London: Arsenal’s Thierry Henry has escaped punishment from the English Football Association FA following his goal celebration at Highbury on Tuesday night.
The striker pulled his jersey over his head after scoring the winning goal against Manchester City to reveal a message which British media said was to his friend, Texas pop band singer Sharleen Spiteri, congratulating her on her new baby.
The celebration was against new Fifa rules banning players from displaying messages on the pitch. “While Henry is breach of International Board regulations for lifting his shirt to reveal a message on his vest, on this occasion we will simply remind him of the ruling. No charge will follow,” the FA said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Clearly Henry was displaying a message of goodwill, as opposed to a political view or direct advertising,” added the FA, who said it would be writing to the France international.
Earlier, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was forced to defend his striker’s goal celebration amid fears the Frenchman could face disciplinary trouble.
“If you show emotion it is forbidden...you have to create rules but a spontaneous celebration is part of the game.”
Wenger conceded that Henry’s message was not a spontaneous act, but added: “I would not like to see that cut out of the game, especially if it is a nice message like Thierry’s. Obviously, players cannot have bad messages.”
It is not the first time Henry has shown a printed message on his vest after scoring. His goal wiped out Nicolas Anelka’s equaliser for City after Sylvain Wiltord’s earlier strike had given the English double winners the lead.
Wenger said: “Sylvain is on fire at the moment, and Thierry was on fire tonight especially. They are playing so well together, they always look like scoring.”
Henry also had a second half effort disallowed for offside, and Wenger said: “Thierry was unlucky...I felt it was not offside but what can you do'”
The win marked the 44th game in succession that Arsenal had scored, equalling Manchester City’s top flight record set in 1937.
“The record is a testament to the players’ will to win every game,” said Wenger. “They are ambitious and this team always wants to score.”