Thursday, 19 November 2009

Replay? Justice? It's not going to happen

SO the Irish, like most other right-minded football fans, want a replay. They feel Thierry Henry's blatant handball - understandable but unforgivable - robbed them of their place at the World Cup finals in South Africa next year.
As of now, the Republic of Ireland are out, beaten 2-1 in extra-time thanks to Henry's basketball-style move just wide of the right upright which resulted in a cross to make William Gallas's decisive header.
Henry can be clearly seen explaining afterwards that he had cheated as he sat with distraught Irishman Richard Dunne. He hasn't gone quite that far since, simply admitting: "I did handle the ball, but I am not the referee."
And as the clamour for justice mounts, the Republic's charming Italian manager Giovanni Trapattoni insists: "This situation has to give a chance to who is responsible to rethink. It can be repeated in the future and we have to stop it."
But he accepts: "When a referee decides a game has finished I know it is impossible to replay the game."
Even the Swedish press have blasted their trio of officials for failing to spot the greatest handball since Diego Maradona circa 1986. Aftonbladet said: "There are approximately 80 million Irishmen around the world. We guarantee they all feel pretty bad today.
"But I sincerely hope there are three Swedes that feel even worse.
"They are Martin Hansson and (referee's assistants) Stefan Wittberg and Fredrik Nilsson. There will be no World Cup for Ireland and I assume that Team Hansson has also forfeited its right to continue to take charge of major international matches.
"Anything else would be a further insult to the Irish nation."
A replay might ease the pressure on the three Swedes too, but Fifa have already released a statement saying: "The hand ball was recognised by the Fifa commissioner, the referee observer and the match officials, as well as by the player himself.
"There is precedent for the invalidation of such results. In 2005, the bureau of the Fifa World Cup organising committee reached a decision to invalidate the result of a World Cup qualification match between Uzbekistan and Bahrain on the basis of a 'technical error by the referee of the match'.
"But Law 5 of the Laws of the Game states that: The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final.
"The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee or the fourth official, provided that he has not restarted play or terminated the match."
So that's it. No replay unless you're Uzbeki or Bahraini.
The FAI hit back with a terse: "We hope Fifa and its disciplinary committee will, on behalf of football fans world-wide, act in a similar fashion so that the standards of fair play and integrity can be protected."
Trapattoni questioned their competence of the Swedish trio and still wants to know why Fifa seeded the play-off draw at late notice, making things, theoretically, easier for the French (at this point most people would mention UEFA president Michel Platini hails from just across the channel, but that would be very provocative), though they made heavy weather of it.
Trapattoni's final verdict: "All sports lose credibility with this situation - it affects the integrity of the game. For me it's bitter. There are many questions.
"There are many doubts that have to be eliminated. Out of the non-seeded teams we were the only ones to play the second game away - why?"
La Figaro quotes Henry saying this: "I know what it is you want me to say and I am not going to lie - there was hand.
"The ball hit my hand and I continued to play. The referee didn't blow his whistle and there was a goal. Obviously I would have preferred that things panned out differently but I am not the official. I do not think we have stolen qualification."
Sorry Thierry, you're wrong. In the digital age, which so much at stake, either you get banned for cheating... or the match gets replayed.
But we all know neither will happen. France are through, it's what the big guys wanted.

1 comment:

  1. very well said. just what the rich guys in fifa wanted.