Blatant. Totally blatant. You can forget all the post match comments of ‘it wasn’t intentional’, Thierry Henry was at the heart of one of the worst examples of cheating on a football field last night and time has come to say enough is enough.

At the centre of a major storm, French international Thierry Henry

For those of you who missed it, like the referee and his assistant, the Republic of Ireland were leading 1 – 0 against France in Paris and seemed destined to take their World Cup play off match to a penalty shoot out.

But in the 13th minute of extra time came Henry’s outrageous act. He handled the ball, not once but twice, before setting up William Gallas for the deciding goal.

On camera, Henry admitted that it was handball but said that he didn’t mean to do it. However, Irish defender Richard Dunne told reporters that the Barcelona forward admitted to him that he had cheated.

Henry wears Reebok football boots, but should he any longer?

At least Henry should know how Dunne and his team mates will be feeling this morning. Who can forget his raw and emotional pitch side interview after the Champions League final of 2006 when he accused Barcelona of a less than honest approach during that game?

So what can be done?

First off it’s worth noting that any retrospective action against Henry or France will be of little consolation to the Republic. France are off to South Africa and they are not. That said, surely there must be action of some kind.

Certainly, if I was sitting in the Reebok board room today, I’m not sure I’d want my brand to be associated with such an individual as Henry. The incident, already known as ‘Hand Gaul’ is going to be replayed endlessly for years to come and Reebok will be at the heart of it. If I was them, I’d be sending Henry a letter curtailing his contract for ‘gross misconduct’. Gillette might think about doing the same. How Henry can now be mentioned in the same breath as Federer and Woods is beyond me.

henry cheat storm

Henry is one of Reebok’s biggest name ambassadors

Secondly, though Fifa and Uefa will be privately delighted that a major country like France has progressed at the expense of a lesser national like the ROI, they should ban Henry from taking part in the competition.

Any other message from either Reebok or the football authorities will be interpreted that cheats can prosper.

Thirdly, and here we go again, but how can it be that millions of viewers around the world can see that an offence has taken place and yet the referee and his assistant, who was perfectly positioned by the way, cannot. Where were Michel Platini’s extra assistants? If he’s so sure that they are the way forward, why were they not employed in such a crucial game as opposed to being used in worthless trials during the Europa League? And, if there was ever a more clear cut example that video technology is so desperately needed, I’ve yet to see it.

Henry’s conning of the officials and football world at large can be best summed up in the words of Liam Brady. “A shameful night for football.” Too true Liam, too true.

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  1. says: Duberry

    Henry had destroyed the dreams of the entire Ireland squad.

    Ireland played out of their skins and deserved to be in with a shout at the penalty shoot outs.

    Now France and Henry are off to France and the Irish lads may never get the chance to play in a world cup again.

    Shocking. I agree Reebok should disassociate themselves with Henry.

  2. says: Kyle

    AND he never wears the newest Reebok boots!

    I think he still wears the Sprintfit II’s, and Reebok have had at least 3 major releases sinse then!

    That said, is he the best Reebok have on their books? Castrol rankings would say so!

  3. says: Aussie Lad

    Over the years I have seen Henry pull off some dastardly acts such as diving and conning, but he was forgiven because he is just so good. With this latest action, I cannot look at him the same way, and I never will. Disgraceful Henry, absolutely disgraceful.

  4. says: Theo

    disappointed in FIFA again, but then, what’s new? It’s all part of the game that ref did a terrible job but he should have not allowed the goal to begin with.

  5. says: Jaspi

    This is unbelievable.

    Yes, let’s all blame Henry, he is the first player ever to break the rules!

    Oh, wait…

    Now when I think about it, Nike should dump Rooney, Torres, Cristiano Ronaldo and so on…They have all cheated in the game, how is that any different?

    And the refs, strange how the mistakes made in the first game have suddenly been forgotten. Given tackling Evra in the box, where’s that “Shay you dirty cheater!” -talk on that foul?. This wasn’t the only mistake, Gignac being ruled offside in a situation where he was onside and would had scored.

    It just seems that because Henry is french and isn’t as likeable as his british Premier League colleagues people get furious over a matter that was infact a simple mistake by the refs.

