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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

FIFA's got it right this time

Have you heard that Ruud van Nistelrooy wants to leave Real Madrid in the January transfer window? The bigger news is that the Dutchman wants to snub Arsenal who have shown an interest in the striker to join Rafael Benitez's Liverpool.

If true, it could be a great move for Ruud. He excels in the English league as we saw during his time at Manchester United. His familiarity with the conditions and style of play will help him adapt pretty easily. Besides, since the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Kaka, Ruud hasn't featured in the starting line-up in Madrid and made brief appearance as a substitute.

Of course, after a knee surgery, Nistelrooy was out of the game for over six months last year and has been in and out since then.

Whether it will be a smart signing by Rafa, I am not too sure. Ruud will come in as a replacement for injured Spanish striker Fernando Torres. Ruud is 33 years old and nowhere near his best. His knee and ankle - both have been operated on - don't look strong enough to meet the demands of the physically challenging English game.

But that two top clubs -- Arsenal and Liverpool -- are interested in the player despite his trouble with injuries speaks volumes of the respect the Dutchman enjoys as a top striker. Yet, I don't think he is the answer for either clubs.

Another topic of discussion that has left me terribly amused is whether France should play a rematch of the World Cup 2010 qualifier against Ireland or not. Thierry Henry, the cheat, and Arsene Wenger, France's conscience-keeper, want the rematch.

To recap, the Irish were cheated out of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa by Thierry Henry's handball in the build-up to France's extra-time equaliser in the qualifier that ended 1-1. After the handball, unnoticed by the referee, Henry set up William Gallas who scored the decisive goal for France ensuring their passage to South Africa.

Of course it wasn't right. Henry cheated. Ireland deserved that berth in South Africa having outplayed France throughout the game. But does that call for a rematch? I don't think so. FIFA has ruled that the draw at the Stade de France cannot be changed and I am with the game's top body on this one.

There have been hundreds of instances where a team has won unfairly while the deserving has gotten cheated out. If one were to replay every match, there would be no end to it.
Handball is cheating, as is diving and may such offences. Sometimes the players get punished, sometimes such things go unnoticed. That's the nature of the game and part of what makes the sport so watchable. Else, Argentina shouldn't have been champions in 1986 nor Italy in 2006, who cheated out Australia in Germany.

Football is full of wonders, beauty, magic, skill, grit and flaws, cheats, pain, tragedy. It's all of it. Just like life. Ok, so Henry cheated. Just like 95 per cent other footballers, who have also cheated at some point or the other. End of story. No rematch please. Let's move on.

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