Friday, November 20, 2009

Kerrzy's Notebook: Move Over Maradona

In June of 1986, Argentina's national squad got some "heavenly intervention" when Diego Maradona put his side ahead in a quarter-final match with England.

He went up to challenge the England keeper for the ball, knocked it with his fist, and celebrated as it went into the net - and since the ref didn't see it, the goal stood. After the game, he famously quipped that the goal was "a little with the head of Maradona, a little with the hand of God."

Well, there was an incident this week that conjured up images of that goal - a handball in extra time by Thierry Henry that directly resulted in the winning goal, sending France to the 2010 World Cup, and sending Ireland packing.

As you'll see in the video below, it all starts from a free kick near centre in the thirteenth minute of extra time - the ball is sent into the six yard box, narrowly missing the hand of one French player, it bounces in front of Henry, who puts his hand out to keep it in play (which you can't do). He then flicks it on to William Gallas who taps it in with his noggin.

After the game, Henry played it cool - admitting he hit the ball with his hand, but it's not up to him to blow the whistle, and he's got a point. According to the Canadian Press, Henry said:

"I will be honest, it was a handball. But I'm not the ref. I played it. The ref allowed it. That's a question you should ask him."

Quite right. But to me, the pressing question is - did he do it on purpose? In the quotes that I've seen from Henry in the aftermath of the disputed goal, I haven't seen words like "unintentional" or "accident," which is what I would say if I was being hounded by journalists after the game.

"The ball came up and hit my hand; it was unintentional, but I didn't hear a whistle and so I kept playing." That's the sort of thing I was looking for, but I didn't find it.

That leads me to believe that he got away with an intentional handball, which cost Ireland a trip to the World Cup. In soccer they don't do the whole video replay thing, and while some are calling for a rematch, that won't happen. It's one of those instances where the damage is done and there's nothing that can really change what happened.

What do you think?

Is it time they brought in some sort of football-style challenge system, where coaches can throw the flag for a video review? Should FIFA just leave things how they are? Should there be more dramatic changes?

Just for good measure, here is Maradona's famous "Hand of God" goal in the '86 World Cup:

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