MLS Must Reject Henry


In my EPL Talk piece yesterday, I discussed all of the reasons that Ireland’s potential qualification was better for World Football than France’s would be.  Much of this thought process centered on the importance of American market to the success of the World Cup.

But alas, Giovanni Trapattoni’s side was defeated at the hands of Thierry Henry’s France. (pun intended) This is despite the fact that Trapattoni had been able to get a group of Championship and low end Premier League players (with a few exceptions) to play at a level higher than that of an allegedly world class French squad.  One of these (allegedly) world class players, Henry is consistently linked with Major League Soccer.

Henry is however, an acknowledged cheat. The player whose international career has never replicated his club form admitted that his handling of the ball was deliberate. Desperately unable to break down a well organized Irish side employing Trapattoni’s legendary tactics, the player who preaches fair play did exactly the opposite to qualify his nation illegitimately for its fourth successive World Cup. (Ireland has only been to three World Cups in its footballing history)

Henry is a footballer whose recent and blatant actions have brought the sport into disrepute, across the globe. In the United States a perception exists about diving and cheating in football. This perception which ails many a casual sports fan from truly embracing football would only be furthered by the signing of Henry. I would urge any and all MLS teams that have considered using a DP slot on Henry to cease the thought immediately.

Henry owns a home in Miami and loves New York. This makes him more willing and able to move to the US than most recognizable footballers.  But that is not reason enough to bring to America, a player whose actions and blatant disregard for the rules of this beautiful game have been made perfectly clear.  American impressions of this sport are created by snapshot moments: Pele’s dribble, Maradona’s hand of god, and Zidane’s head butt. Those impressions sadly last longer than they should, because by and large the average American sports fan really doesn’t get Football.

Few will know about Henry’s good work in the Stamp Out Racism campaign, nor his genteel demeanor. Nor do they care. Henry is perceived as cheat from here forward and this means that Don Garber and MLS team execs need to cross Henry off any potential list of DP signings in the near future.

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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
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57 Responses to MLS Must Reject Henry

  1. Tom says:

    Yes it was a handball. Yes it did cause a team a chance for to qualify for the World Cup. But unlike others Henry admitted to it. No one gives him credit for that. In a game like that where you are going for the win it is easy to make a mistake like that. I say cut him slack and move on. If it was so blatant then why didn’t the ref call it? It is not his fault. All this does is show there needs to be a major change to how a game is refed.

    • Matthew N says:

      Yeah I also admitted to speeding when the cop gave me the ticket. I still got a fine and a point on my license though…

  2. papa says:

    yeah cut the slack and move on. wat about the old irish players who are not young enough for another world cup? yeah u think thats fair?
    think before you type idiotic things tom

  3. Martin says:

    This is getting way out of proportion.
    Henry admitted that it was a handball. In the spur of the moment, what is he to do, stop playing and kick the ball out because it was a handball? When a WC qualification is on the line? Let’s be serious here.
    As to refusing Henry his spot in the MLS, that is just pure ugly frustration. How could you refuse a player of that caliber. If Henry does not deserve MLS, then please get us rid of Montero too. That way MLS will be “pure” and unadulterated, and oh, what else, fucking boring.

  4. Paul says:

    Would the Irish fans be up in arms if it was Robbie Keane who handled the ball and Ireland won?

    • .
      Robbie Keane would not have handled the ball and then passed to Richard Dunne in an offsides position and then celebrated not only the goal but putting one over the referee. Doing this sort of thing is inconceivable for certain players and in certain cultures and of a certain makeup.

      Keano would never have thought up such a scheme. So no, I reject your premise completely.

  5. Rich says:

    He made a mistake, he admitted it. Like Martin said before, what do you want him to do, kick the ball out? It happened in a split second. I’m not condoning cheating, but I also think a bit of perspective is needed here. To call something like that a premeditated act of cheating is ridiculous, it was impulsive. It was wrong, but it isn’t his job to make that decisions. Play to the whistle. I also agree that if Robbie Keane had done the same thing, rather than the vitriol that is being thorwn at Henry, the ‘luck of the Irish’ headlines would be everywhere instead. To even have a chance of signing someone like Thierry Henry the MLS should be bending over backwards.

