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One Of The Most Striking Consequences Of The Thierry Henry Affair

Conor Neville
By Conor Neville
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Thierry Henry's handball in the 2010 World Cup playoff had many consequences.

One of them, which has only come to light in recent years, relates to foreign journalists. Essentially, it means that any time Ireland get a moderately fortunate call, foreign journalists immediately reference the Henry handball in an 'I wonder will they offer a replay after that' type fashion.

In some respects, this is deserved. It is a direct result of the stink we kicked up after the Henry business.

Contrarians warned us that if we persisted in wallowing in the injustice of it all for too long, then the whole spectacle would quickly become undignified.

Their correctness was proven when Sepp Blatter dropped the 33rd team bombshell in front of a guffawing audience of fellow administrators and journalists.

Now, we all know that Ireland have never been assisted by referees. They've had it in for us since God was a boy and Eoin Hand was a manager. On those foreign trips to Brussels and Paris and Sofia, if we didn't get a ref who was outright corrupt, then we would get someone who still slavishly hometownish all the same.

As we've pointed out before, between 1976 and 1982, Ireland were world leaders in the field of disallowed goals. Specifically, disallowed goals away from home. Our disallowed goals dried up altogether in Dublin, a detail which may not be coincidental.


But the crowd back in the 70s and early 80s were more stoical than the current lot. They merely contented themselves with moaning about the calls back home and passing the stories of heartbreak down to future generations. They did not turn them into international incidents.

At this point, to balance the books, we should acknowledge that some people believe that referees have done us some good turns over the years. Here are four occasions since the Henry outrage when the referee didn't do us any harm. And one that occurred prior to the Henry outrage but quickly became associated with it thanks to the efforts of the then Ipswich Town manager.

Ireland v Bosnia, 2015

Bjorn Kuipers


Edin Dzeko argued that the referee was 70-30 in favour of Ireland and said he couldn't for the life of him understand how he had given that penalty.


I've seen them not given.


Bosnia v Ireland, 2015

Felix Brych

No glaring, flagship error in our favour, but Brych's management of the game wound up the Bosnians. He was certainly a 'defender's referee' and took a rather laissez faire attitude to our rash tackles.

He somehow missed Daryl Murphy hacking late across a Bosnian full back early in the game. Murphy was so late, the ref may well have turned his head in the other direction.


Jim Beglin was moved to comment approvingly on his performance after about half an hour. Full marks to him for not calling off the game in the second half also.

Estonia v Ireland, 2011

Viktor Kassai


One could point out here that Ireland were less assisted by the referee than by the Estonian players. Still, the Estonians were annoyed, as evidenced by their blond defender giving Kassai the hairdryer treatment in the tunnel afterwards. Any day when your opponent ends up with nine men is a good day. We're confident Kassai's name has gone down in the annals off Estonian folklore.

Ireland v Armenia, 2011

Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez


Mark Ogden began his Telegraph report on this match thus:

So it is not only Thierry Henry who enjoys a slice of luck with a sleight of hand. Now the Republic of Ireland know how it feels to profit from the shortcomings of officials after securing a Euro 2012 play-off place at the expense of 10-man Armenia.

The 26th-minute dismissal of Armenia goalkeeper Roman Berezovsky was the defining moment of Ireland’s victory.

Spanish referee Eduardo Gonzalez dismissed Berezovsky after he blocked Simon Cox’s lob two yards outside the penalty area with his bicep, yet Gonzalez crucially failed to spot Cox controlling the ball in the first instance with his right arm.

An Armenian youtube video on the game is entitled 'Ireland-Armenia 2-1, We HATE you Iturralde Gonzalez'.

Ireland v Georgia, 2009

Jouni Hyytia

Of course, this happened before the Henry business but thanks to the current Ireland assistant manager it does mark the first time a decision in Ireland's favour was linked back to the Henry handball.

Read: The Play-Off Decisions That Show Why Martin O'Neill Is Ireland's Unheralded Hero

Read: Roy Keane Highlights Three Players In Danger Of Missing Out On Euro 2016 Squad


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