Join 3,431 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The Hand of God, Part Deux
November 19, 2009 11:49 AM   Subscribe

The world of soccer has been rocked by a French player's game-defining handball in the much-anticipated qualifier match between France and Ireland. Thierry Henry has admitted to the offense, but said ultimately it is the duty of the linesman to make the call. His action and subsequent admission have drawn strong reactions, including attempts to vandalize his Wikipedia page.

This sort of thing isn't new to the World Cup; in fact, Henry's move has been dubbed "Le Hand of God” by British tabloid The Sun, and “Hand of Gaul” by The Australian, both in reference to Argentinean player Maradona's “Hand of God” goal in the 1986 World Cup quarterfinal match between Argentina and England. Is it time to introduce video replay? Tournament organizer Danny Jordaan says videos wouldn't end these kinds of mistakes. There are others who disagree.

In an added layer of controversy, last month, Ireland's goalkeeper Shay Given had voiced his displeasure with FIFA's decision regarding seeding the playoffs; Republic of Ireland assistant manager Liam Brady speculates that seeding decision may have influenced the linesman, something he expressed concern about going in.

Despite all the hoopla, FIFA insists there will be no rematch. See Le Hand of Gaul here.
posted by lovermont (112 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
oh no, not his wikipedia page
posted by boo_radley at 11:54 AM on November 19, 2009 [12 favorites]


Looking at his Wikipedia page history, I give them a B-. Sure, it takes time, but if you're going to call the guy a cunt over and over again, you've got to vandalize the whole article, not just the introductory bit.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:58 AM on November 19, 2009


One Sportsfilter commenter referred to this as the 'Hand of Frog' incident. Awesome.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:04 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wah wah wah. It's not up to players to cop to penalties. Imagine a hockey player skating to a ref and saying, "Hey, actually I did hook that other guy, lemme in the penalty box." Imagine a baseball player saying, "Actually, ump, I think the guy was safe. I saw his hand on the bag out of the corner of my eye before my glove hit his leg."

Part of competitive sports is the bending of the rules, and the referees' jobs are to limit that bending. A pitcher who never tested the corners of the umpire's notion of a strike zone would be predictable and ineffective.

So yeah, if a football (soccer) player gives the ball the ol' reach-around and it's not caught by the ref, it is the ref's fault. Blatant, egregious cheating is usually penalized hard, and anyone who thinks that the cheats that are caught are the only ones that happen is being willfully ignorant.
posted by explosion at 12:04 PM on November 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


What a pretty goal. Too bad he hand-balled it. I could see how the ref would miss it though, its fairly subtle. Sure its obvious on slow motion zoomed in replay. But if you saw that from 30 yards out full speed, you might not have seen anything. I'm with Henry on this one. Keep your mouth shut, play to the whistle, let the referee call the match.

Video replay would just slow the game down and give a bunch of "insufficient evidence to over turn the call" results like it does in American Football. Lame. Referee mistakes on close calls are part of the game.

On preview: what explosion said ^
posted by no_moniker at 12:07 PM on November 19, 2009


The game shouldn't be decided by what the referee missed, it should be decided by what really happened on the field of play. Instant replay by the officials to determine if a penalty has occurred should be used to determine what really happened. It might slow the pace a bit though.
posted by Daddy-O at 12:11 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


My favorite response so far has been this video by the Guardian's Barry Glendenning (who's Irish, I might add). He did their minute by minute report and is probably best known for writing The Fiver, The Guardian's teatime football email, which had their inimitable take on their matter. The Guardian football podcast is worth a listen (and includes Barry Glendenning).

Please please please let this lead to Raymond Domenech being fired as the French national team's coach.
posted by Kattullus at 12:13 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've got to agree. It sucks for Ireland, but it's not Henry's fault, it's the line judge's. It's the ref's job to catch egregious fouls like that, it's Henry's job to win.

And I feel like instant replays would be disastrous for the sport.
posted by snoehp at 12:14 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Football cannot continue to exist outwith current technologies.

The stakes were ridiculously high for Ireland. Not just qualification for the World Cup, but the revenues that come with it and the coefficient points which could have a bearing on their seedings at future competitions.

Those arguing against the introduction of technology will point out that it is not practical or financially feasible to have banks of cameras and additional officials at every association football game, the simple fact is that all games are not equal and when the stakes are high the officiating must be spot on.
posted by fire&wings at 12:14 PM on November 19, 2009


Imagine how the French fans would have reacted if he had convinced the ref it was a handball and the goal shouldn't count. Definitely not his responsibility, when I play local indoor soccer, I'm apt to call my own handballs if the ref doesn't, but for international world cup qualifiers? Definitely up to the ref.
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:15 PM on November 19, 2009


No, it's not the players job to cop to the goal. It is the players job to NOT FUCKING CHEAT.
posted by TomMelee at 12:15 PM on November 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


The goalkeeper ran out of his net to complain about the handball without even attempting to stop the goal. That's a poor effort. All of the defenders around throw up their hands, too, although they are in no position to do anything about it.

As much skill and effort as I know go in to playing [football], and as terrible as I am at it, I am increasingly put off by: the whining, the player-as-referee, and the dive-taking. This is a refereeing issue and that will never be perfectly accurate. Players of other sports just seem to accept this fact with a little more grace. I suppose there must be a really weird aspect of the sport culture that I would love to hear explained sometime.
posted by Acari at 12:15 PM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


One Sportsfilter commenter referred to this as the 'Hand of Frog' incident. Awesome.

I don't know what Sports Filter is but The Guardian coined that term almost immediately after the fact.


Here's all you need to know about this: You can get on your moral soapbox about how no one should ever cheat and thus show everyone how wonderful you are, or you can learn about how several non-whiny Ireland players have stated that they probably would have done the same thing Henry did.
posted by Zambrano at 12:19 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


boo_radley: I threw that in there 'cause I think it reflects that soccer has a very widespread—and sometimes rabid—following (particularly outside the US). Also, I found it amusing that a few would-be hooligans have gone geek.
posted by lovermont at 12:19 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I’m no angel, but I know that I wouldn’t have done what he did."

Seems to be indicating that had he gained a goal with a handball, he would have instantly run up the ref and come clean... I call complete and utter bullshit. I would be surprised if there was any professional sportsperson who wouldn't wait to see what the ref did in the hopes that you make it through to the finals. It's a huge outcome either way, and you don't have to make that decision.
I'd be amazed if it was deliberate on Henry's part, after the career he's had (and the fact that he's one of the smarter players around), but anyone French, or part of that team would give him hell had he instantly insisted their own winning goal was overturned.
posted by opsin at 12:20 PM on November 19, 2009


There are a couple of issues here.

One is the extent to which bigger clubs get the benefit of dodgy decisions like this. It's pretty clear that FIFA/UEFA went for seeding only when they saw that big teams like Portugal and France ended up in the playoffs - seeding made it less likely that they could knock out each other, and guaranteed easier games for them. Whether you can draw a line from that to what happened last night is debatable.

The other is whether to allow instant or near-instant video evidence while the game is going on. The last thing I'd like to see is the flow of the game disrupted, but there's certainly a case to be made for retroactive punishments being applied for blatant cheating like last night's incident.
posted by daveje at 12:21 PM on November 19, 2009


I think, explosion, is that there is a difference between the cultures of different sports. Some, like NASCAR, have the mentality of "If you're not cheating, you're not trying." Additionally, baseball has always had this mentality, from doctoring baseballs to stealing signals from the grandstands.

Others like golf don't have this mentality, a golfer will penalize himself if the club hits the ball twice when coming out of a bunker. Soccer to me has always had this mentality, it the player disagrees with the call, I've seen him give the ball up to the other team.

