With the match going into extra time, the French had an injection of pace with the introduction of Sidney Govou and Florent Malouda. Les Bleus began to make more endeavoring runs, and they were rewarded with a free-kick outside of the area. The ball was floated in to the onrushing Henry, who crossed it across the box to Gallas who headed home. The French were ecstatic, but the Irish were incensed. They were screaming for offsides and handball! As the television showed the replay of the goal, people around the world were dumbstruck as they saw Henry handle the ball not once, but twice before setting up the cross for Gallas. It was a blatant handball, and one that sealed the door on the Irish dreams of making it to the World Cup.
“I handled it, I admit it, but I’m not the referee.”
The media blitz after the match was incredible and fierce. Henry was instantly labeled as a cheat, and he became one of the most hated figures in sports. Trying to restore some of his image Henry released a statement saying,
“I am not a cheat and never have been. It was an instinctive reaction to a ball that was coming extremely fast in a crowded penalty area…. Naturally, I feel embarrassed at the way that we won and feel extremely sorry for the Irish who definitely deserve to be in South Africa.”
Fifa continued to reject approaches from the Irish Football Association, instead saying that an investigation would be launched into the matter. Henry also told reporters that his family had been threatened in the aftermath.[1} Not all of the fallout was bad however. The debate over video technology was again raised, and now more than ever, supporters have real firepower and evidence to use to promote their views. Whatever the case, the event took away some of the French team’s legitimacy in the eyes of the world, and it will surely be a long time before the footballing world forgives Henry.
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