Henry’s hand­ball: more froth on story than you’ll find on a pint of Guin­ness

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

THERE’S a bril­liant se­ries of kids’ books about the ad­ven­tures of the “awe­somely naughty” Hor­rid Henry.

The next in­stal­ment will be called Hor­rid Henry’s Hand­ball, in which the an­ti­hero steals a World Cup place from the in­no­cent Ir­ish.

Ten days on and there’s still more froth on this story than you’ll find on a pint of Guin­ness. I don’t of­ten agree with Fifa’s Sep­tic Blad­der but in this in­stance he is dead right. There could never be a re­play.

Let me es­tab­lish my cre­den­tials in this de­bate.

I think the French are in­her­ently amoral and I’ve never for­given them for blow­ing up the Green­peace ship Rain­bow War­rior in Auck­land har­bour.

As a Spurs sup­porter I loathe Thierry Henry be­cause he gave L’Arse tro­phies and style – I reckon his nick­name Titi sounds just about right.

And I carry a la­tent jeal­ousy about French men be­cause of their abil­ity to be sex­ist, lazy and un­shaven and some­how pass it off as se­duc­tive Gal­lic charm. How could the de­lec­ta­ble Andie MacDow­ell sleep with the shabby Ger­ard Depar­dieu in Green Card?

If I looked like Depar­dieu she wouldn’t open the front door to me, let alone the bed­room one. Just be­cause he’s bloody French he scores like William Gal­las ul­ti­mately did af­ter Henry’s hand­ball.

On the other hand I love Ire- land and would have wel­comed a flood of Ir­ish sup­port­ers rol­lick­ing through Cape Town’s pubs in June singing The Fields of Athenry.

In spite of all that healthy prej­u­dice I know there’s no tra­di­tion or re­quire­ment in soc­cer at any level to own up to an il­le­gal­ity. I have never seen it hap­pen. Nor, for that mat­ter, have I seen a rugby player con­fess to a knock-on or not hav­ing grounded a try.

Cricket has some highly se­lec­tive self-polic­ing on edges, grassed catches and run-out re­calls but gen­er­ally you ruth­lessly take what the um­pire gives you.

Through­out the game in Paris both sides ap­pealed for ev­ery throw-in or cor­ner even when they knew they had the last touch and Ir­ish striker Rob­bie Keane at­tempted a sur­rep­ti­tious hand­ball him­self.

None of that is ad­mirable or de­sir­able but it is the way it is, and al­ways has been.

As for the cas­ti­ga­tion of the ref and his as­sis­tant, re­plays show their lines of sight were ob­structed and it’s a golden rule of ref­er­ee­ing that you don’t blow what you didn’t see.

Their er­ror was un­for­tu­nate but for­giv­able – un­like the pre­pos­ter­ous de­ci­sion to dis­al­low Eleazar Rodgers’s equal­is­ing header for San­tos against Chiefs last week­end. The of­fi­cials had a clear view of the ball cross­ing the line and then be­ing han­dled back into play – and the sub­se­quent rul­ing of a drop-ball de­fies be­lief.

But even that game must not be re­played.

If a ref­er­ee­ing er­ror, how­ever egre­gious, al­lows for such things, then Manch­ester United will never lose.

Ac­cord­ing to Alex Fer­gu­son they’re only ever beaten be­cause of a (take your pick from the ran­dom wheel of Fergie in­sults) un­fit, in­com­pe­tent, blind, bi­ased, in­tim­i­dated or cheat­ing of­fi­cial.

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