Stade De France: France 1-1 Rep. of Ireland. Thief'ry Hand'ry handles the ball twice before laying the ball off to William Gallas to put into the net, and give France an all important match equaliser and aggregate lead minutes from the end of extra-time.
Thief'ry Hand'ry has form. At the 2006 World Cup, France were drawing 1-1 with Spain when Thief'ry Hand'ry pretends to have been struck in the face by Spanish defender Carlos Poyul as the two men chased the ball. France subsequently score from the free-kick go on to win the game 3-1, to progress to the quarter-finals - and then on to the World Cup final itself.
This France vs. Rep. of Ireland football encounter has become extremely controversial; some say "…so controversial it made the definition of controversy, Formula One (the pinnacle of motorsport), pale in comparison.". It is the game that got the whole world talking!!
So how does Thief'ry Hand'ry mentally 'handle' the controversy? At the final whistle Thief'ry Hand'ry did not celebrate with his team- mates but by making a show of going over and sitting down on the turf to commiserate with the dejected Richard Dunne, the most heroic of Irish players. Thief'ry Hand'ry told Dunne that the Irish had deserved to win, and admitted that he had handled the ball. "But," he added, "I am not the referee."
Thief'ry Hand'ry shifts the blame to the officials!!
Gillette who sponsor Thief'ry Hand'ry have announced, "Gillette is aware of what happened last night in the World Cup play-off game. Thief'ry Hand'ry has publicly acknowledged it was a handball." Thief'ry Hand'ry has said it was an 'accident'. Gillette have no plans to sack Thief'ry Hand'ry following his role in ending the Republic of Ireland's World Cup dream.
Thief'ry Hand'ry had about five seconds in which to decide to join the immortals. While William Gallas wheeled away from the point blank header which gave France the lead over the Republic of Ireland during extra time in their World Cup play-off last night, Thief'ry Hand'rys reaction could have been to publicly acknowledge it was a handball then, not after the match. Instead, Thief'ry Hand'ry, with a broad, exultant beam on his face, he raced away from the scene of the crime to join Gallas and their team-mates in celebration of a goal that all knew was likely to be decisive in the battle for a place in next summer's World Cup finals.
A 'We Irish Hate Thief'ry Hand'ry the Cheat' Facebook page has already been set up: by 10am this morning, it had more than 24,000 fans. "We got robbed. It's cost a lot of us our dreams - as a boy I used to dream of playing in the World Cup, and now I'm not," bemoaned Irish defender Sean St Ledger.
France's progression to South Africa have left such a nasty taste in the mouth, for some in the Republic of Ireland, they feel as if a 'thief' has stolen their chance and dreams.
But the Irish have got the backing of the French sports teachers' union, which said it set a poor example to children to qualify as a result of "indisputable cheating" and was "linked to a 'very modern' philosophy stipulating that in all areas, including sports, the end justifies the means."
Thief'ry Hand'ry has said, "I will be honest, it was a handball. But I'm not the ref," Thief'ry Hand'ry added, "I played it. The ref allowed it."
Sweden Football Association chairman Ake Lagrell has backed his compatriot the Swedish Referree Martin Hansson, who failed to spot Thief'ry Hand'ry now infamous handball. However, the Sweden Football Association chairman Ake Lagrell feels that Thief'ry Hand'rys' offer to play the game again was nothing but a cheap attempt to regain public sympathy.
"All that has been said is in order to score cheap points and it was probably not a bad way of gaining sympathy."
As one commentator lamented; "On the evidence of the last week, football is a shelter for the ethically impaired. Fellow pros last Thursday morning were queuing up not to condemn Henry for his craven act of sporting fraud but rather the referee and his assistants for failing to spot it. That's a bit like handing Jack Slipper a 20-year stretch for allowing Ronnie Biggs to slip the net and make off, swag bag in-hand, to Brazil."
As Thief'ry Hand'ry wheeled away to celebrate, Ireland's goalkeeper Shay Given led the Irish charge toward the Swedish referee, Martin Hansson to protest. It took 97 seconds for order to be restored and the game to be restarted. Enough time, proponents of video technology continue to argue, for replays to be quickly - and adequately - scrutinized.
Only video evidence can catch Thief'ry Hand'ry!!