Dear Mr. Blatter,

I appreciate your comments today in response to the obvious incident of cheating during the France-Ireland World Cup qualification match–“It is not a question of it being Thierry Henry or another player. But it was blatant unfair play and was shown all over the world.” And it’s right of you not to comment on whether Henry will be punished: let the disciplinary committee do its job.

At the same time, though, your words ring hollow, laced with a deep-seated smirk, much like Henry’s comment two days after the match: “Of course there is a hand but we’re qualified – the fact that it was in difficult circumstances only makes us appreciate it more.” The reason that Henry “had” to wait two days to make these comments is because you, Mr. Blatter could have stepped in and said something, could have changed this. Now, I’m not actually arguing that you should have necessarily. But you could have. And this makes both your comments and Henry’s after it was assured that his team’s qualification was not at risk, completely facetious. If there was a real problem, Mr. Blatter, then you should have dealt with it when it came up; if Henry was really embarrassed, or felt any remorse, he would have said something during, or immediately after the match.

More importantly, though is that these kinds of action cannot go unpunished. This blatant cheating and unsportsmanlike conduct makes a mockery of the game. It undermines the beauty of the sport, insults even the most casual of fans by glorifying the players who get away with cheating–Maradona’s or Messi’s hands of “God” come to mind. These players shouldn’t be glorified; they should be slapped with a sever fine, a long suspension, and a public rebuke. You need to send a message that cheating, in whatever form is not tolerated. Because that’s what Henry did: he cheated. We cannot blame the referees for not seeing the cheaters cheat–we have to stop them from doing it, otherwise we tacitly accept that players will always cheat. It’s stupid and shortsighted to argue that video-replay is the be-all end-all of this argument: Mr. Blatter, we need strong, harsh penalties for cheaters like Henry. A World Cup ban would be a good start.

Dear Mr. Henry,

You should be ashamed of yourself. You don’t need to cheat–you’re one of the best strikers of all time. How can you call yourself a professional sports player if you have to revert to these disgusting tactics to win? Is that what this sport is really about to you? What happened to the honor and grace that your country (and you) once showed, with Zinedine Zidane, Claude Makelele or Patrick Viera at the helm? Was that beautiful World Cup a fraud, Mr. Henry? Were you cheating the whole time?

Who are you to make a mockery of this game that we all love, that brings us together, that unites entire countries?

About Gabe Lezra

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides with the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon those with great vengeance and with furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know that my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee. Ezekiel 25-17.

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