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