Should France Soccer Team go to next year’s Soccer World Cup in South Africa?

France captain and striker, Thierry Henry's handled assist broke Irish hearts in Paris on Wednesday night, denying Giovanni Trapattoni's team a spot in World Cup 2010.

Thierry Henry, admitted accidently fouling with a handball. This allowed France to advance to the final round of the tournament with a 2-1 win over Ireland. Henry touched the ball with his hand twice before passing it on to defender William Gallas who scored the fateful goal against Ireland at the Stade de France outside Paris.

The referee did not see the foul and honored the goal, despite protests by Irish players.

Henry, a well liked player with a previously pristine reputation, admitted his mistake. “Yes, there is a handball but I’m not the referee” he told reporters after the match, adding “I was behind two Irish defenders, the ball bounced and touched my hand. Of course, I continued to play. The referee did not blow his whistle for the handball, but I can’t say that there was no handball”.

Irish players were outraged following their loss. “This is a shame! It is totally ridiculous that the referee and his assistants did not see Henry’s handball. It’s so obvious. It’s disgusting,” Ireland’s goal keeper Shay Given told reporters. “I am very disappointed by what Henry has done. He is a cheater. For me, he has tarnished his image forever,” he added.

On internet websites many criticized Henry’s integrity. “Henry must be heavily sanctioned, this man is disrespectful towards everyone” Meze wrote on, France’s #1 sports newspaper. “What a lack of fair play. This is shameful. I am extremely disappointed by Henry” Etienne06 wrote on the same website. “I think Henry will never be able to play an international match without getting booed. His career is over” matteo_ddp wrote. “I’m ashamed to be French” added grego61.

Henry later apologised, “I’m not the referee… but if I hurt someone I’m sorry” he Twittered a few hours ago.

Despite the outrage there were supporters backing the French team. “There is a handball, but it is in our favor! Good!” wrote kimausoleil. “What is shameful is not Henry’s handball, it is the fact that the referee did not blow his whistle” Boubou74 wrote.

This latest episode reopens the debate on the use of video to help referees do their job and avoid mistakes. Soccer’s governing bodies have been against the use of video in soccer matches. They argue that all soccer rules should be the same at both the amateur and professional levels. Another suggestion up for debate is the use of assistant referees behind each goal. The Union of European Football Associations started testing this solution recently.

The most famous case of overlooked foul play in a soccer match is former Argentine player Maradona’s “hand of god” goal in the 1986 World Cup quarter final against England. Following the unpenalized handball Argentina advanced in the tournament and won the World Cup that year.

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