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Thursday, November 19, 2009

France-Ireland -- World Cup Qualifier Travesty

Lest you might have thought that anything to do with the Olympics and planning for it was among the most questionable, if not corrupt, activities in the world, now we have last night's World Cup qualifier between France and Ireland, played in France. I'm in France now, and I've had the benefit of hearing the French reaction to the "Hand of Henry" goal that propelled France to a tie in the match and a berth in the 2010 World Cup.

Irish star Robbie Keane scored in the thirty-third minute, and for a good part of the game the Irish really took it to France. In extra time (for Americans, that means time added to a half to allow for the time that the clock ran but play did not continue because of an injury), the ball made its way toward the goal Ireland was defending. French captain, former Arsenal and current Barcelona striker Thierry Henry guided it with his hand toward another player. The referee should have stopped play and called it a "hand ball." Sometimes, if the touching is viewed as obvious and deliberate, a player can get a yellow card (the equivalent to a technical foul in basketball; get two yellow cards and you get a red card, an automatic ejection and a suspension from the next game). Play would have stopped, and Ireland would have had a free kick.

Instead, the Irish are crying foul in their beer. Apparently the French media are not being kind to their own Les Bleus, as a colleague told me that commentators on the air and in print are saying that France won because it cheated. Naturally, there's speculation that since no one involved with the World Cup could imagine one without France. . . well, you fill in the blank. That's a tough allegation, and, as American baseball fans learned, in the post-season this past season otherwise well-regarded umpires missed some obvious calls (including two in a row in a World Series game by umpire Brian Gorman, who called a double play that wasn't against the Yankees and then called Chase Utley out at first when he clearly was safe).

This is a pretty awful spectacle, and if you can find a replay you'll see how obvious a missed call this was and confirm that it was at the worst time of the game. Which leads to a suggestion. . .

Why don't they have instant replay on all goals in games like this? That doesn't mean I'm suggesting that they do so in every league match everywhere, but in championship matches, tournament matches, deciding World Cup qualifiers, why don't the powers that be take some pressure off the officials and guarantee some more quality in the officiating. Akin to a "booth review" in the last 2 minutes of a National Football League game, a review of any goal should be automatic. If this were the case, the referee would head to a booth on the field and converse with officials up in the press box. They would review a replay of the goal, and the referee clearly would have seen the hand ball. And then he would have made the right call.

Instead, at best human error cost the Irish a World Cup berth (my guess is that there are several World Cup officials who would contend that had the Irish played better throughout the qualifying, their fate wouldn't have come down to this goal in this game, so that they shouldn't make such a big deal about this goal). The Irish fans are angry and frustrated, and the French fans are sighing a sigh of relief.

But both Les Bleus and the French fans know that the French didn't deserve that goal, that tie or a berth in the World Cup.

As does the rest of the soccer world.

The accident has happened, so now it's time for the World Cup officials to put up better traffic signs in the form of instant replay. The reason is clear -- the integrity of the game is at stake.


Anonymous netightman said...

FIFA should give Ireland a re-match.

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Term Papers said...

It’s a great post Man, you really are a good writer!

2:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Henry should have been a man about it and stepped up. Instead he is a coward and he will live with the guilt of being a cheater for the rest of his life. Unless he has been that way his whole life? by cheating his way into the world cup, he stole an opportunity from others. And he took the game out of soccer.

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Generic Viagra said...

I always trust in the abilities of the star Robbie Keane scored, the facts are on the table, you see he can score even lacking a few seconds to finish the game Buy Viagra Cheap Viagra.

5:05 PM  

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