  6. says: Em

    Oh be quiet please! it happened its over and thats that! HE shouldnt get the reebok contract revoked! But if it is w/e vapors would look better on him anyway 🙂 FRANCE!!!!

  7. says: Fenboy

    Jaspi – you just don’t get it do you? Cheating used to be the exception and now its the rule. In fact, its become an epidemic.

    Yes, others have cheated in the past but now is the time to take a stand.

    I’m sure if the country you support lost such an important game in such circumstances, you’d be a little more critical of the player rather than the ref.

    Your view seems to be, players can do what they want as long as the ref doesn’t see it. Is that really the way you want football to go??

  8. says: Jimmy J

    Completely agree Fenboy. People who say that ‘it has always happened or its the referee’s fault’ are living in a dreamworld.

    Football is a sporting sewer at the moment and something needs to change, and fast.

  9. says: Jaspi

    Fenboy – I’m finnish, so I’m used to losing in all sorts of situations.

    I agree that now is the time to take a stand. But how does that have anything to do with blaming it all on Henry? I mean, Henry has got nothing on the true masters of this fine art like Cristiano Ronaldo and others (even the great Steven Gerrard spends a lot of time on the ground gesturing, but hey, he’s english, a tough guy and wears black boots).

    The above column judges only Henry and recommends taking action only on him. This way it stands out as crybaby -like text written by a sore loser who is still hurting from yesterday. If you’re intention is to take a stand, blame all the cheaters, not just one.

    A better column would had been : Oh Kay On… Why Nike must dump CR, Kun Agüero, Torres, Rooney & Adidas must dump Gerrard, Villa, Adebayor and so on.

  10. says: MisterBroom12

    To claim that Henry deliberately handled the ball and that he lied when he said he didn’t is ridiculous. How do you know what was happening in his mind and body. He admitted the ball hit his hand and that the goal should not have counted, but if the refs are not going to stop play, why should he? Henry and France want just as much to go to the World Cup as Ireland so you can’t expect him to just stop and say “no, I handled it, there should be a free kick here.” The same way if an Irish player were offsides when played through, yet the linesmans flag stayed down, he would continue on to goal. As of now, Henry said he didn’t mean to do it and just continued to play. If that is true then Dunne is lying and he should be punished for trying to make Henry look like a cheat. If it is the other way around then Henry will have to live with that. Every single player in the world cheats, from a dive for a penalty, to the smallest of shirt pulls when trying to gain position on a corner, if you want to punish cheaters, then there should be the same action for all of them, no matter the level of cheating because it is all the same

  11. says: Kyle

    Loads of good points; Fenboy, Jespi & MisterBroom12 especially!

    To everyone defending Henry – I agree that most every player has ‘cheated’ at some point, and if the ref didn’t blow the whistle why should he stop playing?

    But do you think it’s high-time such acts are clamped down on?
    Should Henry be made an example of, to discourage future cheats?
    Or would you rather see new measures brought in like Video ref-ing, or more officials pitchside for example?

  12. says: Fenboy

    Jaspi – good man for posting again and explaining your point more.

    I agree, Henry is not the first to cheat but he is the latest and that’s why Andy’s column features on him.

    And if you read previous columns by him, he regularly has a go at all who cheat.

    I would suggest that things have now got so bad that action must be taken – Henry just happens to be in the firing line for now.

    As for MisterBroom, how on earth you can go with Henry’s view that the ball hit his hand is beyond me. His hand hit the ball….twice! Once may have been instinctive, the second time it was controlled and calculated. As for you comparing this with an Irish player running offside, all I can say is I hope you never work in football officialdom. I fear the game would never survive.

  13. says: Derek

    Well it’s been more than 20 years and youtube videos of Maradona punching the ball in the net are still being viewed. It’s what most people remember of him, that he used his hand to score. It’ll be the same for Henry, it’s just a shame the the Irish don’t make it because of that, a shootout loss would have been easier to deal with because it’s “well lads we did our best and we looked great” or a shootout win would have been great for Ireland.

