Sport Soccer

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Henry: 'It was a handball... but I’m not the ref'

Mark Ogden

Thierry Henry admitted that he had intentionally handled the ball to set up William Gallas’s decisive goal against Ireland in Wednesday night's World Cup play-off in Paris.

With cries of “cheat” ringing in his ears from furious Irish fans, the Barcelona and former Arsenal forward emerged from the dressing room to say: “I will be honest, it was a handball. But I’m not the ref. I played it, the ref allowed it. That’s a question you should ask him.”

Henry may have been shamed into making his confession by Trapattoni who had earlier stopped short of accusing the player of cheating, but added that Henry should be given the chance to admit his offence.

Trapattoni said: “All European people saw the situation. I am sure that, if the referee had asked Henry, he would have admitted to the handball.

“I would prefer to go out on penalties than this. I am sad because the referee had the time to ask the linesman and Henry.

"I am upset for fair play because we are told many times about fair play. We didn’t change the rules three months ago.

“I go into schools to talk about fair play and tell the young kids that it’s important for their life.”

Irish defender Richard Dunne was less charitable, saying: “I think it was quite blatant that he cheated. The linesman was in line with the incident, it wasn’t even a hard decision to make.”

Gallas attempted to dodge the controversy surrounding his former Arsenal team-mate by insisting he did not see how Henry provided the pass for the goal.

Gallas said: “It all happened so quickly. I received the ball from Thierry, but I couldn’t see. I saw Thierry’s pass, the Irish were surprised and I put my head and my chest out.”

France coach Raymond Domenech, a contrary and unpopular figure in France, brushed off Irish complaints during a heated post-match press conference.

Domenech said: “I didn’t see the hand. You people [media] are talking of this after seeing it from 80 yards. The referee gave the goal, but I couldn’t see anything from where I was. I didn’t see the replay.

“But I am disappointed for the Irish team, their public and fans. I regret that Ireland haven’t qualified for the World Cup.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, commentating for French broadcaster TF1, was more candid in his assessment of the goal, however, by admitting that France "went through thanks to a refereeing error".

Do you feel a grave injustice has been committed against Ireland? Should the match be replayed? Should Henry be banned? E-mail us your thoughts

Telegraph.co.uk

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