Hand of Henry goal makes strong case for video evidence
France’s decisive goal against Ireland in their World Cup play-off will only add further weight to the case for using a video ref, or extra goal-line officials, at least in the biggest matches.
The controversial extra-time strike from William Gallas took France through to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, while leaving the Irish barely able to contain a sense of frustration and injustice.
It was goal which should not have stood, as TV pictures made plain. French captain Thierry Henry clearly handled the ball, not once, but twice before crossing for Gallas to score from close range.
Once again, fans are wondering how a mistake of such magnitude, in such a high-stakes game, could be allowed to happen.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA chief Michel Platini both disagree with the use of video referees but their case would have been a hard one to make in front of Irish fans on Wednesday. Soccer’s top officials say a video referee will only slow down the game. True enough, but would it not be better to stop the game and get the right decision rather than continue and see a faulty decision stand?
Platini, for his part, has managed to push through the idea of an extra official behind both goals with an eye on spotting such infringements. Currently the idea is being piloted in UEFA’s second-tier Europa League, but it may now be time to take the brave decision to introduce this across the board.
If we see another “Hand of God” moment in South Africa, perhaps one that decides the final, will football’s reputation survive it?
TO: France’s team captain Thierry Henry reacts in their World Cup qualifying playoff return leg match against Ireland at the Stade de France stadium in Saint Denis near Paris November 18, 2009. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier