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Critics should lay off Thierry Henry

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Chris Jardine | 11:37 UK time, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Hi everyone, I hope you are all well.

I have to say that, as I'm about to turn 31, the last two games haven't been kind to the old legs. With the weather we've been having recently the pitches have been really heavy and I've been waking up on the Sunday with aches in places I never knew existed.

If I'm feeling like that, goodness only knows how Derek Townsley felt after his 90 minutes against Albion Rovers!

Well, there has only really been one person dominating the front and back pages of every newspaper up and down the country since last Wednesday - I give you Thierry Henry.

France captain Thierry Henry's controversial handball against the Republic of IrelandThere have been a lot of things written in the past week and Henry has taken a lot of flak - a lot of it unjustified as far as I'm concerned.

I honestly can't believe the furore this incident has caused. We've had demands for the game to be replayed and even Damien Duff blaming Adidas.

I think the officials have got away with this big-time as well. Without doubt, Henry is the main culprit but this was a massive decision - and a completely obvious handball (twice) - and neither the referee nor assistant were in a position to call it correctly.

It was a shocking decision to allow the goal to stand. I really do feel for Ireland and their supporters but I genuinely believe that anyone else in Henry's position would have done exactly the same thing.

As far as I'm concerned, it was complete instinct. It doesn't make it right but it was a natural reaction and any one of us would have reacted in the same way.

I'm not sure anyone actually believed that Ireland would get the opportunity of replaying the game. Whether that's down to believing Platini and Blatter really were high-fiving each other at the result I don't know.

But let's just say it was replayed, where would things stop then? There are incidents going on all over the park in games every week where players try to gain advantages over their opposition and there are decisions potentially costing clubs points because of this. We'd have clubs contacting their respective associations every other week.

What I can see happening from this incident is the five officials per game being rapidly introduced to reduce the risk of it happening again.

Platini has already trialled the idea in the Europa League and, let's face it, had there been an official behind each goal in Paris that night, Ireland might have been heading for penalties.

Personally, I'm not one for tinkering too much with our game - players are already barely allowed to tackle these days and it's not only my partner, Laura, that doesn't know what offside actually is anymore. But if it meant major mistakes costing clubs and countries then, for me, video technology might be the way to go.

It's done in other sports so why not football too? I was watching Murray v Federer on Tuesday night and it's exciting waiting for the decision on the big screen and the fans get right up for it as well.

There is a lot of thinking to be done and I'm sure the subject or something similar will be on the agenda when the men running our game meet two days before the World Cup draw.

I'd just like to finish this week by congratulating our under-19s on their first victory of the season. The young team faced the long trip to Elgin on Sunday and came away with a superb 4-1 victory.

It's been a long time coming and hopefully the hard work of coaches Buff, Ronnie and Jimmy is finally paying off. I'm sure there have been times of enormous frustration but they are a team who were quickly put together for the debut season in the SFL, pretty much like the first team, and everyone involved deserves credit for their efforts.

I trained with the boys a couple of weeks ago and not only was the training superb but there was a committed bunch of young players there and you could tell they were enjoying things, even though results weren't going there way. That's testament to the guys helping the kids and I hope they can really kick on from their win at Elgin.

See you next week.


  • Comment number 1.

    Chris, where should the referee and linesman be positioned? Surely as a pro you of all people should know this? The referee needs to be in a position to observe the free kick getting played into the box, make sure the wall doesn't move and be able to observe the penalty box. So how was his positioning wrong? The incident happened so quickly by the touchline after the ball had traveled over every player. How can the referee possibly see THROUGH all those players? Does he have x-ray vision? Or are you suggessting for every free kick the referee stands on the goal line?

    The linesman - ok he missed an offside, but that was very touch and go. We see mistakes like that every week and whilst its annoying, its not the end of the World. I dont think the Irish would have been up in arms if that was the only issue. Anyway, back to what the linesman could do. He was on the FAR side of the pitch. I know there were at least 2 players in between himself and the ball - Gallas and the Irish defender just behind him. There's also half a chance Given was obstructing his view. So once again how can the linesman see THROUGH players? Where should he be positioned? He has to be in line with the last defender as best he possibly can, and the last defender was level with 2 French players, so how can he see the handball?? You can't blame the officials, its about time the cheating professionals stopped cheating!!!! The buck stops with Henry.