  6. John says:

    ”Much of this thought process centered on the importance of American market to the success of the World Cup.”

    What exactly are you basing that on. The World Cup has been the biggest sporting event on the planet since it started. Football (soccer) is the most widely played and watched sport on the plant. No offence but it doesn’t need America’s interest to be a success.

    Fair play to you on the Henry comments though.

  7. The Gaffer says:

    Americans have very little patience and tolerance for cheats. I agree that MLS should reject Henry. He doesn’t have characteristics that fit what Americans look for.

    I can imagine he will be booed every time he plays over the next few months – especially if Barcelona progresses far into the Champions League and plays teams from England or Italy, etc.

    The Gaffer

    • England because of the sympathy for Ireland and the number of Irish players will be really out to boo Henry and in Italy, where Trap is seen as a coaching hero/legend, sympathy is very high for Ireland’s plight based on this AMs papers.

      Barca better hope they don’t draw Juve or Man U in the knock out stages.

  8. Joey Clams says:

    Let’s not put Ireland on the spot on this, gang. They shouldn’t have to explain themselves. Speaking of that, their Justice Minister now talks of putting Fifa on the spot with his demands for a replay. It’s nice to see someone stand up for once rather than take the crap. See that, Mr. Gulati? Every now and then you have to take a stand on something. Not on bad calls but on other matters. And you know what I’m on about.

  9. Matthew N says:

    I hope Henry comes to play in Columbus sometime and takes a corner right in front of the Nordecke. I’ll have a full beer ready to toss his way.

    • Adam says:

      You sir are classy. I hope you raise your children to one day be as honorable and respectful human beings like you.

      Nevermind, I really hope you never have kids.

  10. Chris says:

    You could tell from the first game that Ireland was not supposed to qualify. (See: the wide open goal shank.)
    So it wasn’t a matter of how France won, it was just when Ireland was going to lose.

    And had this been someone on a team you support you, would be defending them. and don’t lie. you know you would be.

    • Chris says:

      And Henry admitted he hit the ball with his hand to the press and the REFEREE…DURING THE MATCH. and the ref said “You are not the ref”

    • As I said above Robbie Keane is too sporting and honest to have done something like this. Landon Donovan, whom I admire as our nation’s best player has been called out by me in the past for both diving and whining. So if it were my national team, I would call the Henry equivalent out.

      • Chris says:

        As I said before:
        You don’t know that. You don’t know how his brain works in the 104th minute of a World Cup Qualifying match when the agg. score is 1-1; both away goals, and the ball is sailing towards him and he sees an opportunity.

        Even Robbie Keane couldn’t say he wouldn’t do that. He wasn’t in the position to do so.

  11. short passes says:

    As intersting as the hand ball may be for all Irish fans, the real issue raised by Kartik is whether MLS should decimate the budget of an MLS team to bring Henry to MLS. I say a resounding NO!
    I love Thierry’s skills but let’s get real.
    First, he is past his prime.
    Second, he will come with an outrageous pricetag.
    Third, the initial media explosion will fade quickly
    Fourth, and most importantly, his salary will mean that the lucky? team’s supporting cast will be weakened, and here’s the rub, that means that Henry will be on his own, to be keyed on by the defenses of every team he meets. Will sporadic flashes of brilliance really justify the cost?

    Don’t get me wrong! I’m a big fan of bringing in foreign talent — especially Latin American and African, but we need to do this smartly and cost effectively. Just remember that for all the hype about Beckham, it was only when Arena was able to restore the supporting cast for LA (decimated by Lalas) that Donovan and Beckham were able to shine.

    • Matthew N says:

      I think most will agree with you, but they don’t make these kinds of moves to improve the play, they do it to put butts in seats.

