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Hand it to the French
by Paul Kennedy, November 19th, 2009 7AM



[WORLD CUP 2010 QUALIFYING] France, the 2006 World Cup runner-up, left it until late to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, and when it did controversy quickly followed. Star Thierry Henry admitted he handled the ball with his hand on the sequence that led to William Gallas' overtime goal that broke the 1-1 aggregate tie with Ireland.

Thierry Henry Interview:

Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni blasted Swedish referee Martin Hansson for not at least consulting his assistant after  Henry, falling over the endline, touched the ball with his left arm, not once but twice, and then kicked it in the direction of Gallas' head.

Ireland goalie Shay Given and his Irish teammates immediately ran down Hansson to protest Henry's handball but they were unable to convince to overturn the goal.

"I'm not only disappointed, I'm also saddened," said Trapattoni, who after the second period of overtime went on to the field to talk to the referee. "I told him that I'd known many Swedish players and I know the Swedish people, but that it's possible you've made a great mistake. I think he should have at least consulted with the linesman. I don't want to say it's Henry's fault. It's all about the notion of fair play. But I'm sure if the referee had asked, Henry would have admitted it was a handball."

Henry did such that.

"Yes, I handled the ball but I'm not the referee," said Henry, who is headed to the World Cup finals for a fourth time.

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