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Nothing makes you a hero or a villain faster than football. Unfortunately for Henry it was his time to play the villain. He made a mistake. He handled the ball in the World Cup playoff decider against Ireland,which put his country in next years World Cup in South Africa. He probably didn’t do it intentionally (no one can plan such stuff) and may be he should have owned up to it immediately instead of waiting till the end of the match but no one can understand what was going on in his head at that time. It was a big game, the result of which was crucial and he can’t really be blamed for not being strong enough to be honest but that doesn’t instantly make him a cheat, a liar, a good-for-nothing footballer with no ethics who was never really good enough.
Another dilemma to this question of him owning up is that as a professional footballer, his duty was to do whatever it took to put France in the World Cup Finals. If he had owned up to the handball, would it have been fair to his countrymen? Its easy to judge sitting on the periphery and when the stakes aren’t very high for you. Hell, I confess that there are times when my team (Chelsea), get decisions in their favor because the referee was daft or blind or both and I refuse to criticize the player and the referee, just glad that my team are ahead.
Understandably, the French supporters feel like Henry has done nothing wrong and may be some even consider him (at their own risk),something of hero while the Irish are disgusted and feel cheated and football fans around the world are livid. Some even going far enough to make personal sacrifices as vowing never to use a certain shaving product promoted by Henry (a lot of very hairy football fans in the future). Had Henry owned up to the handball immediately, he would have proven to the world that he was an extraordinary human being. Henry is not a cheat, he is not a liar, and he is not an extraordinary person, he is simply a professional football player.
Henry did what he had to do for his country and is not to blame. The referee, however didn’t do his job well enough and FIFA, haven’t done their job for a while now by rejecting a replay of the match and by continuously rejecting the introduction of technology in football.