  12. Joe in Indianapolis says:

    What a whiny article. MLS needs villians as well as heroes, Kartik. I’m really getting sick of your all or nothing writing.

  13. Mike says:

    This is a very poor op-ed piece.

  14. It’s not this incident that is diminishing the credibility of soccer, it’s the subsequent over-blown controversy. Everyone knows that luck is a unyielding factor in every sport, game and incident in life. Henry’s handball is regrettable but certainly not a reason to discredit him as a player or try to prevent him from joining the MLS. If I were judged on the selfish decisions I made in a split second I doubt anyone would consider me a good person.

    People are completely forgetting the fact that this is a game. Sure, it’s a very important game, but its still a game. In a game there are winners and losers and like life…it’s not always fair. And who says their fate wasn’t deserved. I wanted the Irish to win as well but they failed to put away a second goal and seal Frances fate three times in the second half of the game.

    Kartik, you’re usually much more level-headed than this, you must have really been rooting for Ireland. The game won’t be replayed unless some sort of malicious intent is discovered from the referee (which there was none) and video replays will ruin the fluidity people watch soccer for in the first place. So everyone just relax and use this opportunity to explain to your children and childish friends that life isn’t always fair.

  15. P says:

    Henry is the freakin MAN.. AS a professional soccer player I would of done the same thing to win the ball game. As a competitor you do any to win games. Henry is a MAN because most will not even emit the truth(Maddonna, Loinel Messi, ect) that it was a hand ball.. Regrades of MLS and Henry are you kidding me.. This writer must be Irish and should get fired for this stupid article don’t know how they let him publish this!! Then again its that’s the type of writers that would be hired for this website. Henry is and will go down as one of the best players that ever played the game and you are going to X him from a MLS ROSTER spot hahahahahah pleaseeee.. Many teams around the world would want this guy, but not the BIG and TOUGH MLS league..(lol) Get on you job and Know what your talking about before you write anything. Sorry Irish its a game and in games shit happens all the time.. Tough lost Tough Luck!!

  16. Pat says:

    No need to go hypothetical, here.

    Kartik, how do you feel about John O’Brien? He clearly had an even more deliberate handball in the box against Mexico in WC 2002. He punched his hand up to knock the ball free. What is your stance on that?

    These things happen. You play until the whistle. This is 100% on the referee, not Henry.

  17. Cavan says:

    Very correct, Kartik. Our league should not pay huge DP money for a guy who will bring discredit to the game and product.

  18. good goal ireland is crap that was the best goal ever.

  19. Charles says:

    Great conversation. Obviously ethics in sports is something that everyone in every sport has had to take a stance on. I would rather be a poor MLS than a rich MLS with a cheater.

    Someone wrote:
    “Henry admitted that it was a handball. In the spur of the moment, what is he to do, stop playing and kick the ball out because it was a handball? When a WC qualification is on the line? Let’s be serious here.”

    I remember a baseball game I was watching and someone trapped the ball, the ump didn’t have a great view on it, and the announcer said obviously he is not going to give the ump any help. Why not someone ask? We were at a golf course, where the players keep their own scorecards. No refs needed.

    A replay would be fair in this case, I would doubt that FIFA which hasn’t solve the very easy cheating of diving will have the guts.

  20. Oranje Boy says:

    Having been a huge Arsenal and a big Henry fan over the course of the last decade, I have to say I am not very thrilled with his antics. He should have atleast had the decency to not celebrate like that. Its like he does a mistake, celebrates it vehemently, admits that he deliberately handled the ball, and then says it’s not his fault but the referee for not seeing it. What happened to Henry? He used to be an honest footballer. After going to Barca, without the guidance of Mr. Wenger, he has lost his way.

    Irish played good football and deserved to atleast have a chance for tie-breaker. Nobody knows whether they would have won the game, but at the least they would have been consoled by the fact that their team played well and deserved to win but came up short.

    I will still consider Henry to be a great player. He played in Arsenal colors for many years and scored some absolute crackers. He served the club well and for that I will always be grateful to him, but after this kind of theatrics, he has lost my respect and the respect of many football fans all over the world.