    And yes the first handball can be put down to instinct, i will even say this is possible. But the SECOND??? Do me a favour. The guy is a cheat and i think you set a bad example by condoning Henry's behaviour and saying every player would do it, and criticising the referee. I genuinely can't believe you are saying you would deliberately cheat like Henry to win. I think you need to re-evaluate your morals mate! This wasn't going down too easily under a challenge, this was something that really brought the game into disrepute.

    There is a difference between demanding this game be replayed or a league game be replayed. These poor guys may NEVER get a chance to play in another WC and if they do its minimum 4 years to wait. Even if a goal relegates you, within a year you can get promoted. You get another stab at it.

  • Comment number 2.

    You guys should cut the guy some slack. He did not deny the fact that he handled the ball. I am not condoning Henry in any way, but truth be told as Chris has quite rightly said, most if not all football players, be they professional or Sunday league, would have done the very same thing. The Irish should get over themselves and shut up!! Did not see any Irish, or for that matter British juorno complain when the ref awarded a dubious pen to the Irish team in their game against Georgia. This sort of thing happens all the time....Get with with it!!

  • Comment number 3.

    Rubbish!! How can you possibly claim that "most if not all" players would have done the same thing!?! If that were true, then how come we don't see it happening all of the time in the Premiership or the Champions League? I've seen plenty of players in similar positions lunging out with feet/legs/knees/bodies in an attempt to keep the ball in play and sometimes they get it, sometimes they don't. I don't see them all using their hands. I couldn't care less about the result, but to claim that everyone else would do the same in that position is just plainly untrue and dozens of matches elsewhere just go to prove it's not true.

    I'll say again - for the record - I've got no feelings about the result and am not even all that bothered about Henry cheating, but the core theme of this article is absolute rubbish.

  • Comment number 4.

    Say what you will... obviously you watch cricket, not football

  • Comment number 5.

    No - I hate cricket. But if you like people catching the ball then maybe you should try it.

  • Comment number 6.

    Yeah, we all know Henry was naughty but in my opinion the ref should definitely take the blame for not seeing the handball. He should have been behind the players or nearer the goal line. There was no need to check the wall, the kick was miles away and was never going to be a direct shot and the lino "should" be covering things on his side of the pitch, so the ref should have made sure he could see things going on round the back door.

    Anyway, I agree with the author, if you think you could get away with it to win you and your country the chance to play in your last ever world cup then of course you'd do the same.

    FIFA if they're serious about stopping this sort of thing need to set proper punishments and guidelines about what they will do upon review of retroactive video evidence ... Then people may think twice about trying to cheat if they know they'd get rumbled and banned as a result.

  • Comment number 7.

    Henry cheated. Fact. Nobody's denying this, least of all TH14 himself.

    However, as has been stated by many people, he's hardly the first person to "cheat" in a match to try and gain an advantage - or have I missed all the instances where a player's gotten away with a foul and told the ref what he's done, or has dived and won a penalty, but 'fessed up to it, etc?

    It goes on all the time. It's not right and it needs to stop, but the way it's being reported you think that he was the only person who'd ever done such a thing - well in a way he was, because he did it and then owned up to it.

    Furthermore, peopel saying that this should be treated differently because it's a world cup qualifier are somewhat blinkered. There should be no difference between how a standard league game and a game of this magnitude are handled. I'm well aware that it's of more importance (in some ways) but that shouldn't change the decision that's made.

    It's a shame the Irish had to go out like this, but sometimes in football these things happen. They shouldn't, but they do. I'm sure that many of the Irish team themselves have been far from angelic when it comes to their exploits on the football pitch, so until they become football saints or fess up to every one of their past misdemeanours, i can't really take their tortured pleas seriously.

    Ps. Didn't a couple of the Irish players say that they'd do the same thing, if they were in Henry's position?

  • Comment number 8.