I think what soccer fans are angry at is that the player is moving the culture from more like golf to more like NASCAR.
posted by rakish_yet_centered at 12:21 PM on November 19, 2009


Oh, and first we saw of "Hand of Frog" was Dave Gorman on Twitter saying 'the press will probably refer to it as Hand of Frog, which would be horrible'. Seems he was right, but probably because they stole it from him. Despite the sentence including the fact it would be horrible to call it that.
I love the press.
Sigh.
posted by opsin at 12:22 PM on November 19, 2009


No, it's not the players job to cop to the goal. It is the players job to NOT FUCKING CHEAT.
posted by TomMelee


A handball is a foul, that is not cheating. It is a violation of the rules and the rules have a structure to deal with said violation (which failed in this instance). Cheating would be say, using drugs, or rigging the game, or bribing the ref or somesuch. Calling this cheating is odd.
posted by haveanicesummer at 12:22 PM on November 19, 2009 [10 favorites]


Actually, one thing I should point out, Glendenning mentions that if there were videoreplays then France would've been awarded a penalty earlier in the game. That said, it was a complete travesty that the French goal was allowed.
posted by Kattullus at 12:23 PM on November 19, 2009


I realize it's not going to happen, but I'd love it if players would call it when they screw up. I think that would show real sportsmanship.
posted by zippy at 12:31 PM on November 19, 2009


The issue here is instant replay, and FIFA would be well served to use it.

The reason it doesn't work in the NFL is because the rules are screwy and much of the time you're dealing with controvertible proof (did the knee touch the ground before the ball came out; where should the ball be spotted, etc.)

The NHL and NBA both have adopted instant replay with few problems.

Video wouldn't "end" these kind of mistakes, but it would reduce them significantly.

Jordaan says fans should accept that disputed decisions are part of soccer.

Folks can handle "disputed" decisions (e.g. offsides calls). But "completely wrong" decisions are no good for anyone.

Disclaimer: I like Henry and I was rooting for France.

Not a single person in the world can be left with any doubt as to Henry's actions last night, yet FIFA's own website described the manouevre variously as a "flick" and a "pass".

FIFA is shooting itself in the foot.

If you're trying to run the biggest sporting event in the world, and the purpose of the event is to find out who the best football team in the world is, then you need to go to good efforts to ensure the officiating of that event is to a standard which puts the destiny as much as possible in the hands of the players, rather than the officials.

Amen. I'm curious why some think an instant-replay system would be "disastrous."
posted by mrgrimm at 12:31 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Robbie Keane was controlling the ball with his arms all game. I doubt the UK and Irish press would have been quite as outraged if he'd managed to score the winner that Ireland on balance merited. Professional sportsmen constantly bend the rules as far as the officials allow them to. The fault here lies with the ref and linesman for missing the handball, and FIFA for not having video refs.
posted by Bodd at 12:32 PM on November 19, 2009


Others like golf don't have this mentality, a golfer will penalize himself if the club hits the ball twice when coming out of a bunker.

Granted, I don't actually watch professional golf because it doesn't seem like much of a spectator sport, but at the top ranks, don't they have professional scorekeepers keeping track of that stuff? I can't imagine with big prize money on the line, that any pro golfer would volunteer that the ball hit the club twice on a slightly clumsy swing if it weren't obvious to the scorekeeper.
posted by explosion at 12:33 PM on November 19, 2009


Also, Maradona and Messi did it so much better. Maradona was even offsides!
posted by mrgrimm at 12:35 PM on November 19, 2009


I realize it's not going to happen, but I'd love it if players would call it when they screw up. I think that would show real sportsmanship.

Likewise, it's something I was thinking about not all that long ago for some reason... I think after some NFL I was watching. I was wondering what I would do in that position. I'm all for fairness, and like to think that in any situation where I knew I didn't catch the ball in bounds, or committed a handball, I would come clean. But then you have however many people on your team, or who work for your team, who would all hold you responsible if you then lost the game when the ref hadn't noticed. It's certainly not a position it would be nice to be put in, I can at least say that much!
posted by opsin at 12:37 PM on November 19, 2009


Dude, i've been playing soccer for 22 years. I know what's cheating and what isn't.

A handball is a foul, for sure, which results in a direct kick. Absolutely. Duh.

When you intentionally use your hands in soccer, you are intentionally breaking the rules. When you hide your breaking of those rules to effect the outcome of the game, you are cheating.

Semantically I see your argument. However, intentionally breaking the rules = cheating.
posted by TomMelee at 12:38 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


This football, they take it serious in Europe, don't they?
posted by tommasz at 12:39 PM on November 19, 2009


It's just a game. Except of course when it isn't.

La guerra del fútbol
posted by philip-random at 12:40 PM on November 19, 2009


From the NY Times article:

Now they’ll be known for being robbed by Henry, and Henry, as Martin Rogers writes on Yahoo.com, will forever be known as a cheat on par with Argentina's Diego Maradona, who has taken the opposite tack and refuses to own up to the 1986 "Hand of God" goal.

Huh? Maradona admits it to Gary Lineker in this BBC video from a few years ago.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:42 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Professional sportsmen constantly bend the rules as far as the officials allow them to.

True, but deliberate handball isn't bending the rules, it's breaking them. Fairly black and white, no real shades of grey.

The fault here lies with the ref and linesman for missing the handball, and FIFA for not having video refs.

And not with the cheating player? Bizarre.
posted by daveje at 12:46 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


In soccer you can infringe the rules in many ways inadvertently, e.g. get your hand in the way of a ball, catch someone's ankles and trip them up. It happens and sometimes the ref catches it and sometimes he doesn't. You count your fortune and move on. This seems different. Intentionally breaking the rules to gain an advantage is consciously cheating.
posted by idb at 12:47 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


When you intentionally use your hands in soccer, you are intentionally breaking the rules. When you hide your breaking of those rules to effect the outcome of the game, you are cheating.

But what if it wasn't intentional? What if it was a muscle reflex? In that case, according to the FIFA rules, it was not a foul.

"As recently as 1996 FIFA specifically changed the laws to make it very clear that it is only a foul if the player handles the ball deliberately."

Then again ...

"...when a player uses her hand at her side to control a ball that comes in at waist level or has time to reach out and touch a ball, then these clearly should be called. A good rule-of-thumb to use is if the player's hand comes to the ball, it is a foul. If the ball comes to the hand, it is not a foul."
posted by mrgrimm at 12:49 PM on November 19, 2009


No, wrong.

A handball becomes callable when it AFFECTS ADVANTAGE. It can be unintentional and get called if it affects advantage, it can be intentional and not get called if it doesn't affect advantage.

Advantage is the key determining factor in soccer calling. It's key for contact, key for handballs, key for lots of things.
posted by TomMelee at 12:52 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Those arguing against the introduction of technology will point out that it is not practical or financially feasible to have banks of cameras and additional officials at every association football game, the simple fact is that all games are not equal and when the stakes are high the officiating must be spot on.
The version of this argument I've heard and agree with is that you want to keep the game fundamentally the same whether you're playing on the local rec with a buch of fellow hung-over lardies or in front of 80,000 at the Stadium of Light™
posted by Abiezer at 12:53 PM on November 19, 2009


Who says he did it on purpose?
posted by no_moniker at 12:53 PM on November 19, 2009


Soccer to me has always had this mentality, it the player disagrees with the call, I've seen him give the ball up to the other team.

Er... do you actually watch soccer?

The only time players give the ball up to the other team is if the other team intentionally kicks the ball out to get medical help to some fallen player. Then they'll return the favor and give the ball back to the team that kicked it out. What you may have seen is something like this. In any other case, I haven't seen anyone giving the ball up because "they disagree with the call", at least not in the last 20 years.