  21. evan eleven says:

    Kartik does good reporting work but this is typical of his wack-ass editorials. i think Henry’s Handball was instinctual and most footballers would do the same with the game on the line. it’s up to the referees and FIFA to police the game and clearly FIFA has no interest in a just result. so it’s up to us, the fans, to protest until the rules of refereeing are reformed with video replay or whatever is necessary to improve the game…

  22. Lonelycityfan says:

    First don’t leave your world cup future into the 104th minute second yes he said it was a hand ball but not once did he ever say he meant to I think the word deliberate was never used just that yes it was a hand ball COME ON what would happen if it was Keane or anybody else in the world can you see Donovan go up to the referee this weekend in the MLS cup game and say oops it touched my hand take away my goal!! IT WOULD NOT HAPPEN!!!!

  23. Oranje Boy says:

    This is what Henry said, “I will be honest, it was a handball. But I’m not the ref. I played it. The ref allowed it. That’s a question you should ask him.”

    Please pay attention to the words “I played it”.

    He also says that he went to the referee afterwards and said that he handled the ball, but ref overlooked him. Thats baloney!! he was celebrating the goal.

    Keane and Donovan would have received the same response from me and anyone else who is a neutral supporter, but they weren’t intentionally handling the ball in this particular circumstance, so your point is moot. Supporters have tried to use this kind of argument “they would have done the same”, but who knows for sure whether they would have done it or not. So basing your argument on something that didn’t/hasn’t happened is ludicrous.

  24. Ireland had many chances to put the ball in the net, but seemed to trip over themsleves. Keane would have done the same thing, it was big game and a big moment. Anyone who thinks differently is lying to themsleves.

  25. says:

    I agree with Kartik Krishnaiyer!!! There’s already too many niggers and spics in MLS. We don’t need another nigger, especially one who is a frog.

  26. neal capuchino says:

    mls new york need henry, to fill that stadium, to bring a beautiful dp to a aweful crap team in the league, their are cheats in every league in every sport, get real, this henry will do circle around the current journeymen of our mls. thank you

  27. pp says:

    what people fail to understand is that fifa fxxked Ireland over from the start. They changed the rules weeks before the play off and seeded the teams. They made Ireland play at home first to give france the advantage of home tie for the final game. the Irish team and manager have said they dont blame henry. They blame the ref and the corruption of fifa and uefa to give france every advantage to get to the world cup. fifa preach fair play but showed none of it to get france to the world cup. Its simply corruption! blatter – swiss french+ plattini – french = CORRUPT SCUM

  28. Davidge Partelwarl says:

    Ya know, I originally felt sorry for Ireland. After reading this…um…”article” I think what happened was hilarious. I love Ireland but do you really need them playing their spastic bunker ball in the World Cup? F’m.

  29. dan says:

    its not like he tortured and killed dogs. now if the MLS were thinking about bring Micheal Vick in then i would have problem. Stupid NFL.

  30. chris says:

    This op-ed is rediculous. It is the referees responsibility to call the game not the players. Players are suppossed to try to push the rules of a sport as much as possible in order to obtain an advantage to win. That is why referees are there so they can enforce the laws of the game. Its not the players responsibility. Do receivers in the NFL run to the ref and admit they trapped a pass on the ground? No. Do centers in the NBA run to the ref to admit they pushed the guy in front of them from behind in order to get a rebound? No. That is all the refs job. Henry will come to Red Bull and MLS will gladly take him. Anyone who thinks a handball will change any of that is living in a fantasy world.

  31. Elisee says:

    This is just crazy! The MLS better bring Henry along.

  32. Chew says:

    I feel like kicking something here…

    “MLS must reject Henry.” Seriously???

    Couldn’t believe the crap I was reading. “Henry is however, an acknowledged cheat.”

    Hmmm… Does this statement of genius somehow disclude just about every player that dives in order to get a penalty??? What a foolio!!!

