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Swede in hot seat after disputed French goal

AFP/The Local · 19 Nov 2009, 17:33

Published: 19 Nov 2009 14:14 GMT+01:00
Updated: 19 Nov 2009 17:33 GMT+01:00

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“Martin Hansson denied Ireland a place in the World Cup with the worst Swedish refereeing error we’ve seen in nearly 20 years,” writes Aftonbladet football columnist Erik Niva, dubbing the call “Hansson-gate”.

“As far as I’m concerned, Team Hansson has forfeited its right to continue officiating major international matches.”

The disputed goal came when French defender William Gallas scored from close range in the eighth minute of the first period of extra-time to level the scoring. The goal stemmed from a pass by Henry, who had blatantly handled the ball a fraction of a second earlier to the right of Shay Given's goal as the Irish fought to clear the ball.

Despite vehement protests from Irish players, the Swedish referee decided to allow the goal, which tied the match 1-1, but put France through to South Africa on aggregate following a 1-0 victory in Dublin last Saturday.

Swedish tabloid Expressen’s Johan Orrenius was somewhat more charitable of Hansson’s blunder, pointing out that his officiating was “excellent” for the match’s first 102 minutes.

Nevertheless, Orrenius believed the mistake was unforgivable, especially for the Irish.

“Hansson ought to avoid travelling to Ireland ever again,” reads the headline of his Thursday column.

Orrenius goes on to lament Hansson’s role in helping France qualify for the World Cup.

“Somehow I feel like I want to have France in a World Cup, but it’s too bad that some of the world’s most gifted players couldn’t get it done without the help of a Swedish referee.”

Ireland's assistant manager Liam Brady said he wouldn't call Henry a cheat -- and claimed that Hansson succumbed to pressure created by FIFA.

"I asked Thierry Henry after the game and he said 'I handled it but I didn't mean it'," Brady said.

"When you look at the film I think he kept the ball in play and he meant it. I wouldn't go down the road of (calling it) cheating, the players seek every advantage they can.

"But I would ask FIFA, 'Do we want to play the match again?' We would go to Paris and play again. I don't think it would come to that but we would be willing to go to Paris, on their home ground, and have a fair winner."

Football Association of Ireland (FAI) urged soccer's world governing body, FIFA, to have the match replayed.

"The blatantly incorrect decision by the referee to award the goal has damaged the integrity of the sport," the FAI said in a statement.

"We now call on FIFA, as the world governing body for our sport, to organize for this match to be replayed."

Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni told a press conference minutes before the statement was released by his employers that he did not believe FIFA would grant a replay.

"It is impossible to repeat the game," the experienced Italian said.

He urged FIFA to explain how Swedish referee, who failed to spot the incident, had been chosen for such a high-profile match, saying: "For this important game we needed a stronger referee, an important referee."

Trapattoni also called for extra-time to be scrapped at the end of the two-leg World Cup playoffs, with the second match instead going straight to a penalty shootout in the event of a draw in regulation time.

Hansson, who works as a firefighter, failed to spot the Henry handball. The player himself admitted handling, but said the responsibility for seeing the incident fell to the match official.

Trapattoni refused to blame the player, saying: "It wasn't up to Henry to

say 'I touched it with my hand'."

Angry Ireland fans and newspapers nevertheless blasted Henry as "Le Cheat" Thursday as the traditional luck of the Irish deserted their heartbroken team.

"We were robbed" said the Irish Star, "Le Cheat" added the Irish Mirror, while the Irish Sun splashed with "Henry, You Bastille" and the "Hand of the Frog" -- a play on Diego Maradona's 1986 "Hand of God" goal over England.

A Facebook page entitled "We Irish hate Thierry Henry (the cheat)" also drew hundreds of comments -- some of them unprintable -- including a call for an Irish boycott on French goods.

"I would say croissant sales will slump today," said one contributor to the social networking site page.

Irish football veteran David O'Leary said Henry handled the ball twice.

"He touched it the first time to stop the ball going out of play and the second time he adjusted the ball so he could knock it across for the goal."

But O'Leary, who played for Ireland in the 1990 World Cup, refused to blame the referee, saying he had had an otherwise "excellent" game in Paris Wednesday night, but on the Henry incident, he had made "a scandalous decision".