As far as I've seen, fooling the referee is considered part of the sport, dropping yourself to dig a penalty call, stepping back to dig an offside call, rolling around crying if it just looks like the other guy touched you, etc, etc. Soccer is not a "gentleman's sport" as you'd like to believe. And most people I've met who like soccer (disclaimer: mostly Brazilians) consider cheating an integral part of soccer. If you meet a Brazilian who doesn't like the "Hand of God", you can be sure it's because it's Argentina, not because it's cheating.

Although I do believe most of the opposition is philosophical, there are a couple technical problems with instant replay as well: Problem 1 is that it's asymmetrical. Of course you can void a play if there's an infraction that the referee hadn't seen. It's not that easy to remedy when the referee makes a call he shouldn't, for example, in the middle of a counter-attack. In those cases the "shock and awe" is everything, if the ref stops the play and gives the other team time to process, even if they were able to restore everyone to their original positions, the play would be lost forever. This will certainly affect refs, probably making them more tolerant to avoid making bad calls (since omission can always be corrected).

The other problem is rhythm. American sports are all "staccato" - Play, stop, (commercials), play, stop, play. Soccer has a continuous flow - in the heat of the game as soon as the ref whistles, the guy will simply take the ball, put to the ground and kick immediately, wasting less than 2 seconds of game play. It's 45 minutes of gameplay with at most half a dozen major stops. If you get people requesting an instant replay at every call, it could break the flow.
posted by qvantamon at 12:55 PM on November 19, 2009


The fault here lies with the ref and linesman for missing the handball, and FIFA for not having video refs.

And not with the cheating player? Bizarre.


Not really. It's the player's responsibility to win, and the officials' responsibility to enforce the rules. I'm not saying it's a particularly pleasant ethic, but in high-stakes games like this, that's pretty much how it goes. Still, football doesn't even come close to rugby union for skullduggery.
posted by Bodd at 12:55 PM on November 19, 2009


I find it very interesting that whether it be FIFA, the SEC, the NBA, the NFL, baseball or boxing, a great many of these "the refs can't see everything" blown calls and controversies resolve in favor of the team or individual whose advancement means more money for the league in question and associated powerful bodies.

I think the "all the bad calls even out" line of reasoning applies only when two relatively equal teams meet. When a big market team meets a small market team, however, you rarely seem to hear of the smaller team "lucking" their way through to the next round or a title on a blatant call/non-call by the officials. Not saying it never happens, but it does seem to be comparatively rare.

And you know it's bad when ESPN has a headline that reads "Even SEC officials saw Henry's Hand" for one of their articles.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:56 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Really I'm not a fan of instant replay in soccer. Soccer's not like football, it's not a game of inches (most of the time), there's rarely any question about whether the ball breaks the plane or who touched who. There's a definite sort of charge in the air to see if a ref will call contact, and you (as a player) always hope you get the ref who calls nothing versus the one who calls everything.

There's no downs, no time outs, no real stop of motion for 45 minutes. There aren't any ref challenges. There's really very little that an instant-replay rule would help fix, and there's the potential there for it to really suck. I mean, when does it get called into play?
posted by TomMelee at 12:59 PM on November 19, 2009


In fact, it was Maradona who coined the term "hand of God"....


This was definitely cheating, the same as diving and faking injuries to stall. But it's evident that cheating is an integral part of professional football. Make of that what you will, but keep your instant replay out of the sport.
posted by sic at 12:59 PM on November 19, 2009


For all the talk of "hand of frog" in this thread, I've heard more people calling it "La main de Dieu".
posted by deadmessenger at 1:07 PM on November 19, 2009


...NBA both have adopted instant replay...
Ironically (depending on your definition and sense of irony), the NBA doesn't allow instant replay for the infraction of kicking the ball.
posted by joaquim at 1:11 PM on November 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


I really don't get it, I'm not trying to make a completely semantic argument. A handball is a foul that is defined in the rules. Even an intentional one. Would you consider intentionally tripping someone to be cheating?

I would say it's part of the game, and perhaps bad form, but also is done in order to, say, prevent a breakaway. Sure you may get a yellow or red card for it, but that's the tradeoff you make, and I definitely don't think of it as "cheating." I view an intentional handball the same way (and I'm not certain there was intent here, or at least not red card level intent).
posted by haveanicesummer at 1:13 PM on November 19, 2009


The most elegant solution I heard was that the referee should just ask the player what they did and go with it. If this later proves false the match is forfeited.
posted by Damienmce at 1:15 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I find it interesting that the coach of Ireland's team admits that they would have done the same thing had the places been switched. It speaks more to the "win at all costs" mentality in professional sports and it seems that fair play is considered an anachronism. Given the comments here about how professional sports players' jobs are to win and to bend the rules rather than to abide by them, it looks like the idea is now commonplace rather than an exception.

By subscribing to the idea that there is nothing more important than winning, professional sports teams and their fans should drop all pretense of the winners being the best at the game and just cop to celebrating the best at gaming the system.
posted by ooga_booga at 1:23 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Two points raised above but un-answered; How would replay work in a game with no stoppages in play? Play continues while the video judge reviews the tape, nullifying the last X minutes if play needs to be overturned?

And second, the people complaining about cheating are making me laugh when you consider all the fake injuries in football. The falling like they've been shot, then furtively looking around to see if the ref saw the play, and if not hopping back up.
posted by Keith Talent at 1:38 PM on November 19, 2009


mrgrimm: Maradona wasn't offside, for what it's worth. It was an England player who kicked the ball in the air for Diego to, aaah, "head" over the goalkeeper.
posted by pjm at 1:41 PM on November 19, 2009


People who think it's up to players to break the rules as much as they can get away with may understand showbiz, but they have a very thin and dull conception of sport.
posted by Phanx at 1:43 PM on November 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


No, wrong. A handball becomes callable when it AFFECTS ADVANTAGE.

I believe MrGrimm meant not that the infraction should not be called (clearly it must be called), but rather that Henry should not be vilified after the fact for what could have been anything from a momentary lapse of reason to a tenth of a second reflex.

Call it, get the call right, use video if you have to... but then move on and don't crucify the guy.

In terms of clearly-deliberate infractions, it's certainly not in the class of Ms. Lambert, right?
posted by rokusan at 1:44 PM on November 19, 2009


There's another element to this I forgot to mention: According to many comments, and this article (I haven't searched for others), two French players were offside when the free kick that sparked all this took place. Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern even mentions it in his (misguided?) appeal to play the match over:

"Millions of people worldwide saw it was a blatant double hand ball, not to mention a double offside," Ahern said. "We should put the powers that be in the cozy world of FIFA on the spot and demand a replay."

Make of that what you will.

I personally think the linesman should've asked Henry re: the handball (per Damienmce's comment above). I'm guessing it would've been pretty hard for him to deny it, even without wider consequences for not telling the truth. Then again, if fooling the referee is indeed "considered part of the sport," as qvantamon says, maybe he just would've lied.
posted by lovermont at 1:48 PM on November 19, 2009


Please please please let this lead to Raymond Domenech being fired as the French national team's coach.

Stop reading my mind, Kattullus. I would have rather seen good ole "Strunz!" Trapattoni at the World Cup than that irritating idiot Domenech.

posted by romakimmy at 1:56 PM on November 19, 2009


However, intentionally breaking the rules = cheating.

