Thierry Henry, who is thought to earn more than £15 million a year from sponsorship deals and his club Barcelona, found himself pilloried yesterday for his unsporting behaviour that helped to secure France a berth in the World Cup.
Politicians and Internet users fuelled the backlash, calling on sponsors to dump him and threatening to boycott the products he endorses.
Thierry’s 2007 messy divorce is being hailed as child’s play compared to the effect this “unsportsmanlike” conduct could potentially have on his bottom line. But maybe he can weather this storm quite fine.
Henry, who was born and raised in Paris, has built a personal fortune on an undisputed talent admired well beyond North London, where he became Arsenal’s record goalscorer during an eight-year career. His mixture of football flair, French sophistication and sex appeal has been carefully packaged by publicists to transcend sport, helped by his genuine efforts through his charitable foundation to combat racism in the game and support projects tackling social inequality.
The strength of his following, and his owning up to the handball after the game, may be enough to ensure that he rides out the controversy with little or no damage to his reputation.
We hope they are right. Because we like Thierry just like the next one.
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