Thursday, 19 November 2009
Luck of the Irish?
Thierry Henry should be embarrassed today.
But he should he feeling much worse than that. He should be facing a ban from world football.
Half the world now know the French football team qualified for the World Cup last night courtesy of Mr Henry's left hand, which controlled a football twice – notice the not-so-subtle contradiction there – with intent, only to pass the ball to a French teammate to score a goal which denied Ireland a potential place at the World Cup.
Why is it that cheating in other sports – such as match-fixing in cricket, snooker and tennis, all of which have been reported recently – or taking banned substances in athletics - all land the offender with a sporting ban as well as well-deserved hammering in the media as a ‘villain’ and ‘enemy of the game’, yet we have people rushing to Mr Henry’s defence on radio phone-ins and such like claiming on behalf of all us that ‘we would all do the same thing’ in that situation. Like that excuses it.
Some others are even saying the Irish have only themselves to blame for not taking their chances. What part of 1-1 in extra time don’t they understand? Ireland might well have won on penalties – Shay Given has been touted by many for years as the best shot-stopper in the English Premier League, the self-proclaimed best league in the world.
Well, Ireland would have stood a pretty good chance of going through on penalties then, wouldn't they?
I tell you what Trappatoni should have done.
Some years ago, Sheffield United went to Highbury for a cup match against Arsenal. An Arsenal player went to ground injured and one of the Sheffield United players kicked the ball out of play to enable him to get treatment.
Now, to the uninformed on these matters, in football, there is what’s best described as a “gentleman’s agreement” that, if an opponent kicks the ball out of play for an one of your players to get treatment, you return the ball back to your opponent, you know, to say ‘thanks guys’.
Arsenal didn’t kick it back afterwards. They threw the ball to one of their players from the throw-in, ran up the pitch and scored.
What did the manager of Sheffield United, then Steve Bruce, do? Ordered his players off the pitch immediately and refused to play on.
If only Trappatoni had done the same.
“Right boys, that’s enough. We don’t play against cheats. Off you come. Sorry Mr Fourth Official, we’re not playing on.” What a scene that would have created.
And guess what it got Mr Bruce and Sheffield United? A replay.
And guess what happened to Arsenal? They were widely acclaimed in the media for their sense of fair play and upholding the so-called integrity of the game.
FIFA should do the same here and give Ireland a replay.
The beautiful game is not looking too beautiful from where I sit today.
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