That's a really stupid position to take. What about intentional fouls in basketball?
posted by Perplexity at 2:00 PM on November 19, 2009


Happy the Irish arent going. I'd rather see France at the World Cup than that bunch.
posted by the cuban at 2:00 PM on November 19, 2009


The coach of Ireland admits as much, but yeah, nearly every player would try to have gotten away with it, on either side of the field. I wouldn't say it's win at any costs, though. We're not likely to see a Last Boyscout situation (and with any luck, unlikely to see the Last Boyscout, if cable stations are kind). In pickup basketball, the group I played with always played call your own foul, and it always worked. Pickup games are just for fun, and it's nice if you win. In professional sports, there are people paid to enforce the rules, and, as in most situations in life where there's someone watching people to make sure they don't cheat, if you put enough money/import on the line, people will do all that they can to get away with whatever they're able.

Watching the youtube video (as hypnotic as Homer's fat jiggling), it doesn't remotely look like something planned or thought out. Granted, Henry's reaction time is faster than that of other, lesser, mortal men, but it seemed inadvertent. It just so happened that he was next to the goal with he did it.

Last, obligatory dig at soccer: In football, there's a reason players will pick up the ball off the ground and run towards the endzone. Players play until the whistle sounds. If the Irish team played like that, perhaps there wouldn't have been a goal.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:01 PM on November 19, 2009


I would be completely against any stoppage unless the ref calls something. I agree with those that say it would disrupt the flow of a soccer game if you constantly stopped and reviewed something on replay. Just wouldn't work. All it would do is ruin it.
However, what about an alternative solution? Just like you have line men on the lines you could have a line man in the sky. Have cameras track the ball. Have a 3rd line man watch that feed and "raise his flag" (some sort of whistle or other signal to the referee) just like the others do. Then if the referee calls it it's just like any other call in soccer without challenges/replay demands etc).
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:01 PM on November 19, 2009


Actually, it could be a visual signal just like the line man's flag. Maybe some sort of visual signal in all corners so the referee can't miss it.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 2:03 PM on November 19, 2009


The ball's in the net. The flow of the game is interrupted. Take 30 seconds and check it was a legal goal.
posted by IanMorr at 2:09 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


How would replay work in a game with no stoppages in play? Play continues while the video judge reviews the tape, nullifying the last X minutes if play needs to be overturned?

What would happen essentially is that after a contentious incident, if one team were appealing for a video replay, that play would continue either until the ball went out of play or the team who were appealing got possession of the ball in a non-attacking position and put the ball out of play themselves; if that couldn't happen, as last resort, the ref could blow the whistle when neither team had the ball in an advantageous position and resume with a drop ball after the video review.

It is a manageable thing & the reason it hasn't been brought in is nothing to do with it being inconvenient. We already have people reviewing replays for TV companies within moments of action and we could certainly have an answer to most controversy within an acceptable timeframe. The reason it hasn't been adopted are varied but (apparently) include: respecting the primacy of the ref; a wish for the laws of the game to be the same from the world cup finals to Hackney Marshes; and the fact that even video evidence is not always definitive & often just outsources a controversial decision to someone else who wasn't even on the field of play at the time.
posted by criticalbill at 2:14 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


How would replay work in a game with no stoppages in play?

There are stoppages of play, on goals and throw-ins.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:15 PM on November 19, 2009


Last, obligatory dig at soccer: In football, there's a reason players will pick up the ball off the ground and run towards the endzone. Players play until the whistle sounds. If the Irish team played like that, perhaps there wouldn't have been a goal.

Out of interest, how is that a dig at soccer football? Players in football are also supposed to play until the whistle sounds. If the Irish had, perhaps there wouldn't have been a goal. But then we'd have been spared the sound of a thousand Plastic Paddies melting in apoplexy.
posted by criticalbill at 2:18 PM on November 19, 2009


@zippy: I realize it's not going to happen, but I'd love it if players would call it when they screw up. I think that would show real sportsmanship.

That's because you're not watching a sport in which sportsmanship is a value. Ultimate Frisbee considers "spirit of the game" a value and requires that:
Self-Refereeing -- Players are responsible for their own foul and line calls. Players resolve their own disputes.
posted by A-Train at 2:19 PM on November 19, 2009


The version of this argument I've heard and agree with is that you want to keep the game fundamentally the same whether you're playing on the local rec with a buch of fellow hung-over lardies or in front of 80,000 at the Stadium of Light™

It's not the same though, no use pretending it is.

If FIFA want to avoid the mythical "slowing down of the game," then the least they could do is introduce retrospective punishment which utilises video evidence, as they weakly attempted to over the Eduardo incident. The referee can listen to opposition complaints, approach the offending player and put him on the spot, ask him to come clean or offer his version of events. If he gives an account of the disputed event that is later proven by tv pictures to be false, a fine and a significant ban for bringing the game into disrepute, or something heavier.
posted by fire&wings at 2:20 PM on November 19, 2009


Two of the French Players were offside (note, no S on the end there) when the ball was initially played in. I believe Henry was one of them, meaning he was - or became - active in the play when the ball reached him. Henry handled the ball twice to control it, and knocked it over to Gallas to score. The assistant referee (used to be called a linesman when I played) was directly in line with play for the initial offside non-call. Given the angle of play, I can see how the officials didn't see Henry's hand ball, but I can't for the life of me see how the initial offside wasn't spotted.

Michel Platini is a former captain of the French National side, and was a great, great player. He is now the President of UEFA - the European governing body of the sport. He therefore has a major influence with FIFA - the global governing body, who are in charge of the World Cup and it's qualifying rounds. The way the qualification in Europe worked was that after the initial qualifying rounds were complete, the 8 best second-placed teams from the qualifying groups would be drawn to play, and the four winners of those matches would proceed to the World Cup finals.

When the results of the qualifying groups became known a month or so ago, and when it became clear that global powerhouses such as France and Portugal had only finished second in their respective groups and thus faced the lottery of maybe even being drawn against each other or another highly ranked team, FIFA announced that the second place playoffs would be seeded according to each nation's FIFA ranking. Teams like France and Portugal naturally then avoided each other. Ireland protested with vigour, knowing that the fix was in. It should be pointed out that FIFA had done this in the past, but this time around had not announced the seeding arrangement beforehand. Lo and behold, Ireland then drew France in the two legged playoff, which was decided by one of the more obviously bad refereeing decisions in recent memory. It is being compared to Maradonna's Hand of God moment even on ESPN's Mike and Mike show which usually derides soccer. They even called for replay in Football this morning - using the term "football" for the obvious confusion it would engender in their listeners. Of course there's replay in Football.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 2:21 PM on November 19, 2009


Why Curling is my Favorite Sport: Curling is my favorite sport because in 2002 I watched the men's Olympic gold medal match between Canada and Norway on television. At one point in this match, one of the Norwegian curlers accidentally nudged one of the Canadian stones with his foot, moving it out of place. Rather than appealing to the referee to determine the original position of the stone, the skips of the two teams worked it out themselves based on how they remembered the placement before the incident. While they did this, the announcers explained that, although there is a referee present at curling matches, they sit too far away from the sheet to be able to resolve situations like this.

So, the Canadian skip goes "I think it was over here," the Norwegian one says "mm... I remember it being over there," they come to a compromise, the Norwegian skip goes "wait, wait, I think it was over here!" and puts it way, way away from the center of the house (the curling term for the target they slide the stones toward), everyone laughs, they put the stone back at the position they agreed on, and play continues.

Gold Medal match at the Olympics.

And that is why curling is my favorite sport. Thank you for reading!
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:27 PM on November 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


And I agree with some of the above - Baseball just last year introduced video replay for fair/foul calls and questionable home runs. Alex Rodriguez was correctly awarded a home run in the World Series a couple of weeks ago as a result. Allowing or disallowing goals in football/soccer would, in my opinion, be similarly easy. Funnily enough the referees union thinks that having more referees at each game would be a better solution.

