Alex Massie

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If there were a World Cup for Being Sanctimonious, Ireland would qualify every time. So, mind you, might Scotland. The aftermath of last night's match in Paris has been predictably entertaining. One refereeing blunder (though it's quite pssible the referee was unsighted and so did not, in fact, "bottle" the decision) has provided ample opportunity for cant and humbug. Thus, the Irish demand that the match be replayed. Good idea! Let's have another go at the 1966 World Cup Final while we're at it!

FAI President John Delaney complains:

"There's a team that should be in the World Cup today and that's us. We should be there but we are not there."

"They probably won't grant it [a replay] as we are minnows in world football but let's put them on the spot," the minister said. "It's the least we owe the thousands of devastated young fans around the country."

Most Oppressed People Ever

It's hardly a surprise that an Arsenal man is revealed as a cheat, but Henry's handball did not deprive Ireland of a trip to South Africa. All it did was ensure that they did not lose on penalties. (Of course they might have won a shoot-out). If you want to blame anyone, blame Damien Duff for missing a chance that was in the more-or-less-a-sitter category and that, if put away, would have rendered Henry's handball irrelevent.

And you know, I kind of think that if Ireland had enjoyed such a piece of "good fortune" in, say, the Jack Charlton era** there'd have been a lot of jovial nudging and winking and revelling in the hilarity of it all***. 

Anyway, keen eyes will notice that there's now an "Email Alex" button at the top of the page. So you can complain in person, as well as in the comments...

UPDATE: And look! Fianna Fail are asking you to sign a petition to be sent to FIFA! It's enough to make one think Monsieur Henry must be a paid FF agent, designed to divert attention away from NAMA, economic collapse and Fianna Fail's own political bankruptcy. 

UPDATE 2: This sort of thing has happened before. Welshmen with an interest in football will remember 1978 And All That when Joe Jordan's handball won Scotland the vital penalty. Of course we received our comeuppance at the actual World Cup and, who knows, maybe France will too.

*Last heard of proposing a disgraceful new blasphemy law.

**Of course, in 1994 FIFA showed how much they hated the Irish by making them play during hot weather. For real. This nonsense was taken very seriously by Dublin taxi drivers and radio "personalities".

***Indeed. Henry's handball was disgraceful; Diego Maradona's was hilarious.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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