In the 2009 world cup qualifier Thierry Henry handballed and this decision directly led to the winning goal. The referee wasn’t looking. France gets to be in the world cup and Ireland doesn’t. In 2005 there was a technical fault involving the referee that led to a re match. Fifa has said that this does not apply to the match between France and Ireland, but has yet to explain why. They are not allowing a rematch.
An hour after the match, a website that was dedicated to the hatred of Thierry Henry by the Irish people on the basic premise that he had cheated his way into the world cup had 8,000 fans.
The next day on face book every status, besides the odd Farmville update, was about how Henry was a bastard. The first group I saw that had been set up to create a much needed sense of solidarity was ‘Thierry Henry is a cheating bastard’. It had over 11,000 fans. Other ones were ‘We hate Thierry Henry’, ‘We Irish hate Thierry Henry’, ‘Henry should have to apologize to Ireland’, ‘France cheated their way to south Africa’ and the very politically viable, ‘Petition for Ireland vs. France re-match’. These are just off the top of my head. There were many many more.
On the radio the entire day seemed to be filled with talk in one way or another about Henry and his horrible stain on the pride of the Irish nation. He should literally be shot, seemed to be the general consensus. Even shows that tried to shy away from it had a hard time. One talk show host categorically stated that he was trying to avoid the subject and had a plethora of enraged housewives and men in their twenties to call up and swear. Also it was international ‘Men’s Day’, which didn’t seem to help much.
So I called Eavan for a moan about the media onslaught to be told that I didn’t have to listen to the radio or go on facebook. I was complaining about the Irish’s constant need to complain, and while the irony had not been lost on me before the conversation started, Eavan made sure that I had it tattooed into my brain by the end. She also couldn’t help but tell me how it will affect the economy and even to describe the handball. ‘It was like he was catching a carton of milk you tossed at him, with the proper scoop and everything’. Bless her.
I hadn’t even watched the match.