Nov 192009

One thing about not blogging for a week is you can sit back and watch the hysterical reactions going on in the world of football without feeling like you have to dive in and add your voice. It has been one of those weeks.

First we had the curse of the international break rear its ugly head again, in the form of injuries to Van Persie and Gibbs. The timing of the former is painful because he was on such a hot streak, and with important games coming up it helps to have the players likely to strike fear into the opponents. For the latter, it is also a blow, but for different reasons – with Clichy out, Gibbs had a great chance to stake his claim for a regular first team spot. Ask Fabianski how a mistimed injury can drop you down the pecking order.

But in both cases, panic spread like wildfire, only for subsequent reports to confirm that the injuries were not as bad as initially feared. Which, frankly, made some of the outlandish statements made in the interim seem all the more foolhardy. As soon as the Dutchman collapsed on the turf, our season was being written off, a bizarre conclusion given how many goalscorers we have. As it turns out, Gibbs might be fit in just over a week, with Van Persie returning just after Christmas. It isn’t ideal, but it isn’t a crisis either.

If you were to make me select positions to lose players to injury, I’d plump for strikers and left backs, as we have the cover. Just wrap Gallas and Vermaelen up in cotton wool and we’ll be fine.

And then we have the internationals. Fans and the media do like to get overboard from time to time, don’t they? We had Eduardo, and now we have ‘Handball-Gate’, the inevitable title of last night’s incident. For those who don’t know, you must be living under a rock, but essentially Henry instinctively (perhaps) handled the ball, crossed for Gallas, who scored to put France into the World Cup.

And that’s about it. Was it a clear handball? Yes. Was it deliberate? That depends largely on whether you consider instinct to be the same thing. Should the goal have stood? Absolutely not.

But it was one of a million incidents that referees and linesmen miss. Yes, somehow, this has got the footballing public into such a flurry that we have fans calling in to Sky to get the match replayed, and beyond that, Kevin Kilbane and Liam Brady are demanding the match to be null and void.

Some go even further – one caller on Sky Sports was comparing Henry’s actions with the business world, where fraud can land you in jail. Has the world gone mad? Even the Irish Justice Minister waded in:

“They probably won’t grant it as we are minnows in world football but let’s put them on the spot. Otherwise, if that result remains, it reinforces the view that if you cheat, you will win.”

Kilbane said:

“Well, I’d like to think it would be replayed and I think everyone in the squad would like it replayed.”

What possible grounds are there for replaying the game? Imagine the precedent – suddenly every team that loses to a goal that shouldn’t have stood because of a handball or a foul could demand the same. Or to take it further, maybe a result is canned because a throw in was awarded the wrong way, leading to the winning goal. After all, the argument here is that Henry deliberately cheated – is appealing for a throw you know isn’t yours any different?

It is beyond ridiculous. Yes, it is a harsh way to go out, but it is hardly new. I remember South Korea knocking Italy out in 2002 thanks to a series of horrendous refereeing decisions. Australia lost to Italy in 2006 to a penalty that wasn’t. Did anyone demand a replay then? Of course not.

Get a fucking grip.

Disclaimer – please don’t think this is an anti-Irish rant. Strangely enough, most of the hysterical reactions have come from the English media and English fans. Most Irish I’ve seen mention the incident are understandably pissed off but at the same time accept that’s how football is sometimes. Check out an excellent post by Arseblogger (who is Irish) for evidence of rationality.

  9 Responses to “Injuries and handballs – the footballing world needs to get a grip”

  1. yes, like he said GET A FUCKING GRIP. you dont change the rules just because you were on the losing side!! how many teams have been ‘robbed’? was there much outcry? NO! if ireland did it against france or any other team? PROBABLY NOT! why would you remove the spec in anothers eye before removing the log in your own? c’mon now! it is very unfortunate for ireland but france IS through, regardless of liam bradys and co. reactions!

  2. Wow a refreshing view for once other than the usual “lets jump the bandwagon” view and am not even French or Irish. AS said above GETa F$£ING GRIP

  3. I want the 2001 FA Cup Final to be null and void so we can replay it as Henchoz deliberately handled on the line to stop us going 2-0 up and going on to win the cup.

  4. I think it’s easy for people to go overboard when the see others doing the same, which is why I think Sky Sports have a lot to answer for. They are reporting nothing else.

    I feel for Ireland, and was gutted to see them lose (not least because the seeding decision made me instantly want France and Portugal to go out), but football is cruel, and we have to move on.

  5. Why don’t you enlgish twats and your sensationalist meida p*** off. This our problem not yours and we don’t like you turning it into a bullshit story about Henry, we have no problem with henry we believe the ref and fifa are at fault.
    Yes it happens and yes people will moan about it, that is our right we were cheated out of the world cup, your media is still crying about maradonna, you don’t see us telling you to shut up about that. You even use Henry’s mistake to draw comaprisons with marradona, in some vain attempt to tell us you know how we feel.
    You don’t, maradonna scored a goal with his hand and you from then on saw him as the enemy, that’s an english reaction. Henry handles the ball that leads to a goal and we want an explanation from the ref and fifa. Only irish man u fans are blaming him(but they’re scum no matter what the nationality), everyone else wants to know what the referee was smoking. Why the play offs were seeded in the first place and why the big decisions went france’s way. Henry could have held his hands up an said to the ref it wasn’t a goal(think nobody has? one word Arshavin), why do we not have extra refs like europa league for such big matches? Why is there no video ref? Because it would break up the game? Have you ever timed how long it takes a game to restart after an incident like that? the average is two minutes, it would take less time to review it on video, you’d have no protests from players and no controversy.

    Keep your ignorant, idiotic opinions about the irish need to get a grip to yourselves, until you can talk about argentina without bringing up the hand of god goal.

  6. @ bongo: fair comment.

    For me though, whatever the outcome or argument, Henry blatantly cheated, and that makes me feel sad. It’s not a great advertisement for the game of football, is it?

  7. bongo, I think you misread my article if you think I’m saying the Irish should quit moaning.

    I wasn’t telling the Irish to get a grip, quite the contrary (read the final paragraph).

    I was telling the English media to get a grip. From the contact I’ve had, the Irish have been perfectly rational about the whole situation, while the English papers have gone insane.

  8. Hi Pete, it wasn’t really a reaction to your article per se more the comments afterward and I felt the need to vent.
    Just seems that the English media especially sky news have taken this matter to extremes, like we’re some kind of special needs little brother that needs them to defend us against bullies.
    It annoys the hell out of me because it detracts from the real issue, instead of leading calls on FIFA to introduce measures to safe guard fair play in big matches like this they’re trying to vilify Henry.
    They’re making it so FIFA can worm their way out of it again and do nothing, just blame Henry, tarnish his career and call it part of the game so they don’t have to get up off their fat asses and make the changes every fan, player and coach wants them to make.

  9. bongo, I agree entirely.

    Sky Sports Justice is unfortunately a very real thing. It seems if they push hard enough, action is taken. I really wouldn’t be surprised to see Henry pick up a ban of a match or two, which would be horribly inconsistent.

    As for FIFA, they simply don’t want to tackle the big issues. And don’t get me started on Platini’s five referees…

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.