Now or Never: How FIFA Must Order a Replay for the Good of the Game
By now we all know what happened at the Stade de France on Wednesday. Today we now see the backlash of Thierry Henry's blatant handball in extra time of the second leg of the World Cup Qualifier Playoff against Ireland.
Now the world turns its eyes to FIFA as the FAI have lodged an official protest asking for a replay of the game. They deserve it too. Saying that they got the short end of the stick is a gross understatement, but it's the cleanest thing I can say to describe it.
The way I see it Sepp Blatter has three options:
- Order a total replay of the game. The likely result if Ireland's protest works. We would start all over in Paris. This is not the best option for Ireland or France given the club schedules both teams are under and the hassle of ticketing for fans of both nations. It would also benefit the French who in all fairness were simply outplayed by the Irish and would give them a much needed mulligan.
- Deny the protest and let the result stand. If Blatter chooses this option he is bound to have critics from every country, except France. He would probably give Henry a fine of a few thousand dollars which Henry could probably pay off with a smile on his face. It would be an acceptance of cheating and could harm his position as president of FIFA.
- Disallow goal resume play with free kick and red card for Henry. I call this the George Brett option after the acceptance of the Kansas City Royals' protest over the pine tar game. Henry should get a red card due to the intentional handball. The match could take place in closed doors but all it would take is 20 minutes of extra time and penalties. There'd be probably 40 minutes of match action so the players would be busy for at most two hours.
The decision lies in Sepp Blatter and it will be a major factor in his legacy. He could go down as either the man who turned a blind eye in the face of scandal or the man who preserved justice, integrity, and beauty in the beautiful game.
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