A London youth club I'm involved with tries to instil sportsmanship and fair play in every boy who plays for one its nine football teams. How much harder this task becomes when the exhortations of mere mortals have to compete with an example set by one of the world’s greatest players and (I'm a lifelong Gooner) a hero of mine.
Thierry Henry’s cheating moment is already on the TVs and computer screens of young footballers around the world and some, alas, will try to imitate it. But what if he had admitted the handball to the ref? Now wouldn’t that be a YouTube clip to die for - one that every parent, teacher and coach could deploy when promoting the integrity of sport.
He may not, as he says, be the ref. However, he is a sportsman with a duty to be sporting. By delegating personal responsibility for his actions to the ref, he has tarnished the great game he has graced for so long.
I wonder if Thierry’s advice to his own son would be to ‘cheat if you can get away with it’ or to ‘do the honourable thing’?
If it were to be the latter, I’d love him to visit our youth club and say so to the young footballers for whom he is an inspiration.