Wed Nov 18, 2009 11:34 pm EST The Hand of Henry: Handball sends France to World Cup
By Chris Chase
Three years ago, France may have lost the World Cup because of a head. Wednesday, the French national team qualified for the 2010 World Cup because of a hand.
The late William Gallas goal, which gave France a 2-1 aggregate victory in its two-game playoff with Ireland, came off a blatant handball by star Thierry Henry. With the Irish fighting to clear the ball deep on their side, Henry batted the ball down with his left hand, darted a quick pass to Gallas, who then headed the ball in for the decisive goal.
The handball instantly drew comparisons to Diego Maradona's infamous "Hand of God" goal in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinals, but so does every uncalled handball which turns into a score. That goal put Argentina in the semifinal of the tournament, this one merely put France in the 32-team field.
Referee Martin Hansson dismissed the immediate pleas from the Irish side, some of which may also have been about the possible offsides violation that came before the handball. The missed call delighted Parisians, but was a devastating blow to Irish soccer fans who were hoping to see their team qualify for just the fourth World Cup in national history. Had Henry not scored, the playoff would have been decided by penalty kicks.
As expected, the Irish side is demanding that something, anything, happen to rectify the situation. Some have called upon FIFA to replay the game (which isn't unprecedented in FIFA history), though Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni admits that such a redo would be "impossible". He took the pragmatic approach and said that he hopes this error will lead to video replay in FIFA. That's better than the Irish justice minister who said that letting France take the victory reinforces the notion that cheaters win. (Isn't the old adage, "cheaters never prosper?")
Trapattoni is right. The missed call stinks, but there's nothing anyone can or should do about it now, other than take measures to make future missed calls less likely. The technology is there, so add replay or add another official on the field.
After the game, French coach Raymond Domenech was reticent to discuss the controversial goal, saying that he hadn't seen a replay and just knew that the ref gave the goal. Henry, on the other hand, readily admitted his blatant penalty:
"Yes, I handled the ball but I'm not the referee."
That's better than Maradona who, to this day, still won't admit to punching in the goal in 1986. The Hand of Henry: Handball sends France to World Cup - Y! Sports Blogs - Yahoo! Sports