"Thierry Henry is a lovely lad and he likes to be liked and he'll be in a very embarrassing position now because he wants to play the game in a certain way," he told BBC radio.

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen issued a statement congratulating the national team on its "courageous performance," but made no mention of the handball controversy.

He said the team's efforts kept the nation enthralled for 120 minutes and they made a "heroic effort" to qualify.

But the Irish Times described the incident as "Heartbreak of Henry's hand of God, part II," saying Ireland's travelling army of fans "fell to the ground, inconsolable."

Story continues below…

The Irish Independent said the team was "cheated" out of the World Cup finals.

"Armed robbery" its headline says, describing it as a "Massive injustice for boys in green as referee's howler sends French to South Africa".

"The end had a larcenous feel," says its soccer columnist Vincent Hogan, "a French captain, literally with guilt on his hands. 'La Marseillaise' being sung by empty voices."

"Daylight Robbery" says the Irish Examiner, "Henry's handball breaks Irish hearts".

In an editorial the Examiner says the "travesty" demonstrated again the need to use video technology for disputed incidents in matches.

The obvious miss by Hansson isn’t the first time a Swedish referee has been embroiled in controversy at the international level.

Back in 1990, Sweden’s Erik Fredriksson allowed Argentine legend Diego Maradona to defect a ball away from his own goal with his hand in a World Cup match against the Soviet Union. Argentina went on to win 2-0.

And in the 1994 World Cup, Bo Karlsson, who is now chair of Sweden's football referees' association, handed a yellow card to the wrong Nigerian player in a group match against Argentina.

More recently, Swede Peter Fröjdfeldt was criticized for missing an obvious push by Germany’s Michael Ballack, allowing him to head in a goal against Portugal at the Euro 2008 championships.

And one Swedish referee, Anders Frisk, was forced into retirement after receiving death threats following his decision to send off Chelsea’s Didier Drogba during a 2005 Champions League match against Barcelona.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:02 November 19, 2009 by paddy irish
I believe your countryman Mr Hansson done a great injustice to Ireland. I can understand not seeing it but to not take his time to consult with the other linesmen is unforgiveable. If he knew he was 'blinded' and could not see then he could also say he dint see the hand ball not taking place . Therefore the least us Irish deserved is a few seconds of deliberation.

However I believe my small country acted with the same dignity and character other countries only dreamm of.

Slan go fail Ireland abu !
15:23 November 19, 2009 by testUserName
I could just see it as a mistake.. you can't be thoughtful about every incident in this type of sports.. Its like a car accident, people driving them are not crazy but they somehow take wrong decisions... But above all, I feel sorry for Ireland..
15:26 November 19, 2009 by livinginsweden
use the video for heavens sake!
15:49 November 19, 2009 by Luckystrike
Poor Ireland! :(

Well hopefully now, football will be one f the last and next games to implement " video replay" decisions for goals that are appealed.
16:09 November 19, 2009 by Cuttingedge
Look, am tired with the so called big countries in everything, France is not supposed to be in South Africa Next year, shame to so called a referee from Sweden, who praise themselves to champion the rights for everyone, imagine if it was the final match of the big footbal competition. Shame on this swedish referee, Hope FIFa will do something on this
16:24 November 19, 2009 by peropaco
Sweden has its allegiance with France. This goes back to the days of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte:-)))

I don't think it would have made much of a difference if Ireland had won. I reckon they would have been sent packing in the first round back to their skirts and kidneys with warm beamish stout ;-D
16:48 November 19, 2009 by thevasin
Martin Hansson did the terrible job !!

It was very unfair for Ireland.
17:58 November 19, 2009 by crofab
One of the worst non-calls I have ever seen in a game of such importance. Ireland really did get robbed. Maybe video replays in football wouldn't be such a bad idea after all. Or maybe they just need an additional ref placed behind the goal to get a closer look at things. I really hope this ref won't be in the WC next year!
18:06 November 19, 2009 by Cuttingedge
Poor Swedish referees, they have bad history from 1990, why using them it the match like this one, they have to officiate in Allsvenska, they real poor @Crofab you right it will be a shame to use such a referee
18:16 November 19, 2009 by DreEstwd
Major kick in the balls to Ireland. They deserve to be in South Africa judging by the way they've performed throughout qualification.
18:18 November 19, 2009 by Sweden2703
This is not just about a football match,this is about the deliberate cheating of an entire nation and its sporting hopes.There is nothing bigger than participation in the World Cup.