    Someone needs to put down their pipe and back away, sloooowly.

  33. Kevin says:

    “The player whose international career has never replicated his club form” WTF???? Henry is France all-time leading goal scorer. The ref missed the call a players job is to play to the whistle. This hate machine that is directed at Henry is ridiculous, please move on. Teams have been screwed over in the past; the only way to solve this issue is to bring in instant replay.

  34. Dan (West Ham Fan) says:

    Wow, what a knee-jerk, hyperbolic, ignorant post.

    First and last time I’ll ever be on this site.

  35. Long Island Gooner says:


    I am a lifetime Arsenal and Henry supporter. He cheated. There is no question about that.

    But your statement that:

    “Robbie Keane would not have handled the ball and then passed to Richard Dunne in an offsides position and then celebrated not only the goal but putting one over the referee. Doing this sort of thing is inconceivable for certain players and in certain cultures and of a certain makeup.”

    is ridiculous and xenophobic. I been watching Henry ever since he started for Arsenal and I never, ever thought he would do something so disgusting. I been a fan of American soccer since the first grade and I don’t expect American players to cheat either so I was just as disgusted when Landon runs into Marshall and flops/dives in an MLS game.

    The point is anyone can become a cheat so to say Robbie Keane would not have done that is absurd. He won a penalty against Georgia which everyone knew wasn’t a penalty and we didn’t see him tell the ref it wasn’t. I lived for several years in England and Scotland and I know what you are referencing when you say certain cultures disdain diving and for the most part the footballing culture in the British Isles is anti-theatrical but when you say “inconceivable…in certain cultures” that is a prejudiced statement and forgetting that even in “anti-diving cultures” there are Wayne Rooneys and Michael Owens and yet to this day, there are imbeciles like John Terry and those writing for major English papers who believe diving is something only foreigners do.

    Thank you for your time,


  36. Dan (West Ham Fan) says:

    “Cheating once” and being labeled a cheat shoudl be different things. But I guess that wouldn’t get the article hits.

    Ignorance is rampant.

  37. CleartheBall says:


    I am NOT a Henry fan. I’m also NOT a fan of another cheater, Blanco. However, I will admit that Blanco has brought interest to the league. I am a MLS fan, so I say bring in Henry. I’ll root against him every game, but without good villians, there are no good heroes.

  38. A. Ruiz says:

    Blanco is a cheater? Name one time he cheated in MLS? He didn’t even dive once to win a pk. He barely even dived, he went down easily……for every time he got a foul called, there was one that wasnt. MLS defenders are bigger hacks than him, but no one calls them cheats.

  39. Raider says:

    This has got to be the most ridiculous piece of cow dung that I’ve had the displeasure of laying my eyes on in my entire life. Seriously, who ever claims ownership of it is a total and complete moron. Nothing else!!

    I don’t see how anyone can claim that Henry did anything wrong here, he only followed the first rule that every footballer is taught from the onset: Play to the freaking whistle! And besides, it’s not like he directly punched the ball in the net, where the hell was the marking on Gallas? It was the 104th minute of the second leg of a playoff game for God’s sake, and absolutely no marking on a player standing right in the middle of the box. Please! These Irish fools have absolutely nobody else to blame but themselves.

    PS: As a previous poster already said: “First and last time on this site”. You guys are pathetic!

  40. This goal was Ireland’s fault, who lets a free kick from near half field drop in the box? The ball drops at the six yard line and the keeper just stands there? That is the worst goalkeeping I have seen lately. Get yourself a new keeper for 2014. oh yeah and by the way try putting away a game for once. Good luck getting to Brazil.

  41. This is a bad column says:

    This is garbage alez les HENRY!

  42. benjamin says:

    quote” The player whose international career has never replicated his club form admitted that his handling of the ball was deliberate.”

    AH AH AH AH AH AH AH AH AH AH what an incredibly stupid statement.
    Henry is the best scorer ever in french national team history. He won the world cup and the european nations cup.

    The real cheat here is this blogger!!!!! shut up!

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