Former Arsenal and France winger Robert Pires retired from international football in 2004 following a dispute with then manager Raymond Domenech.
During his eleven-year stint with the French side, Pires had a number of tussles with Ireland in both friendlies and qualifiers but the ex-Arsenal man was perhaps lucky enough not to be involved in the most infamous clash between the two sides in 2009.
Thierry Henry’s handball to set up William Gallas’ extra-time goal infamously secured France’s spot in the World Cup in 2010 at the expense of Ireland, despite a litany of protests and objections from the footballing world.
Robert Pires had been highly outspoken following the incident, criticising Henry’s actions and claiming that he would not celebrate the qualification due to the manner in which it occurred.
Speaking last week at the Street Legends Community Football Event ahead of the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying draw in Dublin, Pires explained that despite it being almost 10 years ago, Henry’s handball is still a relevant example to use for the universal introduction of VAR.
“Of course for the country, it was a good night because we won and qualified for the World Cup,” began Pires.
“I remember even now for Theirry Henry it’s not so easy because some people say ‘you are a cheat, you played with your hand, it’s not fair play, it’s not football’, so I think the worst is for Thierry Henry.
“This is why I think VAR is so important. If you introduce it in every game it can be very important for the players and the teams and of course for the ref. I think the ref needs help and for me VAR would be a good solution.
“If VAR was around in 2009 the ref could have watched the video and said no the goal is not valid because Henry used his hand. “
France qualified for the tournament in South Africa but performed incredibly poorly amidst severe unrest between the players and the management in the camp.
Pires believes that the controversial way in which his country secured qualification may have had a bearing on their abysmal World Cup campaign.
“The way in which they qualified was a big factor for the team and the players and even Thierry Henry because this World Cup for him was very difficult, especially the relationship with the manager.
“This was the worst World Cup for France for a lot of things. That’s why sometimes it’s better when you stay at home! This was an incredibly bad World Cup for France and yes maybe it started against Ireland.
“It could be karma!”
Footballing legends Robert Pirès & Gaizka Mendieta were in Dublin to showcase their skills at the Street Legends Community Football Event ahead of the UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifying Draw.