Henry and the rest of the French players,officals etc have absolutely no shame or honour or decency,it shows French and Irish children that cheating and trickery and fraud win you matches and win you advantages in life unfairly.

It is a disgrace and I believe as an Irish citizen living in Sweden that the match must be replayed,FIFA have done everything in their power to put France through at the expense of Ireland,they thought we would just lie down and be beaten by the French.

It is a national scandal and it reflects how filthy lucre is the cause of it.

France means far more money for FIFA than Ireland would because of our much smaller population.

We also hope that the referee be investigated as having been possibly bribed or having his palms greased by the French.

I have found the Swedish people to be honest and fair and friendly and they would want a rematch.They have showed me nothing but courtesy and fairness since I came to live here.

If this just boils over and is forgotten,it means as is often the case,vile cheating and thievery have won.

I hope France is cursed in the World Cup in 2010.

Henry and his entire bunch of teammates are robbers and fraudsters.
18:29 November 19, 2009 by paddy irish
sweden2703 I know you are angry but there is no point stooping to the same level. I understand that Henry did it and I also understand how many times players have got penalised even when they do it correctly.

However money does rule the world and the seeding fiasco which ensures France has an easier run led by Platini who happens to be .... is only one of the reason why Ireland where not to get to the worldcup. The most annoying thing is that your countryman referee has not come out and apologised to the Irish people. Two wrongs dont make a right.

ps peropaco its spuds and guiness.
19:19 November 19, 2009 by spy
It's only a game (and not a very good one either).
19:55 November 19, 2009 by mcbrazile
as an irishman i feel angry about this. all refs make mistakes, but this ref didnt consult the linesmen, and if most of a team come complaining about a desicion, its kinda stubborn not to talk to yer officials.This isnt the first time this has happened to a team. The least ref guy could do is admit he was wrong. fifa say the refs decision is final, but if the ref changes his decision after the game?.I think we should take this as a sign to bring in video ref.

AND, the french were offside in the first place. S***e judgin by linesman. 2 mistakes, one after another? Feeling more than a little pissed off.
19:58 November 19, 2009 by andyman
thierry henry played 90 minutes in Croke Park and he thinks he can play gaelic football.

if there´s any justice there´ll be a rematch.
20:20 November 19, 2009 by mcbrazile
hahahahahahaha. there are a lot of gaelic/soccer players out there, between handballers and bootin it over the bar.
20:40 November 19, 2009 by potato man
The real villans of the piece are FIFA. They're late decision to seed the play offs was obviousley taken to try and ensure the larger nations progressed. And now they reject without explanation Irelands legitimate claim for a re-match following the Henry incident. They're talk of Fairplay in Soccer now has a hollow ring about it. Shame
21:26 November 19, 2009 by jebet95
Yes Ireland may have been knocked out of the World cup in the first round, but because of the ref did not consult his linesmen, and missed two hand ball incidents, plus an off side, Ireland is not going to the world cup. If France had won by fair means I could accept this, FIFA need to change their rules to allow for video replay. Henri took his chance, perhaps he wants to play Gaelic. To peropaco the scots were kilts!!! not sure who wears the skirts not the irish!!!
23:09 November 19, 2009 by Beavis
Swedish refs shouuld not be refereeing important matches, obviously they are not up to standard. THis is not the first Swedish referee to make an awful mistake. Why did he not check with his linesmen? Idiot. Earlier in the game Anelka dived faking claims for a penalty.The referee saw he was trying to cheat and didnt give the peno,BUT didnt send off or book Anelka? He abviously doesnt know the rules of the game. Or maybe hes just good mates with Pratini and Bladder.
23:25 November 19, 2009 by mcbrazile
I think it all boils down to this:

1. refs an idiot

2. linesman's blind

3.a ref of a (no offence) minor football league shouldn't ref high profile international matches.

