…..they have a meeting to chat about issues.hahahaha they are a joke.

    France you have dishonored the game.

    Once upon a time you were know as people with class.

    This isnt as bad as The Rainbow Warrior affair.

  49. December 15, 2009 at 00:21

    Absolutely terrible that they get away with this..


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