Today is one of those sometimes. Thierry Henry is in sore danger of a brouhaha moment which will, no doubt, not endear him to the Paddys! What a farce!
What's really surprising is the number of well-respected commentators jumping on the bandwagon. Wow! They finally realised that football is a silly game populated by real Neanderthals (both on the pitch and in the stands) as opposed to the the Turnip Taliban! I'm genuinely amazed.
First we have that respected commentator Hugh McIlvanney informing us that “Video refs can catch the cheats”. Excuse me, Hugh, where have you been for the last umpteen years? Are you seriously telling your readers that you only just noticed that football is populated by cheaters and that the administrators have done nothing about it since time began? Pull the one with the bells on!
Do you not remember the Maradona “Hand of God”? How long ago was that? Was anything ever done? Wake up!!
Instead of vilifying Henry, who is, after all, only doing what anyone would do if they knew they were not likely to get caught; Hugh might reserve his righteous ire for the game itself. To be fair, he does touch on this, but, as usual, chickens out at the crucial moment.
In a long article, he reserves his opprobrium for the administrators, chiefly Sepp Blatter of FIFA. Come on Hugh! Easy target! Some of this is, surely, down to the Fourth Estate! You guys are not Babes in the Wood!
Facts are that football is a rotten game which is designed to encourage the basest instincts in the human character. Hugh is hinting at this, but he is not willing to condemn sufficiently.
Same day, same paper – we have a stab at it from Dominic Lawson on the Editorial page. His article, “A game of two halves: cheating and whining” reads better than the lily-livered Hugh. He goes though the whole gamut of footballing sins. He is particularly aghast at the Irish howls of derision, when, as he skilfully points out, Ireland's Roy Keane attempted to cheat twice in the same game, only to be foiled because the ref happened to be looking. He quotes Damian Duff – Irish striker - “If it was me or Robbie at the other end, we would have tried it. You just expect the referee or linesman to see it.”
How sad it is that on the day even the match commentators did not see the hand ball until the replay! Dominic's point that no-one has ever seen a referee change his mind is the key. Since the poor old ref made a boo-boo, he will be pilloried. Meanwhile, the idiots who run the game will cry crocodile tears and strike him from their list of possible World Cup referees (and their Christmas card list!!).
Contrasting rugby and cricket with their reliance on technology (Hugh, are you listening!!) only leads Dominic deeper into despair. His conclusion that football attracts a particular type of person, a yob, just about sums it up.
I love his last sentence: “Does anyone know why it is still called “”the beautiful game””? That has to be the biggest joke of all.”