Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Ireland's rescue bid laughed off... so ban Thierry. It's the only answer

TOMORROW justice may finally catch up with Thierry Henry. Sepp Blatter will address an emergency meeting of the FIFA committee in Cape Town, just two days before the World Cup draw, and ask they what sanction should be handed to France's record scorer after his deliberate handball enabled them to qualify for South Africa next year at the expense of the Republic of Ireland.
Sadly, Blatter will not offer a replay or a 33rd place in the finals to the aggrieved Irish. As I said on Sky News with Eamonn Holmes this morning, meaningful justice will never be done. Blatter laughed when he talked of Ireland's plea for an extra place, which left assistant boss Liam Brady fuming over the treatment of his unfashionable footballing nation. And despite that 486,000-strong petition for a replay on Facebook - which I also talked about on television this morning - all that is likely to happen is that FIFA will agree to two extra officials behind either goal in an attempt to improve "match control".
If we accept France are now unavoidably through - and I hope they will be roundly booed, Kevin Pietersen style, whenever the play in South Africa - then Henry must be punished.
After the match he admitted to deliberate handball, which is a red card offence. Now FIFA must review the incident on video and punish him like any other cheat who is caught in the act. Henry, France's record scorer with 51 goals, must miss at least the first two matches of the World Cup next year.
Former Liverpool manager Gerrard Houllier launched an impassioned defence of Henry this morning, probably hoping to ease concerns before tomorrow's FIFA gathering in Cape Town.
The 62-year-old, now technical director at the French football federation, said: "A lot of the former players in France have condemned what Thierry has done but, at the same time, they said they would have done the same. He didn't cross the ball with his hand. It's the referee's error. I'm not saying he did something right but he did something that sometimes, when you play football, you do to help you but you expect the referee to punish you.
"Thierry is too honest a person to have done this immorally. It was not premeditated. I don't think he'll be punished and even if the goal had not been allowed, they would not have qualified. It would have gone to penalties."
I used to have a certain respect for Houllier, who suffered a life-threatening aortic condition while he was in charge at Anfield. Those mealie-mouthed words do him no credit.
Ban Henry. If there's to be no replay, it's the least FIFA can do.


  1. Blatter really needs to step down and a big shake-up at Fifa also, ireland dont get to the world cup every 4yrs like france and others and i'll count myself lucky if i ever will see ireland at a world cup final in my life time the way were getting seeded also (pot3 in the euro qualifiers drop 2 World ranking points 38 from 36??) how?
    He dont like UK/irish football and its progression and that will all come clear when England dnt get the 2018 World Cup,probably giving it to a swiss/french joint bid.
    Hope he has horrid time in SA blatter and with abit of luck U'll get jack'd up.

  2. Let Ireland replace Algeria. Those people are going mad, burning down their cities despite winning. Ireland will be doing them a favour.

  3. France aren't seeded in Pot 1, so England could get them in qualifying when the draw is made tomorrow. That would be a way of proving the point! Mind you, we could get Algeria too!