Papers in Ireland this morning are poring over the details of last night’s nail-biting clash between France and Ireland. The most contentious moment was Thierry Henry’s handball which led to France equalizing and thus qualifying for the World Cup.
The Irish Independent leads with photos of devastated Ireland players after last night’s defeat at Stade de France. The paper concludes that Ireland was cheated out of the World Cup finals because of the referee’s decision not to recognize Thierry Henry’s handball which set up a William Gallas goal in extra time.
Inside, the paper focuses on the disappointment of fans and the embarrassment of the French. “The French were embarrassed for sure. At the end they played loud rock music to drown out the singing of 15,000 travelling Irish fans, their own supporters muted.”
The Irish Times leads with a photo of a dejected Damien Duff with the headline, “Irish inconsolable as Henry’s hand all that separates the sides.”
The sports pages compare the Thierry Henry’s handiwork with Maradona’s “hand of God” in the 1986 World Cup. There is also regret that Ireland did not manage to secure a second goal that would have secured victory before extra-time. “Chances missed by Damien Duff and Robbie Keane will come to feature in Ireland’s book of historical World Cup woes. Henry though is sure to go down as the villain of the piece.”
Elsewhere, the paper quotes Richard Dunne who came out strongly against the decision of Swedish referee Martin Hansson over Thierry Henry’s handball. “The goal should have been disqualified for two reasons: the linesman was in line and should have given them offside then the referee should have given a free for a handball.”
“We couldn’t believe he didn’t. He said he said he was 100% sure that Henry hadn’t handled the ball.”
“But then Henry came over to us himself and said he had.”
As for FIFA, Dunne said, “The World Cup is run by people who want to decide who gets there, that’s why big teams get big decisions.”
Mark Larwrenson’s analysis says that Henry will have to live with his Maradona moment for the rest of his life. This certainly contrasts with the view in some of the French papers, notably l’Est Républicain, which says it will be forgotten about in a week!
Other stories in today’s international papers:
El Watan (Algeria)
The Greens beat Egypt and qualified for the World Cup. Viva Algeria
The Sun (UK)
Germans to block Blair
The Independent (UK)
The EU job contest dawn (don’t wait up)