Thursday, November 19, 2009

Let's Talk About That Handball

If you haven't heard about it, Thierry Henry settled a free kick with his hand that led to the deciding goal to send France through to the South Africa at the expense of Ireland. The referee was apparently screened from seeing the infraction, but Henry admits he did it deliberately.

So, the question becomes, what does FIFA do about it?

Well, the right thing to do would be to suspend Henry for a game and replay the match before the World Cup draw on December 4th. The one game suspension may sound harsh, but with such a high profile case, it would send a message that cheating in soccer is not tolerated. Let's assume France wins the replay (big assumption, I know), Henry would only miss the replay. However, if you know anything about FIFA, you know that they will completely ignore this incident for two reasons.

1. FIFA has no backbone. Did they do anything about the 1986 Maradona "Hand of God" goal, even though it occurred in the actual World Cup? No.
2. FIFA would prefer France in the World Cup. France is a team filled with superstars. France will sell far more tickets than Ireland.

So, let's assume FIFA does nothing about this incident. What to do to prevent the missing of similar calls in the future? Some would say add another ref or two either on the field or as a "goal judge" who only calls fouls in the box. This would definitely help, but there would still be missed calls.

Others suggest instant replay for all goals. I think this is a great idea. I suggest having a replay official in a booth who is charged with taking one minute to review all goals from available data from TV cameras to decide if foul play led to the goal. It usually takes more than a minute for the referee to restart the game from a goal anyway due to the players celebrating and grabbing water, etc. Use this time to review the goal and signal the ref to indicate that goal was illegal.

If FIFA were to implement this and the goal line technologies available, disputed goals would be all but eliminated.

Anyone have any other ideas?


  1. Arsene Wenger to head FIFA, the only man I know who VOLUNTARILY replayed a match determined by unsporting incident. See Feb. 1999 FA Cup vs. Sheffield Utd. Ryan, I know you already know this, so this for the other people who...nevermind.

  2. So, as expected, FIFA denied the FAI's request to replay the match.

  3. Also, as expected, Arsene Wenger is calling for a reply despite FIFA's defiance.

  4. I personally think (coming from an organizer of soccer events perspective) that the referees ruling should be final. I can understand not wanting to open that can of worms. I do think inserting a review process would be beneficial.