Thierry Henry: Shame the only sanction

Henry espaces FIFA sanctions due to hypocritical Fair Play Code

So I was wrong last month but not surprised that FIFA’s disciplinary committee had concluded yesterday there was “no legal foundation” for the Henry’s blatant cheating vs Ireland in November.  The decision further displays Blatter and his cronies excercise in the art of hypocrisy with its  feather-weight Fair Play code being completed ignored.  Golden Rule 1 of the FIFA Fair Play 10 commandments states: “Fair play always has its reward, even when the game is lost. Playing fair earns respect, while cheating only brings shame.  Remember: it is only a game. And games are pointless unless played fairly.” This is supposed to be the cornerstone of FIFA’s ethics code on which the game is shaped.  Obviously the boys in Zürich really don’t believe in their own mandate and in this case feel Henry’s shame is seemingly punishment enough.  Non of this makes any difference to the Irish team I am sure, but there are those that would have liked to  have seen at least some justice prevail after refusal of a rematch or granted entrance to South Africa as team 33.

I was never a huge fan of the idea of video technology, but after this incident I think it would help solve a lot of future controversy.  It would serve two major functions, 1. take pressure off the match officials without them losing too much autonomy 2. fundamentally help prevent football’s governing body picking and choosing who it decides to sanction in such ad-hoc fashion and hiding behind gray technical regulations when it suits.

My Name is actually Hypocrisy



Filed under Thierry Henry

4 responses to “Thierry Henry: Shame the only sanction

  1. Paul

    Nice blog Michael. I’m enjoying these of late.

    Might I add a third major function? What about seeing that the teams get what they deserve? Forget about reducing the man in black’s blood pressure or the red tape at FIFA. Justice itself should be enough incentive to introduce video technology. Alright, the game might not flow as much, but the actual stoppages would be few and far between. How many goal-line clearances or penalty box hand-balls do we see in an average match? In fact, if those players who routinely dive\feign injury were to clean up their acts due to such technology, the game might actually flow all the better.

    And as for the idea that referees being fallible (f*cking up) is part of the game… well, so was passing back to the keeper, short shorts and institutionalized violence. Do we want to return to those dark days?

    But if you accept that justice is the greatest incentive Michael, you will have to come out and admit that a certain goal allowed by a certain Russian linesman in 1966 should not have been permitted to have skewered the outcome of one World Cup Final. Can you do that? Can you hold your hands up and admit that England’s sole major tournament success is as valid as Maradonna’s Hand of God?

    • Paul – legendary response. Thank you, kindly!

      It seems FIFA don’t seem to be too interested in ‘justice’ – especially while Blatter is at the helm.

      As a ref I would welcome all the help I could get. Also, I agree that stoppages due to appeals should be few and far between as not stop the flow of the game too much. Maybe introduce a system like in cricket where each team has 3 appeals per match? However, then problems may arise after all three appeals are used up in that some players see it as cue to start diving and/or acting like they’ve been shot by the sniper in row z. They’ll know all appeals on the opposing team have been used up and that the on field officials won’t get every decision right. Where would you draw the line in terms of appeals? If they are limitless per game, the advantage is, as you so rightly point out, that players would think twice about their on-field conduct knowing big brother is watching their every move with the possibility of facing immediate sanctions for something the on-field officials didn’t catch. The disadvantage however is that you might have a team that goes appeal crazy wishing to manipulate every opportunity to disrupt the game. I’m thinking in particular of games with 20 mins left and a team is 1-0 up. This tactic is already bad enough without further opportunity to time waste and break-up play. It’s all food for thought.

      Now to the big question 🙂 It is still hard to judge whether the ball crossed the line in “66 and I’m sure that video technology would have helped back then and perhaps changed the outcome of the game. I cannot deny that. But to compare it to Maradonna’s Hand of God (or Henry’s handball goal) is about as similar as chalk and cheese. It’s hard to line-up blatant cheating with a shot at goal from the underside of the crossbar. I think on this point you let your lack of fondness for the England national team cloud your usual balanced and sensible line of thought 🙂

      Thanks again for the response and reading my waffling.

  2. Paul Smith

    You’re quite right about my judgement being clouded. The debate surrounding Henry’s handball was a little fevered and many English pundits drew parallels with Maradona’s cheeky knock whilst completely failing to acknowledge the other times such a lack of technology have benefited their side. I felt it to be a little hypocritical at the time. But I did get a little carried away. I had no intention of mentioning that when I started writing. I just came over all Scottish for a minute! :-\

    Personally, I’m with Roy Keane. Until the rules change, suck it up. As for England’s third goal in 1966 being debatable, the rules quite clearly state that the ball must be 100% over the line to count as a goal. It’s not a debate, as this link proves:

    By the way, in this sports media watching medium, why haven’t we heard anything about the passing of one of the most skillful and gifted mediators of any sport?

    • Thanks for response again, Paul. You’re a legend my son.

      As for the “66 final and the third England goal, not 100% over the line. Agreed. As I said before, if technology had been around to help out, then yes, I think the outcome of the game would have been different. We would have won by one goal instead of two! A lack of technology did help us out on this occassion.

      Maradonna’s and Henry’s actions have drawn many parallels as the were so similar in nature, plus the knock-on effects of each action have been massive. Again though, nobody should try to draw similarities to a player making a genuine effort at goal (i.e. England’s 3rd goal in “66) to a player blatantly cheating (Maradonna and Henry). Yes ok, the one thing that binds these three controversial events together is that there was no eye in the sky technology employed to help out the match officials to have a second peep, that’s all. To be clear, two occasions of clear cheating, one occasion of a player shooting at goal (legally). Kettles of fish that should be kept a few oceans apart me thinks.

      Thank again for posting. This weekend I will be working on my first vlog. So you’ll see my ugly ‘boat race’ talking on about lord knows what.



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