THIERRY Henry's very visible double-handling of the ball before passing it to William Gallas to score for France and ensure a place in the World Cup Finals next year was a cruel blow to an Ireland side that had played magnificently and might otherwise have been the team to go to South Africa.

There is no doubt about Henry's offence -- he has admitted to it but passed the responsibility to the referee, Martin Hansson of Sweden. However, regardless of the injustice FIFA is unlikely to hear the call by the Football Association of Ireland for the result to be invalidated -- despite FAI's enterprise in unearthing a case in 2005 when a game between Uzbekistan and Bahrein was declared null and void because of a “technical error by the referee”. The precedent would explode. Instead of dwelling on the injustice of Wednesday night's result the international football community -- clubs, players, administrators and, especially, the media -- should use the Thierry Henry incident and the referee's error to spearhead a campaign to make any repetition in similarly important games unlikely. The alternatives to the present rough justice over dubious goals and penalty appeals are well-known. The instant use of video replays from several angles is one; the use of additional penalty-area referees is another that is already being used in some Europa League (formerly UEFA Cup) games. No system would be infallible but in the interest of fair play the present one is quite unacceptable.


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