STOCKHOLM — The Swedish referee who failed to spot Thierry
Henry’s hand ball in the World Cup playoff between France and
Ireland says he considered quitting because of the furor.
Martin Hansson has spent eight years as an international
referee. He said in Tuesday’s edition of the Swedish newspaper
Sydostran that even his parents were hounded by photographers.
“I thought: Is the job really worth all this degradation that I
have to hear?” he said. “Maybe this is not my thing.”
Last week, Henry’s hand ball set up the tying goal for teammate
William Gallas in the playoff that helped give France a 1-1 draw
and a 2-1 win on total goals. France advanced to next year’s
tournament in South Africa at the expense of the Irish.
Although the hand ball appeared clear, it was not spotted by the
referee or linesmen and the goal stood. Ireland appealed for a
replay but FIFA rejected it.
Hansson said he wasn’t to blame nor were his linesmen because
their views were obstructed.
“I realize that it was not my fault,” he told the newspaper. “It
was an unfortunate event that had big consequences for Ireland,
but it wasn’t the fault of the refereeing team.”
The 38-year-old Hansson began his professional career as a
referee in 1992. He is to work a Champions League game Dec. 8 or
9 and is looking forward to getting back on the field.
“It feels good to get a match so soon after this unfortunate
episode,” he said. “But best of all has been the support I’ve
had from players and team officials.”