Hand of God. Again. The debate on whether the ends justify the means has come up. Again. A smirking Thierry Henry has now made way for a remorseful Henry. But like Arsene Wenger has said - sport is actually full of examples of people who have committed some form or another of foul, just to get to that end goal (pun intended). (Pic courtesy Sky News). Now France has qualified for the World Cup, but how many would remember the team for the qualifier? If France were to proceed strongly in the World Cup, would people observe the sport or still talk about Henry's hand goal? Do the ends truly justify the means?
But as instances throughout this year have shown, there really is no simple distinction between right and wrong in sport. This year alone has seen enough and more of such cases. Take F1. From the ignoble Lewis Hamilton scandal to the permanent expulsion of Flavio Briatore. The examples are plenty. People allude to the 2002 season, where Schumi passed Barrichello at Austria and then returned the favor at USA allowing Barri to win by 0.011 seconds! People say that such 'fixes' run contrary to the free spirit of sport. I argued then and I do even now that at least those moves were within a team and geared towards the greater good of the team. But in case of Henry, this is a clear violation of rules and I can draw a parallel with another rule in F1 where a driver is not allowed to make up positions by driving off a track around a bend. And if he does that he is penalized. Here, didn't Henry mould the decider goal by unfair means? Had that hand goal not happened, could we have seen a French victory? I doubt it very much.
And after the game, Henry very blatantly blamed the referee. Now whatever happened to integrity? Everyone extols Adam Gilchrist, for 'walking' in the 2003 World Cup in the semi final against Sri Lanka, after having hit just 22. Now, he could very well have stood his ground, since the umpire showed no reaction. But his action not only brought glory to him, but to the sport as well. All of a sudden meintions of cricket being the gentleman's sport started surfacing again. Scores of youngsters found a role model, again. So granted, there was a slip-up by the referee in the France-Ireland match, but the biggest referee of all, Henry himself knew that he was cheating. Shouldn't that have been grounds enough to admit to a fault and do something about it? Again, FIFA quotes the rule book saying an outcome cannot be changed. Now, what is the use of an archaic rule book if the rules do not allow fair outcomes? Isn't it time the rule book was amended then? By example?
All in all this is not just an unfair moment for Ireland. I guess it surely is a sad moment for France and a sadder one for World Cup Football. Roberto Baggio perhaps kicks himself still for that missed penalty. But Thierry Henry would be answerable to himself for the rest of his life if France goes on to win the World Cup. Given that repercussion, I guess the ends do not under any circumstance justify the means.