4. fifa have some hidden agenda.

5.ireland played the best football i've ever seen them play in my 15 years, after a rejuvination under trap, and were rewarded by soddy reffing and a biased fifa, who on a connected point always seem to somehow get the most contrevertial and high profile matches in the champs league from a random draw............. the're not beyond fixing and unfairness.
03:35 November 20, 2009 by Davey-jo
Professional football is not a game; it is a business. It is not run according to the rules of a game. It is run to make the maximum profit. Now if Ireland's presence in the finals would make more money then France's I suspect a replay would happen immediately. However, nobody could give a good healthy dump about Irish footy so tough titty as they say.
07:04 November 20, 2009 by misssh
Dear Mr Sven Svensson,

There is no need to vent your frustration on Ireland for your country´s early departure in the world cup qualifying match

We know that your team is rubbish but why take that out on a side with such quality as Ireland

consider yourself cursed with the Irish 1 leave clover that´s got about as much luck as your country making the world cup as ......LOL
07:32 November 20, 2009 by Tutu
take it easy on our referre. all judges do make mistakes sometimes and why are we castigating only sweden
08:24 November 20, 2009 by Mucker
Ireland would have lost on penalties anyway.
09:04 November 20, 2009 by Merc10
Had the goal been disallowed , the match would still have ended up in penalties and who knows who would have won ??

The ref blundered but Irish also have themselves to blame for not taking their chances with Duff and Keane missing a sitter.

The match should be replayed .
10:33 November 20, 2009 by square
FIFA should stick their fair play banner where the sun doesn't shine, they are a bunch of friggin tools. One bit of joy i get is knowing Henry has to look at himself in the mirror everyday now and realise he is just a lowlife cheat. I'm sure his Gillette buddies Tiger and Rodger will think this of him also. Gillette the best a man can get!!!! Ha how can he front that.
11:32 November 20, 2009 by Osokin
Hansson's 3rd serious mistake in important matches in the last year alone, he should be retired. Even if he wasn't in a good position to see the hand, the lineman was, he "missed" 2 french players outside position, and the hand.

Hansson did not pay any mind to the Irish protests which started even before the goal (as they raise their hands when Henry stops the ball from going out) and he does not even consult with Henry about it. A referee of experience would had seen the whole picture developing and call it off.

FIFA's opposition to technology seems an indication that they reserve themselves the right to fix games apparently. Nothing new.
14:47 November 20, 2009 by Dr Phil
When is the world of football going to wake up ? There is so much money in the sport today that to stop all this controversey all they need to do is have special judges on the side lines who have t.v. monitor screens and can give a decision .

Forget what some of the so - called experts in France who say that this would slow the game down - rubbish !

Playback is the future.....look at Rugby League ,Cricket and other sports who use it.

If Eduardo gets banned for 2 matches after a match is finished then surely Henrys goal is not valid and a replay is the fair decision.

Swedish ref was incorrect and to help him his integrity could have been maintained by use of play-back.

When will the sport wake up ? teams have been promoted , relegated for years by bad decisions.
16:06 November 20, 2009 by Sweden2703
Multi-millionaire Henry must be worth 20 million,50 million Euros?

Does it matter which?

Henry and the whole French football team and officialdom have stained and dishonoured the great French people as well as the Irish people.

The have dishonoured sport and football.

The tragic little French football manager doesn't even understand what the fuss is about,the French cheated,they won and they are going to the World Cup finals in South Africa next year.

France won,didn't they?

It's not about getting angry and upset about a game,football IS indeed a beautiful game and it is a metaphor for life itself.

It shows that FIFA's waffle about fairness and integrity is just a sick lie.

FIFA and FFF,the French Football Federation are now annoyed that people Europe-wide will not tolerate this dishonouring and cheating and fraud.They hope it will quickly blow over.

That's why there is so much injustice and inequality in society,lies and cheating often win.

Henry and Gallas and the rest of the French multi-millionaires have put filthy lucre and "celebrity" over and above decency and honour and fairness.

Henry will go down in history as a cheat and liar.

The match should not be replayed but awarded to Ireland for the theft of a Nation's hopes and to show that decency can sometimes struggle through.

