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December 1/09
by KB
"I am not a cheat and never have been. It was an instinctive reaction to a ball that was coming extremely fast in a crowded penalty area.... Naturally, I feel embarrassed at the way that we won and feel extremely sorry for the Irish who definitely deserve to be in South Africa."

Thierry Henry wished he never touched that ball. Yes, his handball (he touched the ball twice to be able to pass it to his teammate) helped to tie the game against Ireland in World Cup qualifying.

Thierry was quick to admit his wrong-doing and in soccer circles, players would admit they had done the same to tie the game, if they were in his position and situation.
Everybody saw it on televisions across the world, and while most understand his deed, France is not a very much appreciated guest in Africa. Ireland, rightfully demanded a replay of the game, France offered to comply, but the powers that be, FIFA, denied that request. The fact is: the officials, who regulated the game in question, NEVER saw the incident. Therefore, FIFA rules explain: If the referee does not see it, it does not exist.
I like to think that Mr. Henry sincerely wishes he never touched the ball in that instant. Video replays of that particular attacking sequence not only revealed his wrongdoing, but also other important scenes that lead up to the questionable goal. Split seconds before the incident, the ball, arguably, was received in an offside position. Had the play been whistled down then, Henry would have never handled the ball. The video replay also shows the linesman in a perfect position to raise the flag, which he never did.

The fact is that FIFA had a mess to deal with and kindly swept it under the carpet.
The fact is that the Irish know their team was kicked out by Henry's cheating.
The fact is that the French know their team did not qualify the proper way.

Obviously, Thierry made a mistake, but the ignorance of the official(s) begs for some explaining. The incident remains a stain on the image of soccer.
How can we explain a controversy of such magnitude to our young players? The '"ole model'" Henry admitted his wrongdoing. What did FIFA do?
It might as well be hiding behind a 'laws of the game' rule book. What has been learned since Maradona's "hand of God" goal? Not much, it seems.

One thing is for sure, the human aspect of error, in victory or defeat, is much alive in soccer. Could it be that this is what makes soccer so different from other sports? Perhaps the human aspect is not a bad thing?
You can watch the attacking sequence and listen to the commentators in the video below.