Former French international Emmanuel Petit has admitted his national team were “ashamed” about Thierry Henry’s handball, which killed Ireland’s chances of making it the 2009 World Cup.
The infamous incident, which occurred during the playoff, led to the William Gallas goal that ultimately finished Ireland’s hopes of going to South Africa. The fall-out was hysterical, with Henry achieving war-criminal status in Ireland, and saw the FAI call to be given a place at the World Cup as 33rd team such was the level of outrage.
“To be honest with you we were all ashamed after that game obviously because that is not the way we wanted to go to the World Cup,” said Petit.
“That was not acceptable for us. Even for the players on the pitch, I spoke with William Gallas, he’s a very good friend of mine, and he said the same thing. But at the end of the day it was not our decision. There were referees on the pitch and officials. FIFA could have done something. They could have replayed the game three days after that…
“I tried to talk to [Henry] about it afterwards, but this is something he wants to avoid because he’s not proud of it. But I can understand what happened. He had a reflex on the pitch. He received a lot of pressure before the game and instinctively you do things you cannot control. But that’s not an excuse. I think we should have replayed that game.”