    Thierry Henry admitted to the Handball but Shay Given did not admit grabbing Anelka ankle which the replay clearly show he did to prevent a certain goal but that is not repeadly shown. Its all a very unbalanced reaction and reporting.

  • Comment number 9.

    Players obviously cheat regularly and I agree that the officials need to take a lot of the blame, but to run with the title "Critics should lay off Thierry Henry" is ridiculous. I understand why he did it and he's got his reward, but I don't see why he shouldn't face heavy criticism, because whichever way you look at it, it's cheating. The diving, shirt pulling etc that goes unpunished in the game is obviously something FIFA needs to deal with, but does that really mean that people shouldn't criticise the players for doing it?

  • Comment number 10.

    Maybe I should put it this way - I have no problem with Thierry Henry and what he did. My problem is with Chris Jardine and this article.

  • Comment number 11.

    It was cheating, but if Henry had been brought down in the box with a blatant foul near the end, but the ref didn't see it, everyone would just think "unlucky" and move on. He'll have had many more harsh decisions against him than for him in his career I'm sure!

    The other thing was that while players were bemoaning it, they were generally saying they'd have done the same i.e. it's only an issue when it's done to your team - football is full of hypocrisy like that, and often that's what makes a game exciting.

  • Comment number 12.

    I absolutely agree, but does that mean that - as this article argues - people shouldn't be critical of it?

  • Comment number 13.

    I like many football supporters the other night watched "the match", nothing unusual about that fact. The difference being that I watched the match in France, where I live with the French supporters and I’m English.

    When this incident happened with “Thierrygate” Henry keeping the ball in play during extra time the mood changed after they celebrated the to the realization that it was handball, to shock! They were happy that France won obviously, but as I discussed with the locals they agreed that this was very bad for the game as he must have known that there are so many cameras in the ground that it would have been picked up later. Would this have been different if it had happened to England instead of France, in the English pub?

    What is this telling our children. It’s hard enough coaching as it is without this happening. It will happen again until the TV replay system is brought into play. Rugby & cricket to mention two sports use it and football at the moment has a bizarre fact that my mum can watch a replay of the incident with seconds but the referee who makes the decision knows nothing about it.

    There was a quote saying “Don’t blame Henry”. Don’t make me laugh, who’s fault is it then?

    Both sets of fans, clubs, teams, players, management want the correct decisions at the end of the day so use the technology.

  • Comment number 14.

    Rather than lay off Thierry Henry, maybe they should stop focusing on him so much and instead talk about ALL cheating in football and how it needs to be eradicated - you see examples of it, week in/week out but when was the last time, someone diving to win a penalty or whatever got this kind of coverage?

    With some reports, you'd think he was the biggest (only?) cheat in all history and it seems very OTT.

    He's not the first. He definitely won't be the last.

  • Comment number 15.

    Yes, for me it's not about Thierry Henry or whether this time it was a Frenchman or an Argentinian or an Irishman. For me it's about the game and all this cheating is ruining it. I'm sick of all this falling down and wingeing and running to the ref to tell him to card someone. And all the rule changes that have been made in the last forty years have only been to stop the goalie running with the ball or to totally cock-up the offside law until nobody understands it anymore. I say deal out more cards for simulation, an yes, give a card for simulation even if the player was fouled, give him a card for exaggeration, that is ungentlemanly conduct too!
    Let's enable retroactive punishment based on video evidence if the ref missed something. We can't replay every game where there has been a mistake, but if a player commited a foul that the ref missed, let him know that all the cameras are not there just to record his stupid goal celebrations or the name of his son on his t-shirt, they're going to be used against him as well. Let's stamp out the cheats, until the "instinctive reaction" is to play by the rules.

  • Comment number 16.

    Can they give him a retrospective red card for the handball and a 3 match competitive match ban

  • Comment number 17.

    Nijagooner - if most players would do this given the chance, then why dont they? This opportunity to handle the ball arises in every game so why isnt it happening all the time? It happens once in a blue moon. The last truly famous incident was Maradona - that was 23 years ago and people still talk about the little cheat. What Henry did was no different. So how come he's not a cheat? Is Maradona also not a cheat? Tripe.

