Last night's World Cup Qualifying Match between Ireland and France was always going to be close. I listened to radio commentary yesterday prior to the match and everyone said how it would go to extra time, be down to penalty points, be to the wire. These predictions weren't far off but no one would have believed that France would win the coveted place in next summer's World Cup with a contentious goal.
Before you think that I'm some bizarre football fan, which I'm not, I will say that I usually don't give a hill of beans and am very good at tuning out the constant drone of every sport imaginable as Paul sits in front of the idiot box every weekend. I do thoroughly enjoy rugby and tennis but that's the extent of my sports on tele watching. As far as football (soccer) goes, it's my least favorite sport with its young, overly paid thugs and their nightclub parties complete with young women hired to be eye candy.
But I have to say that the drama and excitement of the World Cup draws me in. It may be to do with the fact that we spent our honeymoon in France when it hosted the 1998 tournament. Or the fact that it is something different when you're playing for an allegiance to your nation rather than the club with the highest salaries. And this year with the imminent move to France and my obvious feelings about Ireland, I was even more interested in which of the two countries would be going through than I would be normally. I was strangely torn between them and a part of me has to admit rooting for France just for the excitement of a 'local' team to support from my new home next summer.
So it was with this mild interest that I paid attention to the radio pre-game and switched back and forth from Edward and Twilight to the match. I went to bed at 1-0 for Ireland near the end of the match. When I spoke to Paul this morning, he's been away, I asked about the final score thinking that Ireland had probably pulled it out and were heading to South Africa.
As you probably know, that was not the case. Nor was the win without controversy. Thierry Henry admits to handling the ball while setting it up to his teammate for the winning goal in extra time. There is no instant replay in football and American football fans cannot conceive of a game where a winning touchdown was allowed to stand because the referee wasn't able to see an illegal play. But that's just what happened last night. There is public outcry for a rematch. Politicians are calling it disgraceful and every Irish radio program has devoted air time to the questionable qualifier winning goal.
The Irish don't really like to make a fuss. Nor are they terribly good at standing up for themselves. Ancient history. But it seems that this time they're not going to take it lying down. I wonder what will happen. Up Ireland!