By | November 19, 2009

If football were fair in any way, Ireland would be heading to the World Cup in South Africa. Instead, after a largely weak performance, France snuck through thanks to a handball by Thierry Henry converted into a header by Gallas.  Irish fans, who packed in large numbers in the Stade de France, are surely reeling in shock and rage.

Some are already comparing the goal to the infamous “Hand of God” goal scored by Maradona against England in 1986. The commentaries on You Tube and elsewhere are already lighting up with curses against Henry, some of them openly racist. Henry, meanwhile, has admitted that he touched the ball with his hand, but added: “I’m not the referee.”

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What, as a fan of the French team who desperately wanted to see the team play next year in South Africa, to make of this? A renewed respect for how perverse football can be, certainly, especially since I can’t help feeling elation and relief at the fact that, after torturing its fans for much of the past year, the French team has somehow made it through. Maybe in Africa the team will redeem itself?

Category: France World Cup World Cup Qualifiers

About Laurent Dubois

I am Marcello Lotti Professor of Romance Studies and History at Duke University. A specialist on the history and culture of France and the Caribbean, notably Haiti, I am the author of Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France. I founded the Soccer Politics blog in the Fall of 2009 as part of a Duke University course called "World Cup and World Politics," whose students helped me develop the site.

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