    #6 you are crazy! How can the ref be near the goal line? Seriously, learn something about the game and a referees job. The position of the ref has to be where he is most likely to see the majority of incidents. This was a freak occurrence, where 99.9% of the time a ball played that drops in the 6 yard box would have been headed clear before it bounced. So should the ref stand on the goal line for the 0.01% of times this may happen and just be badly positioned for the other 99.9%??? It wasn't the officials fault missing the hand ball as you cannot 100% of the time see every minute thing that happens in a game of football.

    Any player who says they would do the same is a fool. It says cheating is right and if you have the chance to do it then you should. BBC should not be letting their football writers publish such things. Cheating is an ugly side of the game and something we are trying to stamp out, yet professionals are championing it saying it doesnt matter as long as you win! Its a joke.

    No Henry isnt the first to cheat and he wont be the last. I think people are more miffed by the manner in which it happened - not least the fact he ran off to celebrate like he was proud of it. Kevin Doyle said maybe he would have done the handball and not owned up, but the realisation of knowing every fan in the World would see your crime would soon hit home and you would skulk back to the halfway line, not run off like a hero!!! With issues like diving there is more debate as sometimes there is the slightest of touches - like with Eduardo so how can you prove they cheated? With Henry he handballed it TWICE, thats pretty stonewall.

    A few years back Raul was banned form the Champions League for a few days for pulling such a stunt against Leeds. The same should happen to Henry. FIFA use video evidence to ban players for a head butt for example of a punch, so why not for cheating? Its happened before. But im sure Platini wont allow the French captain to be banned for say 3 matches at the start of the WC.

  • Comment number 18.

    Chris, I was at the Fulham v Roma game a few weeks back and saw first hand the complete eneptitude of the 5th/6th officials. You may recall that Roma were awarded a penalty after Kelly had tumbled one of their players. Okay,it was a penalty, however, after the ref consulted with the 5th or 6th official (not sure which was which), he sent off Hagaland based on the advice given. Now the last time I saw Hangeland he was some 5 or 6 inches taller than Kelly,and it wasn't until the Fulham players put pressure on the ref and Kelly admitted it was he that tripped up the player, did the ref changed his mind. To me you could have 20 officials and they still would not get it right. They also get in the way of the supporters behind each goal line!

  • Comment number 19.

    I've got six things to say on the matter:-







  • Comment number 20.

    Hasn't the blog now changed its name from "I would have done the same as Thierry Henry" or something to that manner?

    And havent Jardines words changed too? Before he said he would do the same, now this has been edited out?

    Whats going on? Post one thing then sneakily retract it?

    He wrote the words, so why doesnt he stick by them or at least come on to explain them? Explanations please!!!!

  • Comment number 21.

    I agree with Jardie. Why is this incident getting so much attention when week after week, game after game players go down without being touched to try to gain an advantage. If I was playing for Scotland in a game where a win would take my country to a WORLD CUP and it went to extra time I cant say that I would not do exactly what Henry did and unless any of you were in that situation I don't think you should be pulling the moral high ground. I think Chris' point is don't make Henry the scapegoat for every player in the game who's "cheated" before. He is still a quality player and in my opinion it's far less of an attempt to decieve as a genuine instinctive reaction.

    Oh and to clear up the offside thing its when the last player..... no the last attacker is beyond the eh.... hold on.... erm

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    Chris! This is shameful. There is no possible reason to condone cheating. What cut the slack. He s not paid for it in any way so WHAT ARE YOU ON ABOUT???????????????

    I am a surgeon. Imagine what would happen if I cheated.????

    So you speak for all the professional footballers and they feel like cheating is ok? In my school we had a schoolground saying " Cheaters will never prosper". Apparently we were wrong. We should re write the rules. Maybe breaking a guys teeth is ok if it will floor him and I can get a goal eh? After all, we d have all done the same thing. snowdon maybe... I can offfer you the Himalayas... it s in my backyard.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hi Chris et al
    "What I can see happening from this incident is the five officials per game being rapidly introduced to reduce the risk of it happening again."

