So with nothing more than a stern look and a slap on the wrist Thierry Henry is free to continue his World Cup adventure, stolen so agonisingly from the Irish.

After a meeting of the FIFA disciplinary committee this week it was decided that no further action could be taken against the striker despite the fact he deliberately handballed twice in the build up to France’s extra time goal in the World Cup play-off.

Apparently only handball directly preventing a goal can be punished retrospectively – cheating a side out of a World Cup place is obviously fine.

So, rather like a toothless tiger, FIFA roared: “Handling the ball cannot be regarded as a serious infringement as stipulated in the FIFA disciplinary code.”

On the other hand it whimpered:   “There is no other legal text that would allow the committee to impose sanctions for any incidents missed by match officials.”

The hearing seemed to be an attempt to appease the Football Association of Ireland by making out FIFA are very annoyed at Henry’s actions, but still can’t do anything about them.

Football’s governing body also decided against taking firm action to prevent a similar incidents happening in the future deciding instead to hold “an inquiry into the benefits of video technology and extra officials”. The benefit being sides will no longer be cheated out of World Cup places, obviously.

Henry himself, perhaps rightly, has stayed fairly silent on the issue, though his whole ‘I considered international retirement’ speech was conveniently timed, only coming after a replay was ruled out.   It seemed like another sound bite to try and curb the increasing Irish anger.

If he was so upset why didn’t he admit it at the time? He was perfectly happy to celebrate the goal with his team-mates.

The whole thing leaves a bitter taste in Irish mouths and this will not start to fade until France are knocked out of the World Cup.

However, there is no doubt that France’s World Cup odds will have been given a boost by the news Henry will be available to play.

Meanwhile, in other sports news the odds for this year’s Cheltenham Festival have already started to hot up and could be worth keeping an eye on.

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