  14. says: ill-d

    i dont understand why ref’s rulings cant be challenged and reversed via slow motion instant replay. each team should be allowed two. jus sayin…

    in this case, ireland could use one, refs could watch slow motion, and reverse the obvious bad call (or should i say non-call)

    they do it in other sports, like american football.

    all this “well, the ref blew it and missed a huge call! oh well!” is bullsh!t. the game needs to change with the times, and if utilizing technology in order to make the game more fair, so be it.

  15. says: Gunner!

    i really dont think that this column is fair towards Henry. It would be a COMPLETELY different matter if he hadnt admitted to it, but he did and for that he should be let of the hook. Im not saying what he did can be justified in anyway, but i think its a little bit to extreme to be saying that he should end his contract with reebok.

  16. says: Joe A

    From a business point of view it would be much stupid for reebok to drop Henry , and the incident is part of the game and maybe Ireland should have done better not to let the game go to extra time. Can’t blame Henry how many times to we see goals disallowed because of a false offside call , why don’t they start judging offside on video reviews as well. the game is exciting the way its played and thats why we love it ! And whoever can get away with an unlawful act to help their team win , then so be it its part of the game , its not the first time its happened and it wont be the last!

  17. says: Raul7

    If nothing happens and france go through to the World Cup, then I’d like to know if Platini is clean in all of this. You can’t tell me that he’s not trying to justify what happened last night in his mind… or maybe even cover up any referee influence he may have had? Idk, pure speculation.

  18. says: kuuku

    I agree with Jaspi, MrBroom12 and Gunner. Of course henry did a horrible thing and should be punished. However picking one scapegoat in this fashion hints of victimization. This is similar to the eduardo diving incident a while ago. Both players, in the heat of the moment, sought to gain an advantage in a less than scrupulous manner. In both cases I find it really difficult to blame and attack the player because it is always the press that make a huge uproar and it is unlikely that the press are totally objective. Players are doing this kind of thing all over the field all the time. Had the match officials spotted the wrongdoings all would have been dandy. There’s no valid point to instigate a witch hunt just to cover up what is, in the end, a situation that could have been prevented by some alert refereeing. Not to blame the referee because their jobs are hard and they were probably unsighted.

    In this case henry cannot be expected to stop play in such a crucial game and so late on too. If it comes to be that henry’s handball is the difference between france going to the worldcup or not going it will be regarded in the same manner as maradona’s ‘hand of god’. Such controversial incidents are the hallmark of the greatest players. I myself have been in such a situation and though I do not condone cheating of any sort I can understand how a player would seek the advantage in that split second.

    Stripping him of his gillete and reebok contracts is harsh. WHat should be done is a rule set in place to properly punish the next misdemeanor, no matter who commits it.. Making an example of henry will do nothing but assuage torn irish hearts.

  19. says: MisterBroom12

    Fenboy – I wasn’t justifying that it should not have been called handball, just that if Henry says he didn’t mean to do it, thats all we have to go by from his point of view. I compared it to offsides in a way saying that if a player knows he is in the wrong but the referee awards, or like in this case and my example fails to reward, a free kick the players on going to continue on with the game as it was called. I agree, it was blatantly a handball that should have been called and it does appear that after the first touch he knocked it back down to himself, but if he says it wasn’t on purpose you can either believe him or not believe him. Also, to go along with my first comment, Ireland have submitted a complaint to FIFA to try to get a replay. The only way in which Ireland should be justified in doing so, is to have all of their players sign off on something saying that at no point during the playoff, any of them conned the referee into making a decision or non-decision. If the games are reviewed and an Irish player has, they have no more of a cause then than France, other than that France took advatage of the refereeing system as it is.

  20. says: Mati

    Oh Kay, ur name must be something O’Keefe or something on that diection. the only act of cheating was the seedings, and blatter admitted it was a mistake when everything was said and done. henry’s handball was blatant, even the french commentators saw it (i didnt first time). but then again, cheating has unfortunately become a part of the game (diving is even in pro, u know!! lol)…point is, this article is exaggerating the point. ireland could have finished the game earlier, they should evaluate their mistakes as well.

  21. says: Conor Smith

    Surely this game has to be replayed, there is too much at stake for it just to be brushed off.