Call me a plastic paddy to my face and I'll be smiting you you with my shillelagh whilst swigging from a bottle of Irish Mist.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 2:37 PM on November 19, 2009


I think it is quite awful that by cheating, one team wins. I'm not trying to be overly dramatic here, but it does not send a good message to society when one sees that by cheating one can win. I don't see why a player would not tell the ref after such a significant goal is scored, that he used his hand. If nothing else, it will help him from not being vilified in Ireland, and preserve his integrity in France. I imagine if he ever played Ireland again it would be 90 minutes of continuous booing.

Interestingly, a Le Monde survey shows that 87.6% of people felt Ireland deserved to win (first question).
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 2:43 PM on November 19, 2009


It wasn't a hand-ball.
posted by doublehappy at 2:49 PM on November 19, 2009


Now that the Australians are getting up... I find it interesting to compare with cricket. I've only been watching for a few years, but the issue of whether or not a batsman should "walk" is divisive. Adam Gilchrist famously walked in the cricket World Cup. (In baseball terms, imagine the batter has a full count and the umpire calls a ball. The batter knows it's a strike, so the batter walks back to the dugout and gives himself the out.) Test cricket originated as a "gentleman's game," so many fans respect fair play more than winning. There are those who agree with most of the soccer fans here though, that anything you get away with is just part of the game.
posted by web-goddess at 3:00 PM on November 19, 2009


The idea that top level professional sports exists in a manner that's different from any other walk of life is delusional. When there's money at stake, there's always temptation present. There's plenty of reason to believe that even those sports where players call foul on themselves, such as golf or snooker, also have their fair share of dubious player conduct. The rationalisations are quick and easy. "We should have had a penalty earlier", "their centre-half has been kicking me all game", "their goal was offside". The reason we have referees is that players can't be trusted to behave impeccably in the heat of the moment (and some even with aforethought).
At the same time, we have to understand that referees are only human, too. We've all seen matches in any sport you care to name where world class players have an absolute stinker. Referees are just the same. All you can do is train them as well as you can and hope the mistakes are kept at a minimum.
I don't think video refereeing is the way forward, at least in football. As has been mentioned upthread, the flow of the game does not lend itself to pauses for review. Additionally, many of the most contentious decisions are debatable, even with video review. There's many a Saturday evening in the pub where you'll hear arguments about whether or not there should have been a penalty in the match earlier, even after it's been shown in slow motion from ten angles. Technology should be limited to matters of fact. Was the ball over the line, or not? That's an objective fact. Was it a foul? Often that's not.
posted by Jakey at 3:07 PM on November 19, 2009


No, wrong. A handball becomes callable when it AFFECTS ADVANTAGE.

No, you are wrong. At least according to FIFA.

I believe MrGrimm meant not that the infraction should not be called (clearly it must be called), but rather that Henry should not be vilified after the fact for what could have been anything from a momentary lapse of reason to a tenth of a second reflex.

No, you are wrong too. ;) I was just saying intent has everything to do it. I could care less if Henry is vilified. He's a tough guy. He can take it.

That advantage matters is a popular misconception when it comes to handballs.

See the FIFA laws of the game. (PDF)

Notable sections

* Direct Free Kick - page 32
* Handling the ball - page 111

I see nothing about handballs and advantage. (I do realize that FIFA rules are not the rules for all soccer, but in this case they obviously apply.)

All that matter is whether or not the handling is deliberate:

A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any
of the following three offences:

• holds an opponent
• spits at an opponent
• handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own
penalty area


C'est tout.

From my previous link:

Let me also emphasize that nowhere does the rule book say anything about whether or not the player gains an advantage by the ball hitting his or her hand. In other words, even if the ball were to hit a player's arm and drop right at his feet or even were to go directly into his opponents' goal, these are not fouls if they were unintentional acts.

Admittedly, I also think that advantage should be considered, but it is not, at least not according to the rules.

On replay ...

As has been mentioned upthread, the flow of the game does not lend itself to pauses for review.

After goals it certainly does. Just give the officials 2 minutes to review while the players celebrate and/or walk back to midfield.

I think the NHL is a good comparison. It has a quick, fluid nature as well. The referees uses video review sparingly and to usually good effect.

Additionally, many of the most contentious decisions are debatable, even with video review.

Some, sure, but I don't know if I'd say many. Do you think this case was debatable?
posted by mrgrimm at 3:17 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nick Verstayne's comment is interesting, one of the Irish players also felt that the deck was stacked against them.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 3:19 PM on November 19, 2009


Also, from my above link, Henry has admitted it was a handball.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 3:21 PM on November 19, 2009


Yeah, I saw that. The only way it wasn't one is if he is unclear on the rule. ^_^
posted by mrgrimm at 3:36 PM on November 19, 2009


Dude, I'm telling you. I don't know how much you watch the game, but lots of fouls are called on advantage. That's half the excitement of seeing if the ref makes the call or not, he's deciding how/if it affects advantage (minus some specific fouls, of course.) That's why we coach our players to NEVER STOP until you hear the whistle.

When illegal contact is made, linesman generally has the duty of raising his flag to indicate a foul has been committed in his line of site, play continues until advantage is lost and then the ref blows his whistle---exactly like basketball to some extent. If advantage isn't lost, or if the ref decides it was incidental contact or w/e, play continues.

This is more true in, say, a bouncing ball that brushes a hand versus a reach-out-and-slap-it ball, egregious fouls are generally called regardless of advantage. It's why you're legally allowed to cover your balls and boobs when walling up for a free kick and not worry about getting called for a handball when it hits you, but why you can't shoulder the ball into the net. (Incidentally, in MY indoor league shoulders are legal. Drives me NUTS.)

That's why, when you watch these brutal ass international games, you'll see contact that's SO flagrant but there's no call, because the tackle was clean, in that it obtained the ball OR the person being tackled comes out of it with the ball, or it rolls to his player, or w/e.

They even say it when they sportscast it. "Oh there was a foul" "aye right but e's still got the ball, looks like it's a shot for 'im!". Etc.
posted by TomMelee at 3:43 PM on November 19, 2009


France*

(I'm pretty sure that says it all. Karma will even this out)
posted by stonesy at 3:51 PM on November 19, 2009


just as a small all thing, imagine the outcry had ireland won on a handball?
posted by knockoutking at 4:08 PM on November 19, 2009


a womble, the links in the 2nd-to-last paragraph of the post demonstrate that sentiment wasn't Dunne's alone. Goalkeeper Shay Given thought it suspect the seeding decision came when it did, and Asst Mgr Brady was concerned the "preferential treatment" given to high-profile countries in seeding the playoffs would influence the refereeing of the matches. The way they saw it, FIFA was essentially trying to guarantee the big moneymakers would be in the tournament. Whether or not FIFA had any role in how the referee and linesmen did their jobs, I have a feeling the calls made (or not made) yesterday won't do anything to allay their concerns.
posted by lovermont at 4:11 PM on November 19, 2009


> The last thing I'd like to see is the flow of the game disrupted...

I have a hard time seeing how the occasional video review could possibly disrupt the flow of the game more than the constant flopping. I say this as someone who voraciously watches the World and Euro Cups and really wants to love the game...but the diving drives me fucking nuts. FIFA should bring in a rule like the one in American football where if you're (ostensibly) too injured to stand up and continue play, you have to leave the field for a specified amount of time (I believe it's one play in the NFL). That would probably cut down on the number of agonizing "injuries" these guys seem to recover from instantly once the opposing player has been carded.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:14 PM on November 19, 2009


Of course, if Keane or Duff had put away either of their sitters, this wouldn't be an issue at all. Hands up, those of you who saw those misses and didn't think Ireland would pay for not taking their chances?

