One of the basic questions asked when analysing any media text is ‘What is the source of the text?’ In other words, the value or validity of a newspaper article or a TV programme is to a considerable extent dependent on who produced that article or programme. This matter of authorship has been almost totally ignored in the snowstorm of comments on the recent clerical child abuse cases in Ireland. Yesterday, though, I received a copy of a letter which is on its way to the Irish Times: whether that fine organ will have the courage to print it remains to be seen.
Recent events have drawn to mind that night in November last. You will recall that Thierry Henry was guilty of a serious offence by deliberately handling the ball twice, in the World Cup play off between France and Ireland. This was a blatant abuse of the trust put him by society to act in a sportsman-like way. The person who had jurisdiction at the time – the referee Martin Larsson – lamely claims not to have seen the incident!
Apparently Henry has apologised but this is a hollow response to the victims nay the survivors of his misdeed – i.e., the Irish national team. I know that I am not a member of this team but still feel that I have every right to speak on their behalf in relation to the so-called “apology”.
To make matters worse, when the incident was reported to FIFA, the supreme leaders of football, there was an inadequate response by them, indeed a veritable cover-up. Apparently these good men said that they could only deal with a handball which denied a goal and not with one which assisted one. They also had the cheek to say that it was the responsibility of their representative at the match, the said Mr. Larsson, to make the decision.
I, for one, have not watched a football match nor entered a football stadium since this incident. Further, I will refuse to do so until the referee and the board of FIFA resign. The assistant referees say that they were not in a position to make a decision at the time and it was the responsibility of the referee. However this is to ignore the fact that they stand accused of being part of the governance of the match. They too should consider their position.
Finally the fact that I have not previously watched a football match nor attended a football stadium is irrelevant. In addition the fact that I have chosen not to support football by reason of disinterest, laziness or indeed opposition to the whole concept in no way disqualifies me from expressing my views as set out above.