The hard luck of the Irish
It will come as scant consolation to Ireland, their backroom staff, their players and their massive support (which probably now includes the whole known world outside the borders of France), that maybe this latest travesty could be the death knell to all those who believe that ‘honest’ mistakes are part and parcel of the game. If ever there was a defining moment in the game of football then perhaps it is now.
The way Thierry Henry was allowed to pull off a full on Basketball move to keep the ball in play in order to assist the all to crucial winning goal in last night’s World Cup Play-Off just beggars belief. The Barcelona man has come out and admitted to his wrongdoing but then followed up this confession by stating “I will be honest it was a handball but I’m not the referee.” which only tells part of the story and helpfully is designed to allay all blame from his experienced shoulders on to the officials who appeared to be the only people in the entire stadium to not spot the fairly clear cut offence.
Some will tell you that to bring in the addition of a televised adjudication of some sort will ruin the game and could well slow the game down but I will guarantee that the large portion of those in that particular myopic group will have changed their tune. For it would have taken a fourth official, and what the hell else does he have to do for 90 minutes, to look at the monitor which is helpfully placed aside him, and just communicate with the referee, which he already does do on most cases, via the earpiece and headphones that they already don. On this particular occasion it would have taken the official less time to make his decision than it did the French players to ‘pretend’ to celebrate wildly whilst all the while knowing all to well that they had just cheated the Irish out of a place in the World Cup Finals, a place that they deserved so much more than the Raymond Domenech’s stuttering side who had bungled their original qualification attempt whilst Giovanni Trapattoni had faultleslly guided his side unbeaten through their arguably more difficult campaign.
Perhaps the level of officiating has worsened or perhaps they are under more scrutiny than at any other time in the game’s history but it does appear that contentions decisions are being made on such a regular basis that it would be foolish to continue with the present course any longer. FIFA and UEFA are often cited as organizations that fail to act swiftly, indeed if they act at all, but even they must be questioning the wisdom of not moving forwards with progress and preventing such acts of devastating levels.
We are constantly told about the need for their to be a spirit of fair play in the game but how about installing a system, a simple one, that makes the game itself fair. A system that takes the heat off the man in the middle and adds another dimension to the game, a dimension of ultimate fairness and equality.