I know, it seems implausible to see Thierry Henry’s name in the same sentence as the word “victim” but that’s what the French striker could well be as FIFA look into punishing him for his handball against Ireland. FIFA President Sepp Blatter has already revealed that FIFA will look into what Henry did and he could be punished by having to miss the beginning of the World Cup – which could yet prove all of the competition for France given recent performances. Whilst there is no doubt that Henry did cheat it seems astonishing to see that he could be punished for it seven months later, this is something that has rarely occurred in football – if ever.
The fact is, regardless of whether you’re livid over Henry or not, footballers cheat all the time and sometimes they get away with it and sometimes they don’t. I can’t remember how many times John Terry has got away with handballing the ball in his own area and not given away a penalty but FIFA hasn’t sanctioned him afterwards. Or how about the dives that change games? They’ve not then had those goals rescinded or players disciplined for their actions. The fact that football hasn’t implemented video technology suggests that it has faith in a referee’s ability to judge the situation – if he fails to punish something then it should go without punishing unless the incident is really bad. And, whilst match changing, Henry’s handball is not a life threatening issue and the kind of cheating that occurs constantly in professional football.
The reason FIFA have announced their intention to look into Henry’s cheating and possibly punish him is obvious – the media storm following his double-handball has still not died down and, although there’s no way FIFA will let the play-off between Ireland and France be replayed, FIFA are trying to calm the situation at Henry’s expense. The media had more than enough influence as it was, having driven managers away from clubs among other crimes but why should they have the right to affect Henry’s world cup hopes for a bit of cheating he did in one game much like any other player would’ve done in his position? Get over it already, so Ireland won’t be going to the World Cup – it’s not like that’s a completely new idea, is it?
I don’t condone what Henry has done, obviously cheating’s regular role in football is not an admirable one, but I think it’s insane to suggest that this future punishment could be incurred on him. Blatter, if you’re so intent on punishing cheating then why don’t you go look back on every incident that’s occurred in the modern game and punish everyone who’s handballed or got away with a foul or dive? Of course that’s not going to happen, the media aren’t baying for blood about the majority of cheaters. Do Ireland not remember when they played Georgia in the qualifying campaign and were given a penalty for no reason when Robbie Keane wasn’t even touched? Are the media going to complain about that and say that the match changing moment got Ireland to the play-offs in the first place and that shouldn’t have been the case? Of course they’re not, partly because Robbie Keane isn’t a slimy Frenchman and also because the Georgians aren’t going to waste time complaining for week upon week after the incident went against them.
Yes Thierry Henry cheated. Yes it cost Ireland a place in the World Cup finals – though they probably would’ve lost to the French on penalties anyway. But FIFA should not be changing their ways just to shut the media up – the media should not have that sort of power. Unfortunately they appear to and if Henry does get punished then it won’t be the victory for football that it would be proclaimed as, it would simply be a victory for media pressure and could lead to the world press making a nuisance of themselves even more in future. I have three words for those still complaining and demanding Henry does get a big punishment for his handball: Get over it!