    FAX number for FIFA! +41-43-222 7878

    We all know that if it happened up the other end that Platini would already have the rules changed and a replay organised!
    But I would like to point out that anyone that can read French will see that respect to the French people for their reaction of disgust to Henry’s actions, so for the people that France I hope that they go on to do well in the World Cup! I had a look at this link below that has some good football related Facebook Statuses for the World Cup in its Facebook Status Generator:

    Fair Play must shine through and FIFA have got a big message to send out now by banning Henry from the World Cup!

  22. says: martincillo

    what platini said about this !!!!????
    he always talk about the lot of money that the bigger club waste in players, but about this…

  23. says: martincillo

    and about the article, why rebook should dump henry???, he cheat with his hand not with his boot, and now everybody is talking about reebok so they are happy =P

  24. says: Ian

    Your point about the extra referees in the box is ridiculous. Platini is the president of UEFA, not FIFA. He has no authority to change WC Qualifiers.

    But the thing that I have the most problem with is the fact that you feel we should judge Henry’s entire career based on one incident? Why condemn a player who has been the definition of class throughout his career for one lapse of judgment? In the heat of the moment who can blame him for his actions? If the ref sees it he gets a yellow and the match goes on, if he doesn’t France are through to the WC. If we take your logic of condemning a legendary player for one act such as this then France should make him their next president if he scores in the World Cup. Give me a break.

  25. says: Josh

    the people who wrote this have closer ties to ireland so theyre just mad. s**t happens get over it. alot of stuff like this has happened befoer.

  26. says: markymark

    Jaspi has it spot on…

    Henry handballed. Yes. Ireland can feel hard done by. Yes.

    But dropping Henry from reebok? Please tell me you’re joking.

    In honesty, i had hoped more from footy-boots. but no, gone the way of the mainstream media who don’t have the same insight into the game.

    Listen, a handball is a foul, but he’s not an outright ‘cheat’.

    Henry didnt step foot onto that field with the sole purpose of handelling the ball. And mr kay, have you every played football? There are times when your body takes over, you’re instincts act. A handball isnt a calculated act.

    What about all these ‘tough’ defenders who set foot onto the field with the sole purpose of roughing up the opposition. Thats far far worse. but noone bats an eyelid.

    Henry made a foul, but not a calculated, methodical one. It was rash and i feel sorry for ireland but thats the game.

    The finger here is solely pointed at the officals, because they should have spotted this technically minor infringement, but they didnt. This happens the length and bredth of every footballing country so before you condem Henry for irelands lack of fortune just remember that not every foul is a tactical deception of the referee.

  27. says: ill-d

    i still think huge misplaced calls by refs should be able to be challenged and reviewed via slow mo instant replay.

    mind you not all calls, then each team would be challenging calls every five minutes. maybe just 2 challenges per team per game.

  28. says: zayne

    i agree than henry was wrong and should be punished but im not sure that rebook should do anything about it. his boots had nothing to do with the hand ball and i dont know about other people but what professional players do does not really influence what cleats i am going to buy. i just buy the cleats that feel the best on my feet.

  29. says: bonski

    This is a ridiculous article, why should henry be dumped? if henry is to be dumped, every other football manufacturer must dump their stars and in the end no one would have any sponsors.

    Same reason for why the game shouldn’t be replayed, if that game is to be replayed, than every other game that involved a missed foul should be replayed and chaos would outbreak…

    it’s just unfortunate what happened, we can all cry and get angry but down the track it will be a distant memory…

  30. says: Andy Kay

    Hi everyone – thanks for your comments and feedback. It’s been fascinating looking at the responses. To answer a few of your points…

    Mati – Kay is the name, not O’Keefe or indeed anything with an Irish connection. I’m English.

    Josh – arguing that stuff like this has happened before doesn’t make it right or acceptable. Personally, I’ve had enough.

    Markymark – handball can sometimes be ‘just’ a foul but in my opinion, Henry’s double touch of the ball was calculated, especially the second time. Owning up to the fact after the final whistle is irrelevant. Owning up to it at the time would have been interesting though. And no, I never did play at the highest level but I’ve reported on top flight football for the past 20 years so I think I’m qualified to have an opinion.

  31. says: JamieB

    Henry did what any other professional footballer would do in his situation. he is the captain of his country, and provided for his country. Anyone would do it for their country. like maradonna’s infamous ‘hand of god’. it is quite contradictory to think of it in a cheating way when many believe maradonna’s was a the stroke of a desperate genius.

