Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sacre bleu!

Uh oh.
If you were in Ireland for the past 24 hours, you probably caught a whiff of what was nationally wafting through the air: bitterness. We have a nation of bitter people here.

"Is there a pervasive ethos of cheating in sport, and what message does that send to the young?" was the preview of the night's news.

"Controversy over last night's playoff escalates into a diplomatic incident" was another.

Not a happy day in Ireland, let me tell you. I had almost managed to forget about it, as someone who doesn't really follow sports, until I ran to the grocery store today to pick up a few things, and the headlines were blazing.

Basically, the Irish national soccer team were in the World Cup playoffs against the French. It was a two game qualifier. The first game was on Saturday, and it was disappointing. The French won 1-0, and I have to say that I wasn't incredibly impressed with the way the Irish played. They really could have been more aggressive, in my amateur opinion. But no matter: there was still Wednesday's game. Officials take the total number of points scored by each team in both games and whoever has most wins. If they tie, it goes into overtime. Ireland was playing well. They were up 1-0, which constituted a tie, until French player Thierry Henry used his hand to pass the ball to another player, who scored. That brought France's overall score to 2, sending them to the World Cup.


"Le Main de Dieu!" (The Hand of God!) was the French headline.

The Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) has called for a replay of the game. The French PM told him to butt out.


People are not happy. I know next to nothing about the sport, but I do know you can't use your hands. The ref failed to call it, and FIFA (the international governing body of soccer) has ignored the complaints. What a mess. The Irish have even temporarily forgotten to hate the English in the aftermath and, shops are beginning to sell Freedom Fries with their burgers in protest. Just kidding!

Here's a video of the incident. The quality ain't fantastic, but you get the idea.

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