Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Harrington riled by Henry’s cheers after handball incident

It wasn't Thierry Henry's cheating which infuriated Irish golfing legend Padraig Harrington . . . just the way in which it was celebrated.

Golfers are governed by a duty of honour to report any transgressions on the course.

And if any Tour pro had been caught in such a flagrant breach of the rules as Henry was at Stade de France, he'd be shunned by colleagues and drummed out of the sport.

So Harrington found it especially hard to watch Henry dance jigs of delight with scorer William Gallas after blatantly controlling the ball with his hand in the build-up to the crucial goal.

Even French Ryder Cup star Thomas Levet was embarrassed by what he saw, saying he'd contact his fellow countryman and good friend, UEFA President, Michel Platini, to urge the introduction of the video referee in soccer.

“The celebration of the cheating was particularly galling,” said Harrington after shooting 68 in yesterday's first round of The Dubai World Championship.

“Everyone can make a mistake but then to act like it never happened . . . it's strange.

“I was brought up differently in golf,” said the Dubliner, who has lost count of the number of times he's called foul against himself at tournaments. “As a young player you're taught to govern yourself and you just do it.”

Soccer players are trained not to handle the ball but Harrington believes it's possible for them to do so instinctively. “I'd categorise that as a reaction, a mistake,” he said.

“The great thing in golf is if we do something wrong, we hold up our hand and say 'hang on a second, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to do that'. Then we go back and take our penalty.

“To me that seems perfectly reasonable but it didn't happen in this case and I found that celebration pretty hard to look at. Of course, they have referees (in soccer) so it can come down to what you can get away with. It's a different way of playing sport.”

Levet, an avid football fan, said: “It wasn't a pleasant thing to happen to the Republic of Ireland, and from a French viewpoint, it was not a satisfactory way to reach the World Cup finals. Even the players seemed to feel that way.

“Michel Platini's a good friend and I'm going to ask him why they do not use the video in situations like this.”

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