Ireland were the better team on the night, no question in my mind (I also thought they were the better team in the first leg, for what it's worth), but you still need to finish, and they didn't. If they'd gone through thanks to a similar goal, they'd be shrugging and cheering, and not one of them would have expressed the slightest hint of remorse. Certainly, Robbie Keane was doing his level best to create a similar goal; only difference is that he's as crap at cheating as he is at most everything else. He did take a very nice goal, though, I'll give him that.

I also award outrage points for it happening to an English-speaking nation. If Arshavin had done the same thing to put Russia through against Slovenia last night, you could measure the total number of column inches thus provoked on both hands.

That's not intended to dismiss the suffering of Irish fans. I still wail and gnash my teeth about Ballack's handball off the line against the US in WC 2002 and I still want him to burn eternally for it. But that's football, or professional football at the very least. The referees are absolutely to blame -- you'd think someone would have seen one of the two handballs or have noticed that the only attacking player not offside was a centre-back, for heaven's sake -- but so it goes.

Hilarious that the Irish are now now commiserating with England over the Hand of God. No more "snide remarks and cynicism" now, eh, boys?
posted by Errant at 4:20 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm a little disgusted that many people here agree that he should get away with whatever he can get away with, and seem to think it laughable that a sportsman would fess up to a violation before being challenged. "It's the ref's job to catch egregious fouls like that, it's Henry's job to win."

When I was in university this situation happened to me in the NCAA Western Regionals in epee (fencing), after I qualified for the finals bracket. So this was the last day of the last tournament of my fencing career. I scored a touch on my opponent's foot, but actually it didn't hit his foot hard enough to score, and the light only went off when the tip of my sword hit the ground. No one but me knew this, not even my opponent, and the director (referee) scored it for me.

I didn't even have to think, I just waved off the touch and told them what happened, BECAUSE THAT"S WHAT FUCKING SPORTS IS ABOUT! I ended up losing the match, fair and square, but I had a lot of fun. Interestingly, the only team that could be counted on to cheat every chance they got was Air Force Academy, which makes a big deal about their Code of Honor or whatever bullshit they call it.
posted by planetkyoto at 4:33 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


planetkyoto, you're comparing fencing with soccer. That's like saying "Why is anyone accepting one hockey player punching the other? When I played chess, that never happened".

Casual violence is part of hockey. Casual cheating is part of soccer. One of the reasons why (international) soccer doesn't fly in the US is exactly because Americans can't wrap their minds around a sport (or call it entertainment if you don't want to call it sport) that is not absolutely 100% totally about fairness.

You know those poker games in movies where both players are cheating, and they know there's cheating in the game, but as long as one doesn't catch the other, it's considered fair (normally the scene will end with the loser going to the winner and asking "so, how did you do that?", and the winner going "yeah, I totally cheated like this...", and then they both walk away, the result being considered legitimate by both parties).

So... yeah, on a spectrum between totally fair and that, most American sports would be on the totally fair end, or aspire to that spot, where soccer is a bit more on the "cheating is acceptable if you're not caught" part of the spectrum. If you review that game, you'll find a fair share of dives, uncalled fouls, grabbing, etc. The whole hubbub about this one is not that Henry cheated, is that he cheated so blatantly that it was obvious. Back to the poker analysis, it's not because he took an ace out of his sleeve, it's because his winning hand (huhuh) was five aces.
posted by qvantamon at 5:06 PM on November 19, 2009


A couple observations:

1) The above text is more about club championships than the World Cup. The World Cup DOES have a higher standard of fairness - but still, most people who follow soccer are analyzing this in the mental framework of regular soccer games.

2) I'm not saying "this is how soccer is supposed to be played, silly Americans". What I'm saying is "this is how the current soccer audience expects it to be played". If American soccer championships want to be successful in the US, they'll have to go obsessive about fairness (even if it means schisming from FIFA to make referee decisions not final), because that's what American audiences want. But this is the World Cup, a competition where American audiences don't have a lot of influence. And the audience that DOES have influence over international soccer expects some of the fairness to be sacrificed for making the game more "playful"
posted by qvantamon at 5:19 PM on November 19, 2009


What I'm saying is "this is how the current soccer audience expects it to be played".

This is an absurd statement on all levels. If you look closely, a huge portion of the commentary about how this is bullshit is coming from soccer-loving countries.

Americans can't wrap their minds around a sport (or call it entertainment if you don't want to call it sport)

I mean, seriously?
posted by inigo2 at 5:42 PM on November 19, 2009


I ended up losing the match, fair and square, but I had a lot of fun.

This precisely summarizes the difference between amateur and professional athletics, or, indeed, amateur and professional athletes. Ask a professional athlete when the last time they had fun losing was.

I don't think it's laughable to think that a sportsman would acknowledge an officiating error and correct it. It happens, if not with regularity, at least often enough to be heard-of, and it's usually commended widely when it does happen. But, honestly, until FIFA overhaul their completely archaic view of officiating, this is neither the first nor the last injustice that will cost a team millions of Euros, glory, perhaps even their very existence as a side or club.

I'm making it sound like I don't feel for Ireland, and I do. But qualifying campaigns are not ultimately won or lost on the back of a single goal. The Guardian explains better than I can, and presciently, from their Ireland v Italy match report:

"But it was abundantly clear that Ireland will be knocked out of the World Cup in their two-legged play-off tie if they cannot stop throwing away leads. It has been the curse of Irish football over the years and, in this campaign alone, they have done it five times, although they did recover to beat Cyprus in Nicosia."

They did it again last night, and they paid the price. All of this sound and fury is because it is much easier to have a pantomime villain than to examine one's own flaws, and for all Ireland's truly inspired play last night, they were on course for the penalty shootout lottery thanks to poor finishing and sacrificing a lead once again. It's not even like they were winning when "that goal" happened. So, please, can we stop with the moralizing, because if it were your team and your player, you'd be through the roof with delight at qualifying.

On preview:

If you look closely, a huge portion of the commentary about how this is bullshit is coming from soccer-loving countries.

Again, I submit that if this had happened to Slovenia and not to Ireland, an English-speaking nation with many former players in high-profile media roles, we wouldn't even be talking about it right now, certainly not on Metafilter.
posted by Errant at 5:58 PM on November 19, 2009


I'm a little disgusted that many people here agree that he should get away with whatever he can get away with, and seem to think it laughable that a sportsman would fess up to a violation before being challenged.

When I was in kindergarten, we had some kind of track meet. Various moms helped out coaching the teams. In some event or other, our team won but I knew we'd somehow cheated (I have no memory of the specifics), so like the good, honest little boy I'd been conditioned to be, I raised my hand and said, "Excuse me but we cheated and didn't deserve to win that event."

The thing I still remember (more than forty years later now) is the look I got from the mom who was coaching our team. She was pissed off at me.

Lesson learned. It's a law of our culture (if not the jungle): get away with whatever you can. Thanks Mrs. Whatever-your-name-was.
posted by philip-random at 6:03 PM on November 19, 2009


Well, Fifa played a game a second time between two non-english speaking countries after a mistake: "The FAI has cited a 2006 World Cup qualification between Uzbekistan and Bahrain, which was replayed after Japanese referee Toshimitsu Yoshida made a technical error in ordering a free out after disallowing a penalty when an attacking player encroached."*

I agree that there would be less internet chat about it if neither country spoke english. But one does, and that happens to be on of the dominate languages online.

For the record, I'm irish and not too bothered about soccer in general, but disappointed that we went out this way.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 6:15 PM on November 19, 2009


If you look closely, a huge portion of the commentary about how this is bullshit is coming from soccer-loving countries.

define "commentary about how this is bullshit".

