FIFA may impose World Cup ban on Thierry Henry

French striker Thierry Henry could miss the start of the World Cup if the FIFA disciplinary panel decides that his handball in the build-up to France's winning goal against Ireland in Paris last Wednesday night constituted "unsporting behaviour".

The Telegraph quoted a FIFA spokesman, as saying that Henry could yet face punishment should the commission, which will meet at some stage in the next two weeks, chooses to study the incident.

Now France is headed to the 2010 World Cup
and Ireland is headed to the pub to rant about it for time immemorial. Check out the controversial play, below:

Henry, who has called for the game to be replayed, has admitted he handled the ball before crossing for William Gallas to score, but he is likely to be punished only if it is thought he deliberately cheated.

"The disciplinary commission is an independent organ. It will decide if the case is of interest. The possibility exists of sanctioning a player for unsporting behaviour on the basis of video evidence," the FIFA spokesman said.

Irish journalist Geraldine Comiskey, who works Sunday World Irish newspaper, poses next to the poster of French football player Thierry Henry outside FC Barcelona's Joan Gamper Sports Center near Barcelona on November 20, 2009. France captain Thierry Henry said today that 'the fairest solution' to the row surrounding his handball in the World Cup playoff against Ireland would be to replay the match. He renewed his admission that he had controlled the ball with his hand, but insisted it was 'instinctive' in the heat of the action.

UPDATE:24 NOV 2009

Fifa to discuss Thierry Henry's handball but not a replay

It is understood that Fifa, having already ruled out replaying the second leg of the match at the Stade de France that saw France qualify at Ireland's expense, will not reconsider doing so at its meeting. The Football Association of Ireland reacted pointedly to the announcement, confirming "that it heard about this meeting today through Fifa's press release".

Henry says he considered retirement from the international game after feeling "truly alone" and "abandoned" by the France Football Federation in the wake of his controversial "Hand of God" assist in the play-off against Ireland.

The Barcelona striker, like so many of his fellow Frenchmen, has been engaged in soul-searching since last Wednesday's flashpoint, when replays showed him to have handled twice before he spirited the ball across to William Gallas, who scored the goal that secured France's place at the finals in South Africa next summer.

Henry chose to celebrate with Gallas and the rest of his team-mates rather than own up immediately to the infringement, a reaction that he has come to regret. France's record goalscorer has spent the time since the incident desperately trying to make amends.

He commiserated with Ireland's devastated players on the pitch at full-time and on Friday he said Ireland ought to get the replay they had demanded. By then, however, Fifa had confirmed that there could be no replay. Henry fears his reputation will be forever tainted by the events at Stade de France.

France Does Not Deserve to Be In World Cup - Poll

PARIS (Reuters) - Most people in France do not think their soccer team deserves to be in the 2010 World Cup and did not approve of Thierry Henry's handball that helped secure a finals place, according to an opinion poll published on Sunday.

Henry clearly handled the ball when setting up a late, decisive goal in the second leg of their playoff against Ireland last week, winning France a place in the World Cup finals.

But an OpinionWay poll for French state television said 81 percent of French people did not think their national team deserved to go to South Africa given their unconvincing performances throughout the qualifying stages.

An even bigger 88 percent said Henry was wrong to have used his hand to keep the ball in play and thereby create the vital scoring opportunity.

The contested victory has dominated French media over the past five days, with much soul searching about the notion of fair play in sport.

Henry, who has been vilified on the Internet, has denied cheating and said he wanted to see a replay against Ireland.

World soccer's governing body FIFA has ruled that the result should stand and that France rather than Ireland should take part in the World Cup.
OpinionWay pollsters questioned 1,003 people on November 20-21.


Martin Hansson, the referee at the centre of the Thierry Henry handball furore, has spoken at length for the first time about his "turbulent" ordeal and admitted he considered retiring during the fallout from the affair.

Martin Hansson waves away the Republic of Ireland's protests after France's equaliser.

The 38-year-old Swede failed to see Henry's double-paddle of the ball with his hand, which allowed the forward to then cross for William Gallas to head the extra-time equaliser which sent France to next summer's World Cup finals at Ireland's expense.

Speaking to his local newspaper, Sydöstran, Hansson said he hopes to return to high-profile officiating during the final round of Champions League group games next month.

"It has been a turbulent week. I cannot really comment anything about the match, and I'm not the one who decides that. That is Fifa regulations to protect the referees until the investigations are done," he said. "I asked myself if this job is worth all the humiliation I had to face.

"Thoughts like, 'Is this really what I want?' also came up in my head. But now I realise, after all the support I've got, that it wasn't my fault. It was an unlucky situation with big consequences for Ireland. But it wasn't our referee team's fault."

Of his return to refereeing in the Champions League on either 8 or 9 December, he added: "It is good to get a match so soon after all this [ France v Ireland flak]."

Hansson also said that directly after the second leg of the playoff in Paris last Wednesday he and his Swedish assistants returned and were offered support. "[On] Thursday we went to Enköping where all Swedish referees had a meeting. There we were offered support. We talked a lot, which felt good. The group got to know what had happened."


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