History Repeating Itself?

Thierry Henry has escaped any kind of censure from FIFA over the handball incident against Ireland last year, in much the same way as Diego Maradona did in 1986. The statement that FIFA issued is interesting though – the bold text has been added by us:

“On 2 December 2009, the FIFA Executive Committee asked the FIFA Disciplinary Committee to analyse the handling offence committed by Thierry Henry during the France v. Republic of Ireland match on 18 November 2009, and to consider the possible disciplinary consequences.

“At its meeting on 18 January 2010, the Disciplinary Committee reached the conclusion that there was no legal foundation for the committee to consider the case because handling the ball cannot be regarded as a serious infringement as stipulated in article 77a) of the FIFA Disciplinary Code. There is no other legal text that would allow the committee to impose sanctions for any incidents missed by match officials.”

In case you were wondering (and we know you were), here’s article 77 for you:

‘Article 77 Specific Jurisdiction

The Disciplinary Committee is responsible for:

a. Sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials’ attention:

b. Rectifying obvious errors in the referee’s disciplinary decisions:

c. Extending the duration of a match suspension incurred automatically by an expulsion (cf. art 18, par.4)

d. Pronouncing additional sanctions, such as a fine.’

So now you know. A deliberate handball in the act of scoring a goal that is missed by the referee is not a serious enough infringement for the FIFA Disciplinary Committee to look at it retrospectively. The last sentence in the statement is interesting as it seems to imply that the FIFA lawyers have had to look at it. You know, just in case any parties that might have had a grievance felt like taking the matter to the next level.

The second incident is reminiscent of what happened at the World Cup in Spain in 1982. Austria and West Germany knew they only had to draw in order for both to qualify for the second round at the expense of Algeria; so it should not have come as a massive surprise that the game – which as much fun as watching paint dry by all accounts - ended 0-0. Since then, the last group games in major international tournaments have kicked of simultaneously in order to prevent that happening again.

Or at least that was how it was supposed to work. On Monday – with both teams knowing in advance that a draw would do – Algeria drew 0-0 with Angola and both qualified for the quarter finals of the African Cup of Nations at Mali’s expense; Mali have launched an official complaint to the CAF about the game.

Hopefully we won’t get any outrageous decisions or games like those mentioned above this summer, but don’t be too shocked if we do. Let’s just hope England aren’t involved in any of them.

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