How many of those are saying Henry should have been honest and walked to the ref and said "Oh hi, that was with my hand!"?*

Some commentators might be calling for a review of instant-replay regulations, some might be calling for a rematch (although I don't believe even those would be a majority), but I'd guess very few of them are questioning that what Henry did was absurdly anti-ethical, completely out of what is expected of a soccer player.

I think you misread "expects". What I meant is - this is the reality of how it is played, and the audience is used to this reality. They may not like or want it, but they expect it. I expect congressmen to porkbarrel the hell out of bills. Do I like it? no. But I expect it. They're still assholes for doing it, and I'd still change that if I could, but it's nonetheless expected.

Maybe the majority of soccer spectators don't want cheating. But they expect it. If a player plays that way, he's an asshole, but it isn't an inconceivable (huhuh) horror to the sport. And Henry fessing up to that would be as popular as a Nebraska congressman vetting a bill because it has an earmark adding tax-exemption for corn.

* Actually, now that I think if it, maybe that would have been useless anyway. As far as I remember, referee decisions are final. If Jesus came down on the field and told the ref it was a hand-ball, if the ref had already called the goal, it's a goal. I do remember a case a few years ago which was almost like that (in that it was really obvious to the ref moments after the play that the goal should be void), but yet he couldn't recall it. But this might have been changed, or be a regional thing.
posted by qvantamon at 6:24 PM on November 19, 2009


Me can't write clear. I took 4 paragraphs and on review my explanation still sucks. In summary: "the audience expects X" meant "X is not unexpected to the audience", as in "It's not unexpected to anyone when congressmen pork up bills"
posted by qvantamon at 6:34 PM on November 19, 2009


FIFA should bring in a rule like the one in American football where if you're (ostensibly) too injured to stand up and continue play, you have to leave the field for a specified amount of time

They do after a fashion. If a play is stopped for an injury, they have to leave the field and can only return after play has started. It's not a specific time period though. It is a relatively recent rule I believe. I remember at watching Columbia at Italia 90 (iirc) and a player spent about 5 minutes on the ground because the ref thought he was faking it (he absolutely was too).

Separately, I despise cheating in football. It's not a normal part of the game and ruins it imo. Maybe it's a cultural thing. At least one piece in the Guardian points out that it's not unknown for players to do the right thing.
posted by idb at 7:52 PM on November 19, 2009


There are general rules of Advantage which, while not specified within the handling section of the rules linked, apply to the play of the game. I just cut and pasted from the rules:

The Referee:
allows play to continue when the team against which an offence has been committed will benefit from such an advantage and penalises the original offence if the anticipated advantage does not ensue at that time.

The assistant referee must use the “wait and see technique” in order to allow play to continue and not raise his flag when the team against which an offence has been committed will benefit from the advantage. In this case, it is very important for the assistant referee to make eye contact with the referee.

Also, it has to be deliberate contact of the hand, not just incidental contact (so intent is important):

Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with his hand or arm. The referee must take the following into consideration:
• the movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
• the distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)
• the position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an infringement

And, should this offense (The Hand of God) been detected, it technically should have resulted in a disciplinary sanction:

Disciplinary sanctions
There are circumstances when a caution for unsporting behaviour is required when a player deliberately handles the ball, e.g. when a player:
• deliberately and blatantly handles the ball to prevent an opponent gaining possession
attempts to score a goal by deliberately handling the ball
posted by misha at 8:20 PM on November 19, 2009


It wasn't a hand ball. If it isn't called, it didn't happen.

In the 1986 World Cup, Argentina beat England 2 - 1. Diego Maradona scored two goals. Terry Fenwick and Sergio Batista were yellow-carded.

I know this because FIFA keep reliable records of games played.
posted by doublehappy at 8:43 PM on November 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


This entire problem is caused by the fact that goals are so difficult to score in soccer, that even one possibly cheatey goal can decide an entire hour-and-a-half of play.

What they should do is extend the goal indefinitely upwards - say, with a pair of tall poles instead of the current rectangle - and allow near-misses to each side of the goal to receive some kind of compensation points.

Six points for a goal through the centre, and one point for a near miss on either side sounds like an ideal solution.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:53 PM on November 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


When I've watched or played soccer I've routinely seen players dive to the ground feigning injuries in order to draw fouls (and hopefully cards) on their opponents.

I've also routinely seen and experienced players grab a bit of jersey to hold up an opponent.

Players also will occasionally deliberately wander offside in hope of getting the break without a flag.

In none of those situations have I seen players then stop play, indicate to the ref that they were cheating and volunteer their own foul.

I don't see this as any more egregious cheating than a striker who goes down dramatically in the penalty box by a feather touch to draw the penalty shot. It isn't the nicest or most moral way to win the game, but at the international level I think it is a bit absurd to think it isn't part of the sport.

Also, like in most sports, if one team is clearly dominating and has been scoring more goals, this sort of thing picks at the margins but doesn't determine the outcome of a game. If you aren't able to put the game away you run the risk of this outcome. Part of sport is overcoming (or not) the unfair sometimes.
posted by meinvt at 9:11 PM on November 19, 2009


This precisely summarizes the difference between amateur and professional athletics, or, indeed, amateur and professional athletes. Ask a professional athlete when the last time they had fun losing was.

"People are too hung up on winning. I can get off on a really good helmet throw."

--Bill "Spaceman" Lee
posted by pelham at 9:16 PM on November 19, 2009


If a play is stopped for an injury, they have to leave the field and can only return after play has started.

AND the referee has given them permission to re-enter the pitch.
posted by inigo2 at 9:41 PM on November 19, 2009


Six points for a goal through the centre, and one point for a near miss on either side sounds like an ideal solution.
Maybe they should make the shorts dubiously too-tight as well, and only be able to play internationals by getting the Irish to agree to some bastard set of rules that are neither fish nor fowl? Don't think we don't see through your creeping Antipodean agenda here!
posted by Abiezer at 9:46 PM on November 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


How many of those are saying Henry should have been honest and walked to the ref and said "Oh hi, that was with my hand!"?*

I mean, I'm not gonna go searching on the webs, but they are definitely out there; here's one from the Guardian: it could be argued that an element of reflex was involved. But in the few seconds that followed, Henry had two options. He could pretend that he had not broken the most basic law of outfield play. Or he could take the opportunity to neutralise the effect of his reflexes. To erase an error. To right a wrong. To be a man.

I think the American reporting is less "he should've told the truth!" and more "where's the instant replay", anyway, so (at least to me) your point is moot.

There's also the (non-Americans) that have thought Henry has been an assbag for a while now, eg this article from 2007.
posted by inigo2 at 9:57 PM on November 19, 2009


I think it would have been easy for the ref to just ask Henry : "did you just handball it ?"

That said, as a french guy - what a terrible game - Ireland really deserved to win.

I liked Barry Glendenning's comment in the minute by minute : "The referee had been excellent up to that point, but now he's kicked the whole nation of Ireland in the bollocks."

Also nthing kattullus - really hope Domenech will go...
posted by motdiem2 at 12:57 AM on November 20, 2009


Oh there's hundreds of English newspaper columnists saying that Henry should have fessed up, but not that many professional footballers...
posted by criticalbill at 4:14 AM on November 20, 2009


Arseblogger, an Irish Arsenal fan, has written a couple of on-the-money posts on this, and today he quotes a match report from Ireland's WC qualiifier against Georgia in February:

A long ball found its way to Robbie Keane who seemed to control the ball with his hand only for the referee to let play continue. The ball was then cleared but only as far as Kevin Doyle as it deflected off the Waterford man and into the path of Ucha Lobjanidze. The referee then gave a shrill blast of his whistle for what appeared to be an offside by Keane.

