Irish player Kevin Kilbane says the referee told him at half-time in extra time in the World Cup playoff match with France that he was "100 percent sure' that Thierry Henry had not handled the ball before the controversial goal that knocked Ireland out of the World Cup.
Writing in the London Sunday Times, Kilbane said, "a couple of us stopped playing when Henry handled the ball. I suppose we shouldn’t have because we might have been able to deal with the cross, but the handball was so blatant.
I probably had the best view, along with Shay Given and Keith Andrews. We were staring right at Henry. The initial handball, which he possibly couldn’t have avoided, took the ball away from him, but he cut it back for himself with the second touch of his hand. That’s what I saw and that is why I thought it was so clear.
I asked the referee at half-time in extra time: “Did you see it?” and he told me: “I can 100 percent say it wasn’t handball.” Those were his exact words. That is what made it even more annoying. I don’t know how he can make a comment like that when he hasn’t seen it.
I also asked Henry on the pitch, “Handball?” and he said: “Yes, it was handball, but I couldn’t help it.” He blatantly lied by saying it was unavoidable. I think he said the same thing to Richard Dunne when they were sitting on the ground at the end of the match.
So we just accepted his apology. It is a cold-hearted game. You can’t really blame Henry, even if we didn’t like the comments he made to me and a few of the lads, but in the cold light of day the officials have to see that and the responsibility has to lie with them.
There were plenty of tears in the dressing room afterwards and everybody was very tired. Then Brian McCarthy, our video analyst, came down and we saw the replay for the first time and that incensed everyone. There were boots being thrown and a few other things. You can imagine the language."