Tony Ward: Time soccer came of age
Last Wednesday in Paris we witnessed a sporting performance from the heart, one that made every one of us very proud to be Irish.
That we were diddled out of a penalty shoot-out is beyond dispute. We might well have lost that shoot-out too, but not to have got a 50-50 shot is beyond any rational interpretation or reasonable sense of fair play.
What Thierry Henry did was instinctive but wrong. The real fault however, lies with FIFA, and its refusal to embrace modern technology in line with other professional sports.
I have heard it suggested that soccer does not want to break the continuity element and that the game at underage level should be a replica of that at the very top. What utter nonsense.
The very nature of the game means that having to refer to the TMO (Television Match Official) will occur much less often in soccer than in rugby and, compared to the oval code, the guidance sought by the match official is, if anything, even more simple -- is there any reason why I can't award a penalty or a goal? It is as straightforward as that.
Would we be where we are now, with the integrity of the world's most popular sport on the line, were the available technology in place?
It would be of little consolation to Giovanni Trapattoni, to his players, to John Delaney or to the FAI, but last Wednesday's handball debacle should mark the moment global soccer's governing body finally came of age.