I am sure that you watched France v Ireland from Stade de France and read all the newspapers world wide on line and the comments from players, fans, the media, the coaches.
Well, look at www.fifa.com, which is a really good web site, and it doesn't mention Nicolas Anelka diving, just that he 'tumbled', and as for the two players offside and Thierry Henry handling the ball twice before William Gallas scored the vital goal-it doesn't mention any controversy at all!!! I had to commend FIFA and its referees committee for providing a strong referee team from Sweden headed by Martin Hansson, who was near perfect until the 13th minute of extra time. and also the other superb performance at the Algeria v Egypt match from the tall referee from Seychelles, Eddie Maille, a sort of Pierluigi Collina with hair !.
However the Swede and his team failed to spot both the off side and the two hands of God and we have a situation where a very ordinary French team goes to South Africa, and an ordinary Irish team that played out of their skin, but stay at home on the Emerald Isle. It just isn't FAIR. The terrible thing is that most players who commented on the situation afterwards said that they would have done the same thing and not owned up. You wouldn't see this in cricket or in rugby where FAIR PLAY is taken more seriously. Henry admitted that he did handle the ball, or in his opinion the ball struck his hand twice in quick succession. TALK ABOUT THE MAGIC BULLET THEORY AT DEALEY PLAZA!
Within milliseconds it was shown on TV from all angles and even President Sarkozy on his raised cushion on the front row of the VIP suite and 81,000 spectators could see it clearly. The FA of Ireland today wrote to F.F.F. the French Federation, asking for a replay. QUITE RIGHT TOO!! but good luck bohys!!
A few days before I was at a splendid SPORTING WORDS lecture at Leeds Carnegie Stadium with Graham Poll, the man who gave 3 yellow cards at FIFA GERMANY 2006 and went home early instead of getting the prize Final. More on this in my next blog, but shouldn't the Swede have asked Henry if he handled the ball? The normally calm Shay Given gave him reason to do so chasing him down the field. A couple of months ago I was at a EUROPA LEAGUE match in the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Hertha vs Ventspils of Latvia, with SIX Irishmen on a few days holiday on UEFA expenses when they introduced the two goal line assistants. I THNK they may still be there, sampling the delights of the Ku'dam and its sexy clubs, a far cry from home in tranquil Kerry. I don't blame them at all !
IS THE MATTER now settled, because the referee's decision is final? This is 2009 with referee teams in constant touch over their headphones, all from the same country and same language and English mandatory for all. They do match after match together as a team and instant play back is now available. Thierry Henry is now group together with the dreadful Maradona and his Hand of God goal v England at FIFA World Cup 1986 quarter-final in Mexico.
I was really glad to see Algeria beat the Pharoahs in the deciding match at Al Merraki Stadium in Omburdman outside Khartoum, Sudan. The fans of the Desert Foxes had to fly over 2.500 km in short notice while their opponents could drive over the common border. It was the mother of all battles after such recent and fairly recent history between the two teams. Antal Yahia scored the goal in front of a packed stadium and 15,000 police. The Algerian bus had been stoned on the way to the stadium in the 2nd leg in Cairo and 3 players slightly injured and the whole team obviously rattled.. They were 'only' losing 1-0, which was enough to see them through, until 6 minutes of added time by the South African referee and Egypt scored a 2nd goal and forced a third match.
Today FIFA promised sanctions against the FA of Egypt, but the 6 time African champions won't be going to this World Cup where they have had little success in the really big world tournament.