NaBloPoMo 2009 Day 19 — Irish Eyes Are Crying
The World Cup is in South Africa next summer (well, it’ll be summer in the northern hemisphere anyway). On Wednesday, the last major group of teams qualified for the tournament. One match that has received a considerable amount of attention is the match between France and Ireland. It was actually the second match between the nations. They played two games, and the first one was in Ireland. The French won that match on Saturday 1-0. In Wednesday’s match in Paris, the Irish captain, Robbie Keane, put his squad up 1-0. In the world of international football (i.e., soccer), that meant that the teams were tied 1-1 on aggregate with both teams having an away goal. At the end of the full 90 minutes, the teams went to overtime.
Overtime in these matches is two 15-minute halves, and they are not sudden death. Just before the end of the first half of overtime, France scored a goal to tie the match 1-1 (and go up 2-1 on aggregate). But as you can see in the clip below, Thierry Henry, the France captain yesterday, handled the ball — twice — before he passed it to William Gallas to head in from about 2 feet away. Anyone who’s ever played soccer knows that only the goalkeeper can touch the ball with his hands.
Everyone on the Irish team saw the handball. The Irish coach saw the handball. Henry admitted after the match that he handled the ball. But somehow, the referee and the linesman missed the whole thing. From the replay, it does look like the ref was shielded by the Irish defender covering Henry, but the linesman looks to have a clear view of Henry from the other side of the field. I’m not an advocate of the conspiracy theories running around, but it is very odd.
There are many in Ireland and around the world calling for a replay of the match to make it fair, but even if you take away Gallas’s goal, the score was 1-1, and there was another half of overtime to go. France could’ve scored in the second half. A tied result at the end of overtime would’ve led to penalty kicks to decide the winner. I’ll take France at home in any such shoot-out. It’s an unfortunate end to the match, but it’s not the first time a handball has played a huge part of an important international match — Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal comes to mind from the 1986 World Cup. Perhaps the Irish fans shouldn’t have enjoyed that Argentina victory over England so much. (Soccer karma perhaps?)