Thierry Henry’s ‘Hand Of God’ and Not-So-Fair World of Sports

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先日18日に行われた2010年ワールドカップ(W杯)の欧州予選プレーオフ、フランス対アイルランドの第2戦で、フランスが延長戦の末、ティエリ・アンリのハンドで得たゴールで1−1の引き分け、ワールドカップ行きのチケットを手に入れた件で、「正義感の強い」イギリスメディアは連日大騒ぎだ。スポーツ欄だけではなく、ニュース欄でも大きく取り上げている。このハンドはビデオで見ても明らかにハンドなのに、レフェリーが見逃した。アイルランドサッカー協会(IFA)は国際サッカー連盟(FIFA)に抗議、再試合を申請したが、FIFAは却下、フランスサッカー連盟(FFF)も拒否した。全て予想された結果だ。アイルランドも勝ち目なしと、早々に諦めたようだ。試合の後、インタビューを受けたフランス人ジャーナリストは、ワールドカップでは大きなお金が動くし経済効果も大きいので、FFFは絶対再試合を受け入れないと断言していた。その通りだった。これが逆の立場だったら、どうなっていただろうと思う。

当のアンリはハンドは認めてるけど、審判の責任だからと謝ってないし、「再試合がフェア」と言ってるけど、それもFIFAが再試合拒否の裁定を出してからだ。代表辞退も考えたらしいけど、結局辞めないし。自分のイメージ挽回のために、口先だけで適当に言い逃れて、ほとぼりが冷めるのを待ってるんだろう。

八百長とまでは言わないけれど、都合のいい結果を正そうとしないその後のFIFAの対応が、やはりスポーツも所詮ビジネス、影響力のあるサッカー強国に有利な世界なのねと思わせる一件だ。The Sunday TImesで、興味深い「陰謀説」記事を見つけた。元フランス代表のミシェル・プラティニ欧州サッカー連盟の会長の手引きによって、今回のプレーオフは、強国に有利になるように、くじ引きではなく、世界ランキングの高い国と弱い国が当たるシード方式を採用したと言われている。強国に有利になるようにしているのには、高額のテレビ契約料やスポンサーの思惑も絡んでいるのかもしれない。また、プラティニ会長もFIFAのジョセフ・ゼップ・ブラッター会長も、ビデオ判定導入には何故か消極的だ。確かに、偶然にしては、なんだかうさんくさい。

フランスとイギリスのメディアの論調の違いも面白い。フランスは自国チームのふがいなさを酷評しつつも、FIFAやFFFの決定には異議はないようだ。かたやイギリスメディアは、「Cheat(いかさま)」「Fallen Idol(堕ちたアイドル)」等と手厳しい。これはアングロサクソンラテンの価値観の違いか。ルールや公正さを重視するアングロサクソンに比べ、ラテン人は自分が良ければ全て良し、「運も実力のうち」「神様の思し召し」「ラッキー♪」って感じだろう。

またイングランド人には、この1件が、1986年ワールドカップ準々決勝で、マラドーナの「神の手」ゴールで、イングランドがアルゼンチンに敗れた悪夢を思い起こさせる。自国のことでないのに今回の大騒ぎは、このことも多いに関係してるのだと思う。

フランスは、対戦相手が多少なりとも自制心のあるアイルランドで良かったと胸を撫で下ろしてるだろう。これがエジプトやアルジェリアが相手だと大変なことになっていたかもしれない。サッカーの世界での権力のなさでワールドカップ行きを逃した、アイルランドチームが本当に気の毒だ。

There has been a huge media frenzy in UK about the Thierry Henry’s ‘Hand Of God’ during Ireland vs France World Cup 2010 play-off on November 18th and it’s aftermath: since France won a ticket to South Africa with 1-1, thanks to Henry’s ‘cheating’ act. UK media with “strong sense of mission to pursue justice” have been putting up big articles about  this incident, not only in sports sections but also in general sections, everyday since then. You can see clearly that it was handball, but the referee missed to see this crucial foul or chance to correct the mistake. Irish Football Association (IFA) demanded a rematch, but FIFA and the French Football Federation (FFF) said ‘NO’ – but it is all expected. IFA seems to give up already because they know that it is a fight they will never win. After the game, a French journalist who was interviewed by BBC said that FFF would never accept a replay, because big money and industries involved and economic effect would be enormous. He was right. But what it would happen, if France lost with Irish footballer’s  handball – would FIFA give the same judgement?

Henry admitted his handball but never say sorry. He said that replay would be fair for Ireland but AFTER FIFA and FFF refused a rematch. It was reported that he considered quittingLes Bleus” but he decided to stay anyway – all talks doesn’t convince me if he is truly remorseful, but I believe he is saying whatever to repair his image and just waiting for everyone to forget about his ‘mistake’

I don’t call it setup, but FIFA and FFF’s reluctance  to correct their convenient result is truly disappointing, and now I strengthen my belief that soccer is just another business, and always a stronger with bigger political power wins – fair play is a mere myth for important games like this. I read an interesting article by the Sunday Times “Conspiracy or coque up?” The play-offs were seeded on the basis of world rankings in favour of the bigger nations, and it was reported that the proposal to introduce seeding had come from UEFA (president is former French player Michel Platini). Why? Could it be related to the advance long-term television contracts, or the influence by one of a big sponsor which will possibly gain huge profit if France win? For some reason, Platini and FIFA president Sepp Blatter are said to be reluctant to introduce video technology, which can bring fairer judgement – why? Maybe a coincidence, but all these things sound pretty dubious.

Also it is very interesting to see the different stances between British and French media. Though French media criticizes their team done terrible in the game but they don’t attack the FIFA and the FFF of their judgement. On the other hand, British media is harsh on Henry as ‘cheat’ or “fallen idol,’ as well as on the FIFA. Probably this is due to the difference in Anglo-Saxons and Latins mentality: in compare to Anglo-Saxons’ values in fairness and justice, Latins would just think, “luck is also a part of his ability” “miracle” “godsend” – they would never criticize someone who give them a jackpot, even though from a devil.

In addition, for English, this incident reminds them of the nightmarish Hand of God goal, scored by footballer Diego Maradona during the 1986 FIFA World Cup quarter final Argentina vs England – probably it explains why British media is so obsessed with this incident which is not related to their own team.

French must be happy that the opponent was Ireland – if it was Egypt or Algeria, it would be a huge riot!

I am extremely sorry for Ireland who lost a chance to go to World Cup, due to a lack of political power in football world, rather than their lack of ability. Shame on Henry, shame on France, and shame on FIFA!

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