Because of this abominable series of actions (on Thierry Henry’s part) and inactions (on the part of the officiating crew who missed two handballs and a clear offsides), France is in the World Cup.
What if they play each other? Wars, massacres, the legacy of colonialism, repression, current racial tensions in France’s larger cities, the ghosts of Algerian-born French players from Zidane all the way back to Villaplane…all of it adds up to what would be maybe the most politically fraught World Cup matchup in the history of the tournament. Other contenders would be West Germany’s 1-0 loss to East Germany in 1974, Argentina-England in ’86…I’m sure there are plenty of others from the Cold War era that I’m not coming up with off the top of my head. For homerish reasons I should probably also mention US-Iran in 1998, but the memories of that one still rankle. So pretend I didn’t mention it.
Part of me hopes that FIFA, which is commonly assumed to rig its World Cup group assignments, makes this match happen. Mostly because I want France to go down in flaming humiliation after the way they got to the Cup.