Liberté, Fraternité, Egali…Handball!

Posted on November 19, 2009


“Handball!”…..”Handball?”…..”Oi, Ref! Are you blind?”


And so it was. The referee, it turns out, WAS blind, as was the linesmen and whatever other officials they have in soccer that clearly makes it run like clockwork. If there has ever been a valid case made for following the RFU and using video refereeing, last night was it.


And yes, people can make all the points they like about how we would have taken the goal had we scored it. The simple fact is, Ireland have been dumped out of the qualifiers. Again. And this time, there are a number of irritating circumstances.


Firstly, the ceded playoffs. Now, I don’t follow soccer but I am quite sure that FIFA would like to claim that they are a governing sporting body intent on fairness for all nations, even the smaller ones. The ceded playoffs opened the eyes of the world to what FIFA are really interested in – the green, (money, not Ireland, just in case you were wondering…) The ceded playoffs greatly diminish the chances of smaller nations like ourselves progressing in what is apparently a great competition.


Secondly, the fact that FIFA decided midway through the qualifying rounds that they would cede the playoffs, stinks of a kind of football bourgeoisie, in which the upper echelons of the association decided, “We don’t want that band of misfits, we’ll take them instead. They’re bigger and they’ll bring more people. And we’ll make lots of money.” Again, the argument comes back to the green.


Video refereeing is the way of the future for professional sport but then again, FIFA have proved in the past, that they are not quite ready for the future, haven’t they? When talks regarding “crossing the line” technology were hinted at, well, that’s it actually. They were hinted at. The suggestion obviously wasn’t taken on board, despite it being a good idea and one that would stamp out unnecessary confrontation by offering concrete certainty. The Rugby Football Union has made excellent use of advancing technology and the game is the better for it. There are no confrontations like what we saw last night, and there is fairness and equality.


The chances are that the referee was told, should the game be close, play advantage to France. And yes, I know that’s a serious accusation, but I don’t believe I am the only person making it. How else can you explain the sudden lack of 20/20 vision from a referee and linesman that saw a player stepping half an inch offside in the first half?


Of course, this suggestion of organisational injustice and unfairness is not an unheard of situation. In every organisation and association, certain teams are desirable. This, yet again, comes back to the green. The Dubs in the GAA; France, England, Italy in the soccer; England in the rugby.


I suppose at the end of the day, money rules the world and that’s fine. The world needs money. But should the main aim of sport be money? Because I am willing to bet that every Irish fan in Stade de France last night would have willingly given up the price of another ticket to see the game played for the sake of something other than money. Yes, for the sake of patriotism, pride, love. But most importantly, for the sake of what sport should be played for…