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Blat-man and Robin have gone so quiet.

Byline: Barry HORNE

IN the wake of the Thierry Henry handball incident, isn't it amazing how many people get on their high horses and write opionionated nonsense - all produced in the cold light of day with as much time as they want to reflect.

That's in stark contrast to Thierry Henry's instantaneous and largely instinctive reaction.

There have been calls - in serious newspapers - for Henry to be banned from playing at the World Cup finals.

What a nonsense.

Where's the precedent? Is there anything in the rules to even say that this can be done? That would be just a random act inflicted on one of the greatest sportsmen of his generation. Another writer, again from a 'serious' paper actually cited the example of the 2005 match between Bahrain and Uzbekistan, FLASHPOINT: Thierry Henry siggesting that offered a precedent for action to be taken. In that game the referee disallowed a penalty for encroachment but wrongly awarded an indirect free-kick instead of having the penalty retaken.

That is completely different.

That is a matter of fact. The referee did not know the rules.

Quite rightly an appeal was granted.

It wasn't a matter of judgement as we have here.

Let's just look at the facts. I'm willing to believe that the first touch was not deliberate, but the second touch clearly was.

As any sportsman will know, however, especially at the higher levels, the vast majority of things that you do are instinctive.

Such is the case here, as Henry quite rightly pointed out.

Having said that, however, what a remarkably deft touch it was to guide the ball onto the outside of his right boot, to almost deliberately bounce the ball off William Gallas' head!

Forgetting for a moment the fact that it was a handball, it was a moment requiring superb co-ordination, athleticism and skill, qualities which have been the hallmark of Henry's career.

Let us not forget that over a decade he has provided us with some of the most sublime moments on the pitch and many moments of good grace and eloquence off it.

At the end of the game it was clear Henry was beside himself.

When he plonked himself beside a distraught Richard Dunne his body language almost mirrored the Irish player's.

For a long time nothing was said. It was very poignant and for me Henry will still be remembered for the good things.

The handball It is not in Thierry Henry's hands now to offer a replay. The only people who can put things right, if they so wish, is the French FA.

I do not wish to be francophobic about this, but I don't think anyone is holding their breath.

If Henry is to be banned, only FIFA can do that. And if they have that power, presumably they have the power to order the game to be replayed.

The silence from Batman and Robin of world football, however, is deafening. Blatter and Platini are all too ready to jump on incidents of cheating within the English game.

But for some reason, they seem reluctant to comment on this.


FLASHPOINT: The Thierry Henry handball
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 21, 2009
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