But multi-millionaires Platini and Blatter and other sinister,oily,cheating individuals will make sure Ireland are not in South Africa next year.
21:11 November 20, 2009 by cblanquer
Soccer fans, just switch to Rugby Union Football.

You will see referees checking the screenplay and ensure their decisions are not wrong.

Players respecting referees decicions.

And French and Irish play much more fairplay, even with the increased brutality of the contact.

Then comes the 3rd time, are meals and beers...
23:53 November 20, 2009 by jack sprat
Rugby Union...... Fairplay cblanquer?????????????

You cannot be serious man.....Just look at the number of cases of head stomping,..eye gouging,....earbiting and the rest in the last few seasons,...then the recent case of the guy with a red paint capsule in his mouth feigning injury, that disgraced himself,his club and rugby union as a whole even further, if that was possible.

The game, if you can call it that, has been dragged into the gutter,making soccer very civilised by comparison!
16:29 November 21, 2009 by J.Ravier
Sorry mates but such errors are common in football. I'm very sorry for the Irish people but I'd like to remind them that when they played Georgie during the qualifications, the referee "offered" them a penalty which should never have taken place. And they didn't signal that he did a mistake...I just think that it is pathetic and the worst hypocrisy to blame the French team and to call them "cheaters". Such things happen all the time in football and it's sad, but we cannot help it or stop it either by insulting everyone when your team loses...
18:29 November 21, 2009 by Michael84
It was a game and such things always happen, nothing special. but it did endear Sverige to some friends. haha
04:27 November 22, 2009 by paddy03
ravier .. thanks for sticking it to the Irish, your prejudice comes across loud and clear. Your fellow VIKING , hannson should do the decent thing and apogogise to the Irish people and retire from the game. I mean RIGHT NOW!

This BOY is a disgrace
13:56 November 22, 2009 by J.Ravier
@paddy03: Prejudice ? I understand you're mad but it's no reason to be stupid...who the f**k are you calling 'VIKING' ? The referee did a huge mistake, does it mean that the swedes are cheaters, or that they were bribed ? Open your eyes and stop watching football, it just makes you dumb...

By the way, I'm not Swedish...
21:28 November 23, 2009 by paddy03
Sorry ravier - but one of the only players of French decent on this team is the goalie. The Germans or Italians would NEVER stoop so low as to field a team of mercenaries.As for you ravier , you sound like a very young wanna-be psuedo intellectual who thinks he knows it all. Be a good boy and respect your elders as no school can teach you experience.

You lost this argument as you resorted to PROFANITY1
16:53 November 24, 2009 by J.Ravier
Well, first, I don't consider this an argument, second, I don't see the point in your argumentation (if it can be called so) AT ALL, third, I'm not a "very young wanna-be pseudo intellectual", but I will follow your steps, and assume you are a very old "wanna-be pseudo intellectual you thinks he knows it all" and that believes any one should listen to him because he is experienced (we don't give a s**t about your age)... If you're saying such insanities ("mercenaries" ?!?) because of the SKIN COLOUR of many of the players, then I am mistaken, you're just a dumb racist...

I have Irish friends, and I love the Irish people, and you appear to be a disgrace to them. Stop trying to impress everyone with your experience and pseudo eloquence because you have none: you are prejudiced and you're a loser. If you still think you "won" this "argument", I don't care because I'm not that low...

And if you still think that Swedes are VIKINGS, I advise you to quit this website definitely, it appear that it did not bring you any good...
05:21 November 26, 2009 by Alexjessy
Hellow please people stop shouting lets look at the fact one more time, the ref was in a difficult angle and didnt have a good vission of what actually happened and that made him human. Its not the first time this is happening in the game of soccer, i am an African and no African nation has ever gotten to the world cup final semi, but we still enjoy the game. please people easy

The ref actually had a good game untill that moment, maradona has did it, messi and other great players, please lovely people of the world calm down and allow FIFA to decide. The match can not and will never be re played. Nigeria usa 94 played against argentina with maradona heavily loaded with drugs we lost that game, maradona was punished by fifa so people allow fifa to handle this. thank you guys welcome to africa 2010
05:59 November 26, 2009 by RileyH
I just hope that his would be reolved.
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