Instead to everyones surprise, Hyytia pointed to the penalty spot and deemed Lobjanidze to have handled the ball. Replays showed that Keane had handled the ball in the lead-up to this decision and that Keane was also offside as play continued.


Footage: here
Outrage: um, hmmm
posted by criticalbill at 4:18 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Indeed criticallbill, the nuances are interesting. It's understandable that Arsenal fans - even Irish ones - would have a slightly more forgiving take on their beloved former player. And if they can drag Robbie Keane (current captain of Ireland and long time servant of hated local rivals Tottenham) through the mud while they are at it, that's all the better.

Probably Ireland's greatest ever player Roy Keane (no relation) is crying in the papers this morning because the Football Association of Ireland were mean to him back in the day, and figures it's a deserved comeuppance for them.
posted by Nick Verstayne at 4:40 AM on November 20, 2009


Just take the refs out of the game. There. Enjoy.

Seriously, in soccer the refs and the interplay between the refs and the players are simply part of the game itself. The Laws state that the referee is "part of the field". It's completely, totally different from American Football in concept, rhythm, and execution. It's part of what makes soccer so elegant.

If you want bickering and armchair lawyering, watch American Football. I love American Football. But it annoys the shit out of me sometimes. Especially when video replay fails. What next? Subpoenas for the ref team? Viewer voting for calls? Post game fines for in game fouls?

One thing about video replay for soccer is...when would you implement video based sanctions? The next stoppage in play? That could be a long, long time. What happens if the fouled team makes a goal in the interim? Call the goal back? Soccer is linear - nothing happens that isn't predicated on something that happened just before, and the chain of effect starts from the opening kick.

Leave futbol alone. The refs are there to make the game as fair as is humanly possible. They are not there to make it perfect. Thierry got away with it. He could still have gotten away with it in a video replay system - just watch American Football. Happens all the time.

IAASR - I am a soccer referee. So perhaps I am biased.
posted by Xoebe at 5:16 AM on November 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Now this was cheating!
posted by haveanicesummer at 8:15 AM on November 20, 2009


Six points for a goal through the centre, and one point for a near miss on either side sounds like an ideal solution.

Even easier. Just make it 2 points for a goal goal, and 1 point for anything off the rim (goalposts or crossbar). If you're deep in the hole (and deadly accurate), knock a few off the posts, then put the rebound in the back of the net for 4 points!

One thing about video replay for soccer is...when would you implement video based sanctions? The next stoppage in play? That could be a long, long time.

If you want to make it simple, only use video review for goals and penalty kicks. Play is already stopped. Another 2 minutes to confirm a goal (half of which is usually spent celebrating) and a minute to confirm an awarded penalty kick.

Goals and PKs are rare enough that video reviews would hardly affect the length of matches. Most reviews are not debatable at all, and would take 5-10 seconds. The ones that are, well, the extra minutes are worth it for the validation, imo.

What happens if the fouled team makes a goal in the interim?

I can't think of that many video-review situations that wouldn't entail some sort of stoppage or slowage (?) of play. I don't see video review as a way to make calls that weren't called. I think all video review would have to be predicated on a stoppage (free kick, goal kick, corner kick, throw in, goal).

Anyway, I see no reason why every goal and penalty kick couldn't be reviewed by video with little disruption to the game (aside from hurt feelings).

Now this was cheating!

Seriously. And people are mad about a missed handball call?
posted by mrgrimm at 8:43 AM on November 20, 2009


Roy Keane is the voice of reason here.

"They can complain all they want but France are going to the World Cup. Get over it."

"If I'd been there in the dressing room after the game, I wouldn't be talking about the handball. I'd focus on why the defenders didn't clear it. They should've cleared it."

"I'd be more annoyed with my defenders and my goalkeeper than Thierry Henry. How can you let the ball bounce in your six-yard box? How can you let Thierry Henry get goal-side of you? If the ball goes into the six-yard box, where the hell is my goalkeeper? These are skills and lessons you learn as a schoolboy."

"Ireland had their chances in the two games and they never took them but it's the usual FAI (Football Association of Ireland) reaction - 'we've been robbed, the honesty of the game...' It's rubbish."
posted by Zambrano at 9:43 AM on November 20, 2009


Roy Keane is the voice of reason here.
And in no way bears a grudge against the FAI! Friend on another board said 'Cork-Dublin civil war, here we go' on seeing that.
posted by Abiezer at 9:48 AM on November 20, 2009


LONDON — Thierry Henry denied Friday that he was a cheat but said the "fairest solution" would be to replay the France-Ireland World Cup playoff that was decided by his hand ball.

Henry set up the deciding goal for William Gallas by controlling the ball with his hand in Wednesday's 1-1 draw at the Stade de France. The goal in extra time gave France a spot in next year's World Cup with a 2-1 aggregate victory over Ireland after two legs of the playoffs.

"Of course the fairest solution would be to replay the game but it is not in my control," Henry said in a a statement.

Earlier Friday, world governing body FIFA rejected a request by the Football Association of Ireland for the game to be replayed.

Henry admitted he handled the ball and felt embarrassed at how France qualified for the World Cup at the expense of Ireland.

"I have said at the time and I will say again that yes I handled the ball," he said in the statement issued to British media. "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."

"I have never denied that the ball was controlled with my hand," Henry said. "I told the Irish players, the referee and the media this after the game."

The Barcelona striker expressed sympathy for the Irish.

"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," he said. "There is little more I can do apart from admit that the ball had contact with my hand leading up to our equalizing goal and I feel very sorry for the Irish," he said.
AP story.
posted by Kattullus at 9:51 AM on November 20, 2009


It's understandable that Arsenal fans - even Irish ones - would have a slightly more forgiving take on their beloved former player. And if they can drag Robbie Keane (current captain of Ireland and long time servant of hated local rivals Tottenham) through the mud while they are at it, that's all the better.

Full disclosure: this sums up my blinkers quite nicely, although you left out that sticking it to Robbie Keane also necessarily sticks it to Liam Brady, and I think most Gunners would rather see Chippy go to the World Cup than laugh at Robbie Keane's tears.

As much as I'd like to see Domenech go, the chances of him getting sacked after qualifying for the World Cup are somewhat less than the chances should they have gone out. So, we're stuck with that hilarious muppet for another half-year, I think.

criticalbill, I thought about linking that decision in the Georgia game, but Ireland would probably have gotten at least a point from that game, so, everything else being equal, they still would have finished on 16 points, second in the group ahead of Bulgaria and well ahead of Norway for a playoff spot. They're both dodgy decisions, it's true, but the penalty in the Georgia game wasn't as immediately impacting, so it's understandable that this one would cause more furor.

Kattullus, as much as I do like Henry, that's a pretty easy statement to make the day after FIFA has announced unequivocally that there won't be a replay.
posted by Errant at 10:48 AM on November 20, 2009


Yeah... I agree, Errant, it was an easy statement to make and could well be construed as an attempt at damage control, but I still thought it was an interesting statement.
posted by Kattullus at 11:03 AM on November 20, 2009


Favorite headline so far, from The Fiver:

Thierry Ennui
posted by Kattullus at 3:24 PM on November 20, 2009


Article by Gabriele Marcotti explaining why FIFA will not order a replay of France – Ireland even though it ordered a rematch between Uzbekistan and Bahrain in 2006.
posted by Kattullus at 8:59 AM on November 23, 2009


« Older For each unique visitor it receives, Temporary.cc ...  |  Playing with Fire and Water is... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments