I was watching the France vs Ireland soccer game which was the second leg of their playoff game, to advance to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. I am a huge soccer fan so I really wanted to watch this match. I should also mention, I am have dual citizenship with France and the US. That being said—I was wearing my France soccer jersey cheering “Allez les Blues!”
For those that didn’t see the game, France was up 1-0 on aggregate before the game even started, having won the first leg in Ireland. In order for Ireland to advance they needed to score two goals in the Stade de France or shutout France and score at least one goal in extra time (two 15 minute periods) and if the game was still 1-0 Ireland at the end of extra time, the game would go to penalty kicks.
Well, Ireland came out the gates fired up. They were clearly the better team in the first half which is why they went into halftime leading 1-0 when Robbie Keane scored in the 33rd minute. However, in the second half momentum shifted, but at the end of regulation, Ireland was still winning 1-0 meaning overall the score was tied 1-1 on aggregate forcing extra time.
During extra time, France dominated. Then in the 100th minute (I believe) Nicolas Anelka, juked Shay Given, Ireland’s Goal Keeper with a clear opportunity to score in the box to tie the game but Given, took Anelka down but NO penalty kick was called.
I was watching this game in a soccer hooligan’s pub and the audience was split 50/50 on France and Ireland supporters. The entire bar thought the referee called a penalty kick and none of the Ireland fans complained that the referee pointed at the spot in the box. We all thought France would now have the chance to take the lead in aggregates and finally advance to the 2010 World Cup. However, from the angle of the camera man, the ref did not point at the penalty spot… he was pointing for a goal kick! Again, referee missed a major call!
It wasn’t until the 104th minute when William Gallas scored after a right footed pass from Thierry Henry. However, the referee made another WRONG CALL. The referee pointed to the center stripe to acknowledge Galas’s go ahead goal. After a replay showed, Henry, clearly saved the ball from going out or bounds (baseline) and guided the ball to his foot and dished a pass to Gallas who headed in the goal. After seeing what Henry did, in slow motion, it was difficult to celebrate such a controversial and wrong goal.
France ended up winning 2-1 in aggregate goals earning them a spot in 2010. The ref missed two obvious calls:
1. One call, in favor of Ireland, when Anelka was taken down in the penalty box and NO call was made.
2. One call, in favor of France, when Henry clearly handled the ball with his hand that lead to the go ahead goal.
That being said, I think both calls were monumental and cancel each other out. The media is NOT talking about the MISSED penalty kick call on Anelka. So I recommend that everyone look at the entire game instead of just that handball!
France is in... I’LL TAKE IT! Maybe, FIFA should consider implementing replay?