  32. says: Gunner!

    Markymark has such a valid point about it, Henry did not set out at the beginning of the match and say to himself “in the xyz minute i will handle the ball and send my team into the wc finals” no, what he did was what most players are lambasted for not doing; giving there all for their team, especially as a captain! allbeit it was stupid way of doing so but nonetheless he did it, he cant escape that now. i just dont understand how one player of such class is now being tainted because a moment of instinct.

  33. says: markymark

    Andy Kay – Cheers form the reply. Looking back my original reply sounded kinda harsh. But my sentiment remains the same, i don’t think this shows a lack of character from Henry, more that he’s made a foul at a very oppotune moment. I just think some of the media coverage is becomming far too sensationalist, if this happened mid game, noone would care. The fact it lead to a goal is not calculating from Henry, it’s the fault of the officals to not spot it, in my opinion.

    Cheers mate 🙂

  34. says: José Luis

    I think Reebok should only change the kind of shoes they deliver to the player and send him Basketball shoes.

  35. says: José Luis

    Football rules state that referee´s desitions are final and can not be changed once the game has re-started. What if Irish players do not agree to keep on playing and they simply leave the field or wait untill the referee asks Henry if he touched the ball with his hand. I think the French striker would have told the truth to the referee if asked.

  36. says: Splinter09

    Outrageous that is all I have to say! Now you watch France and Argentina make it to the final when they shouldn’t even be there in the first place, after both being helped my Referee’s mistakes.

  37. says: Frankie

    Thierry Henry is a legend.
    If you are playing for your country ANY individual who would want to win would of done it.
    And is it his fault he didn’t get caught????
    Its more the referees fault then it is his so give him a break.
    Drug cheats in athletics don’t get this much slack and they premeditate there method of cheating, so leave him alone.

  38. says: Jimmy J

    Frankie – so what you are saying is…..rob a bank, beat your kids, it’s all fine as long as you don’t get caught. The perpetrator is totally innocent.

    If you honestly believe this, please respond with the name of the team you play for and your number as, I’m sure you will agree, it will be perfectly acceptable for your opponents to kick you all day long or, as long as they can until they get caught.

    Geez, I do wonder about the human race sometimes I really do.

  39. says: Adam

    To be quite honest, after reading this ‘article’ I think anything written on this site has lost credibility. It seems the author has just jumped on the media bandwagon. As many have previous, all big stars have cheated at one point, regardless of the stage, cheating is cheating. Surely Gerrard in the champions league final is worse? Rooney to end Arsenal’s unbeaten run? The fact there is a youtube video of Robbie Keane ‘cheating’ to win a penalty for Ireland against Georgia, then celebrating… sort of makes me think of good old karma. Where was Keane’s intergrity, or the fact Duff has stated that he would have done the same at the other end, hoping the officials would see it… So long as video refereeing is absent from football, people will cheat… And they will prosper.

  40. says: KickSprint45

    What goes around comes around!

    I remember ROI got a penalty againts Georgia when the ball hit the defender’s shoulder. They were losing 1-0 but Keane scored from the resulting spot-kick and they went on to win the game.

    Did the Irish FA admit the match should have been replayed? NO! So they just got a piece of their own medicine.

  41. says: rbarsenal

    Hmmm . . . Let’s not go and blame Henry. Sure, he handled the ball, but it’s not up to him to stop the play and stand there and say, “Sorry, I hit it with my hand.” How many of you would stop a goal scoring play that would send you to the world cup? I’m willing to bet not very many.

    The officials are to blame. The Europa League goal-linesmen should have been used. Blame should not lie with Henry.

    I feel for Ireland, I’ve had similar experiences in my local league finals, but we can’t start painting Henry as a cheater; he’s done so much good in his life, including philanthropy, and we should let this incident blow over.

    BTW, I’m of Irish heritage . . .

  42. says: Connor Wallace

    First- Henry is guilty of nothing other than playing football in a competitive manner. Assuming we’ve all played football we have all committed some fouls and none of us can honestly say we stop playing when we commit a foul. Some of us aren’t even man enough to admit that we committed a foul if were asked.

