Saturday, 21 November 2009

So it seems Nicolas Sarkozy does understand the notion of separation of powers after all. Pressed to intervene in the France-Ireland affair his reaction was to point out that "I am not the referee"; pity he couldn't come to the same realization before appointing the prosecutor who would preside over the Clearstream libel case in which he himself was a plaintiff. FIFA have predictably refused Ireland's request to replay the game pointing to the law which states that the referee's decision is final. But this was never about the referee anyway. Referees make mistakes but unless one can prove they were doing so deliberately that's the end of the story. This is a story about Thierry Henry and about honesty in sport. It seems inconceivable that Henry didn't know what he was doing when he handled the ball - after all he touched it not once but twice - so the question is how to react to an incident of cheating. It is never likely to happen but wouldn't the appropriate reaction be for Raymond Domenech to drop Henry from his World Cup squad? This would be a severe punishment and so far as I know without precedent but would at least allow the rest of the French team, who are guilty of nothing more than turning in a series of lacklustre performances, to compete in the World Cup with a semblance of dignity. And who knows they might even, as was the case for Arsenal, play better without their ageing captain?

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