Obiter reckons Ireland’s justice minister is interpreting his remit rather loosely. Dermot Ahern intervened to demand a replay last week after Ireland were cruelly denied a place at next year’s World Cup following a blatant handball by Thierry Henry which set up a decisive goal for France.
‘If that result remains, it reinforces the view that if you cheat you will win,’ said Ahern – in a noble, though doomed, bid to enforce the rule of law. It’s an admirable precedent, however. Where, we may ask, was home secretary Douglas Hurd (no justice secretary then) when Maradona and the ‘Hand of God’ thwarted England’s bid for glory at Mexico in 1986? Or Welsh secretary John Morris when Joe Jordan’s infamous handball at Anfield in 1977 took Scotland to Argentina at Wales’s expense? Nowhere, that’s where. We can only hope that Dominic Grieve has been primed by David Cameron to raise hell if a typical piece of Latin American skulduggery denies John Terry’s brave lads in South Africa next year. Not that England can possibly win, given the way the political wind is blowing. As Harold Wilson famously quipped, England only ever win the World Cup under Labour.