    I was begninning to think the two extras behind the goal was having no impact and werent benefting the game. Perhaos the point is that in most games they wont make a difference. But when they do it will be for key decisions and so very much agree with you.

    P.S. My scottish side is Stirling Albion ... as went to Big School there ... it would have been Stenhousemuir but couldnt find it on a map!!! :-)

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    Glad to finally a journalist on BBC who lives in the real world... Lay off Henry... Robbie would have done the same thing and i remember him doing it to us in a North London Derby back at Highbury in the 05/06 season. All our players stopped playing because one of our players were down injured and expected Spurs to put the ball out of play. But they continued playing and Robbie scored a goal. The reaction then was that it's up to the referee... So Lay off my Boy!!!!

  • Comment number 27.

    I think that Henry has shown his true sportsmanship by taking everything on the chin and saying sorry. At the end of the day he is human and we all make mistakes and i could not really see Ireland doing that good in the world cup. Ireland are just bad losers

  • Comment number 28.

    I dont believe all this I am hearing about instinct. How come defenders arent handballing evey game when the ball goes right past them, Its only when they make that split second decision to handle the ball kidding themselves they can get away with it is when it happens.

    Henry only said what he said as he knew 100& that it would not result in a chance of a replay, he would be more worried about the country he plays for than the one he plays against.

    That said I dont blame Henry too much, I do think he is one of the most self centered people i have heard but he still a great player and has generally been a fair one, everyones allowed the odd slip. He is nowhere near as low as say Maradonna.

    The Irish, well being born and spent a good while there I remember when Maradonna scored with his hand, the celebration there was unbelievable, funny how its so quickly forgotten.

    Technology needs to be implemented. I look at FIFA, UEFA & FA and they are just absolutely useless, people running are outdated, backscratchers who treat, ultimately their customers seeing as football is a business, with utter contempt.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    Just incase anyone is interested the Annan score at the weekend was 0-0 at Albion Rovers

  • Comment number 31. should really lay off on the man. He's being treated so unfairly by you guys...the media. Chris Jardine, say it was just insting,anybody would've done the same. Thierry Henry,is a world class player,and he dosen't deserve this. Its so unfortunate to happened to a nicer man like Henry. Let the guy breath,plz. Thanks

  • Comment number 32.

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    Hi chris , would just like to say your an absolute legend to me, your up there with big steve claridge :). The way he wears that pink lippy on the championship really gets me in the mood for a right big feast of action (footballing action that is)anyway enough about him. Watched a few of your games and i must say your doin pretty well for a team just coming up from the scottish no division haha. Also id wondered if i you would be kind enough to send me a pair of your skidded on briefs, ive asked big stevo for a signed stick of his magic lippy but hes not got back to me yet sadly :(. Good luck for the next match big boy, your a star ;)

  • Comment number 35.

    Deats80 - after reading your comment and watching the incident again you are correct and I maybe was harsh on the officials. I do think the referee's positioning could possibly have been better, perhaps in a wider position but it is still unlikely he would have seen the incident. I don't understand why you're suggesting I want the referee on the goal line however...

    As for me setting a bad example - you are entitled to your opinion but I hope you realise that I'm not saying I would intentionally go out on the park to cheat? My whole issue with the Henry incident is that Henry acted instinctively and nothing will change my opinion on that.

    With your last point regarding replaying the game - are you suggesting that we can possibly alter the rules of our game to suit certain matches?

  • Comment number 36.

    David Rowlands - I appreciate your comments and am disappointed you have a problem with this particular part of my blog - I hope it won't stop you from reading in the future.

  • Comment number 37.

    Deats80 - I feel you're misunderstanding what I've said in my blog. In no way am I condoning what Henry did and in no way am I saying cheating doesn't matter as long as you win.

  • Comment number 38.

    Sid Potter - I've not actually seen the incident you're referring to but I agree that the extra officials isn't the way to go. It's obviously being used in the Europa League but in the longer term it's got to be video technology.

  • Comment number 39.

    Deats80 - to answer your question, since I sent my blog last Wednesday I haven't altered it in anyway. I have no editorial power to do so.


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