Friday, November 20, 2009

Hand of Henry

I've been very colour co-ordinated today. Currently, I'm wearing brown cord pants, brown tan shoes and a coffee brown T-shirt. The remarkable thing is that I dress in the dark, so most days I don't know what I've got on until I step out of my bedroom and into the light of the hallway. The fact that I managed to put on clothes of all the same hue today is a remarkable coincidence, and one that I'm not going to question. 

When things go well like that, it's best not to look too carefully into it. 

You could say the same thing about Henry's handball and France's qualification to the World Cup final. Understandably, Ireland are distraught. It was a remarkable bit of cheating. Ireland have even demanded that the match be replayed. France, on the other hand, have a guilty little smirk on their face and are busy trying not to look at the video replay. C'est la vie, and all that. 

The revelation that Henry is a cheat is supposed to pose something of a moral dilemma for Arsenal fans. Can we still love Henry now that we know he's just another dirty foreign cheater who steals World Cup places from hard-working, plucky, salt-of-the-earth teams from the British Isles? After reading a variety of blogs about this issue,  the common consensus seems to be: 

1) Henry's still a legend and one handball doesn't change his status
2) Henry was wrong, and Arsenal fans don't condone cheating
3) Ireland can't complain because all footballers cheat
4) Ireland had chances to finish off the tie, so they can't complain 
5) Isn't Robbie Keane a total cunt?

There's nothing wrong with these points. However, I think the more pertinent question is why do we think Henry should be faultless? Aside from his footballing skills, Henry is a man like any other. He wants to compete in one last World Cup, and is desperate to go to South Africa. So when the opportunity came along, he handballed to win. It's not an attractive quality, but it's a perfectly human quality. 

The thing is that these things happen. Footballers cheat. Referees miss handballs. Wrongdoers can succeed. Unless someone does something sensible about it, like introduce video replays, there's not a lot you can say about it. Footballers are going to handball balls into the net if they think they're going to get away with it. It's unfortunate that Henry did it to Ireland in a very important game, but it's a bit like me pulling out clothes at random and ending up with a colour co-ordinated outfit. 

It was just dumb luck. 

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