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Page last updated at 12:44 GMT, Thursday, 19 November 2009

Stamp out football cheats - Clark

Kenny Clark
Clark says the debate should not be about officials, but about players cheating

Former Scottish referee Kenny Clark believes Fifa needs to crack down on cheating in football or it will continue to blight the game.

Clark said France striker Thierry Henry should be ashamed of himself for cheating in the World Cup play-off victory over the Republic of Ireland.

Henry handled the ball in the build up to William Gallas's decisive extra-time goal to seal a World Cup finals place.

"As long as players get away with it they'll keep on doing it," said Clark.

Barcelona striker Henry clearly handled the ball to stop it going out of play and then set up Gallas to nod home in the 104th minute.

It's all very well for Henry to say afterwards that he did handle it - it's no consolation to the Irish players

Former SFA referee Kenny Clark

The goal proved decisive at the Stade de France and left Ireland little time to reply having taken an early lead through Robbie Keane's strike after 33 minutes.

Clark insisted the debate over the handball incident should not focus on Swedish referee Martin Hansson's failure to spot it, but on Henry's dishonesty.

"Fifa need to do something very strongly about this," said Clark.

"It was deliberate handball by Thierry Henry, and the goal should have been disallowed.

"That said, I can understand why the referee didn't pick up on it, Henry was almost side-on to him, and his left hand, which was the hand that played the ball, was on the wrong side of the referee.

"But, the whole issue should be about the match officials, it should be about the actions of Thierry Henry, and the fact that yet again, we have footballers cheating and taking advantage of their cheating to achieve a result."

Thierry Henri
Henri admitted to handling the ball after the win against Ireland

Uefa introduced goal-line officials to patrol the penalty area at Europa League matches this season, but Clark is unsure if it would have made any difference in the case of Henry's deliberate handball.

"I would like to think that if there had been an official on the goal-line, it would have been picked up, but we've already seen even in the course of the line-judge experiment that the match officials are still fallable and will sometimes miss things," said Clark.

"It's all very well for Henry to say afterwards that he did handle it - it's no consolation to the Irish players.

"If it had been a Scotland player and he did that, we would all be saying it got us to the World Cup and we would be shrugging our shoulders at it."

Clark added: "No-one can say it was anything other than blatant cheating. Thierry Henry was probably as vociferous in his celebrations as anyone else.

"He was making sure the referee thought it was a legitimate goal.

"If he had stood still and looked guilty, the referee might have thought there was something amiss. Instead of that, he led the celebrations, and he should be ashamed of himself.

"He should be banned from the World Cup finals."

Motherwell manager Jim Gannon insists that football should embrace the use of technology to ensure major decisions are correct.

"I've talked about technology for quite a while. You can go back to the Maradona incident nothing was ever done against him or Argentina. That game was never replayed," said the Irishman.

"Basically what we do is turn a blind eye to cheating and I'm sure in this particular case that's what will happen - nothing will get done.

"If this was any other sport, American football, rugby or cricket it wouldn't be allowed to happen.

"This is a billion pound industry, possibly the biggest there is, yet we don't have simple technology that can make sure decisions like that are right."

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see also
Reaction to Republic of Ireland exit
19 Nov 09 |  Football
Irish 'cheated' by Henry handball
19 Nov 09 |  Internationals
Fifa rejects Irish replay request
20 Nov 09 |  Internationals
France 1-1 Rep of Ire (agg 2-1)
18 Nov 09 |  Internationals
World Cup qualifying as it happened
18 Nov 09 |  Football
Republic of Ireland 0-1 France
14 Nov 09 |  Internationals

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