    Second- Um… the game was tied so Ireland wasnt necessarily headed for south africa. honestly they didnt even win at home and they only scored 1 goal in 210 minutes of football and if it came to pks france still has the advantage. Ireland should be proud they scored in france and upset they blew their home game.

    Finally- If Reebok wants to stay in the football market they will not drop Henry, nor should they. And by the way, henry does not wear the valde but sticks to his sprintfits because they are two totally different boots. the sprintfits are speed boots like his estranged vapors and the valdes are more in the like of a power boot such as a predator or t90. nike does not and would not tell rooney to wear the new vapors when they come out or encourage ronaldo to wear the laser 3s coming out soon.

    If youre Irish, welcome to your heritage. youre a small country and the luck of the irish is not always good luck.

  43. says: Eric

    Maradona scores using his hand and its called the hand of God. Messi does the same and still no one says a thing. Ronaldo, Drogba, and countless others dive. Where’s the hate thread on those players?

  44. says: avash

    hey, i am suprised of thiery henry’s action at what he did at the ground was unfair.ireland could have been in the world cup,but due to the wrong dicision of the ref france are in the world cup

  45. says: sam

    to all those who think henry cheated, i only can say get your head out of your asses.

    he admitted to handling. cheaters have never come out doing that. he said it shouldnt be counted. he has been doing everything to put things right. never has one cheater done that. he asked for the replay for crying out loud.

    this is fff and fifa fault. they have a chance to do the right thing but they didn’t.

  46. says: Drew

    This was not a very good article unfortunately. Yes, it’s unfortunate Henry did what he did and yes, it’s unfortunate the referee and assistant referee missed it. However, one incident is not enough to totally throw a legend of the game into the trash. This happens all the time in in the sport (and it has been since the sport first started). This kind of knee-jerk reaction is the problem–not a French striker doing his best to win a game. People need to realize that it’s simply a game at the end of the day and mistake happen from both players and referees.

  47. says: james

    whoever wrote this article has something really against henry for some reason? Why do you hate him so much, he did not purposely grab the ball with his hand it was an accident and he played it, what did they tell you when your kids… if you don’t hear the whistle keep playing and thats exactly what he did.

    ALso remember back a couple of years during the final of the FA cup, one of his shots was bloocked clearly by a defenders hand. Also, why should rebok dump henry, Eduardo made a clear dive earlier this year and u did not make a big deal of that, Messi scorred on a hand ball, the hand of god and people praised him for being like maradonna.

    my question is why do you hat Henry so much he might of ACCIDENTLY used his hand to score and he even admitted it was sorry, while u bash him for it. You make out to look like the devil when all he did was make a little accident

  48. says: JtheARAB

    i completely agree with this article especially, “Fifa and Uefa will be privately delighted that a major country like France has progressed at the expense of a lesser national like the ROI” it seems unless you have a star above your emblem you get punished for playing fair and sticking to the rules, fifa and uefa should use this as a deterrent and make an example of those who cheat and are slowly killing the game we love. and funding these cheats through multi million pound sponsorships just should not happen. he should be dropped. cheat.
    i’m glad we beat them home and away.

  49. says: Mims

    Players dive
    Fouls dont get called
    Hand balls are missed
    It is all part of the game whether intentional or not. If you play the game tell me you never had a hand ball that wasnt called…have u ever fouled any one and they werent given the call? have u flopped or “exadurated a foul”? The answer from any footballer is yes and that is all considered cheating but it happens!!! There have been many incidents over the years teams and supporters need to get over it and move on its a beautiful game but we all know it can get ugly but we love it all the same!!!!

  50. says: davoy

    you can tell this site is from the uk…….why are you’ll trying to sabotage thierry henry career…you can never keep a good man down. anyway who want to see ireland in the world cup a team who cant even make it out of the group stage, come on. The irish squad is full of second division players…ireland best player is robbie keane and he cant walk in any french player boots. so come on get over it

  51. says: Devin

    Reebok must keep Henry or they are basically worth nothing. Him and Ryan Giggs are the biggest stars they have. Keep him, if they wanna survive. The only case where I think a brand should have dissociated themself with a player was Zidane and Adidas, but they still didn’t do that, and they would have been just fine without him.

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