The Sweeper: Justice and Football

Henry handball

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He did it, we all know he did it, some think it was normal, some think it was the devil’s work, and Ireland want a replay even though FIFA have already ruled it out.

This brings us, of course, to the tricky question of justice in football. Some point out there traditionally has rarely been any; and Fredoracci points out that football just has about as much justice as the rest of real life.

But here’s the dealio, campers, something you should have figured out a long time ago: this type of shit happens a lot — a lot — in sport. Sport disguises itself as life honed and concentrated, as a palace of justice in Lego, all instant judgements and inevitable punishments. It dissembles its true nature: that it’s just like the rest of the universe. As a matter of course, players will skirt the fringes of legality, and will sometimes cross the line: our guys, their guys, everydamnone’s eyes. You just have to hope that the arbiters can do their best. What Henry did was wrong. But to pick on this one incident as being somehow especially contemptible is to be wilfully blind to all the sport you’ve ever seen.

Still, no-one’s going to be buying Henry a Guinness any time soon, so perhaps the eternal scarring of his reputation is some small justice outside the lines.

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