Much ado about nothing: Luis Suarez’s “hand of god” handball

I would like to know which commentator would not have called Luis Suarez stupid for not trying to stop that goal. Is it Suarez’s duty to absolve every cheat, every diver, and handballer on this planet by an act of sportsmanship? Or does he try and give his country a chance to stay alive?
Maybe he should have stopped his hand and seen the ball sail through to goal. Yes, then have Chris Waddle calling him a moron for his attempt at moral redemption. Have the Uruguayans give him a collective finger for subverting a result that will finally move them out of the shadows of their southern neighbours?
Suarez’s infraction was detected, the rules were applied. He was punished. That did not happen in the Thierry Henry and Diego Maradona handball- one caused a country to advance unfairly, the other led to a country’s humiliation that still rankles a quarter century later. Yes, Suarez’s unrepentant and over the top reaction was unseemly but this is a false equivalence.
In this case Asamoah Gyan had his chance. A player who converted a spot kick twice in the same tournament faltered. It was a horribly bad ending but even Ghanaians know it was not Suarez who came between them and a historical precedent.
Why then is there so much teeth gnashing? Again it is not unsurprising that it is the English media that is leading the charge on Suarez. Their miserable World Cup failure has left them with little left to do other than co-opt moral outrage.
As Richard Williams puts it, “Poor Asamoah Gyan’s inability to convert the penalty that would have made them Africa’s first semi-finalists turned this into the biggest distortion of justice at any World Cup since West Germany eliminated France in the 1982 semi-final after Harald Schumacher’s assault on Patrick Battiston.”
Please spare me the sanctimonious claptrap about Africa. The Guardian’s insinuations regarding South Africa’s readiness to host the World Cup – publishing articles that regularly highlighted the crime rate, AIDS, delays in stadium construction, cost overruns, and closeness to Robert Mugabe shows they cared a fig about “distortion of justice.”
In retrospect, Suarez’s handball served a purpose. In all other instances this World Cup they were self destructive. Ghana benefited twice. Zdravko Kuzmanovic inexplicably interfered with a non-threatening cross – Asamoah Gyan was on target against Serbia. Gyan did not miss against Australia either after Harry Kewell clumsily handled the ball. Rafael Van Der Vaart’s moment of idiocy handling a free kick gifted Samuel Eto’o a spot kick.

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14 comments on “Much ado about nothing: Luis Suarez’s “hand of god” handball
  1. Hey did the right thing in my eyes. Doing whatever it takes to get the win for your team. IT was a bold move and in the end it payed off.
    Shame on the Africans for blowing the chance to make it to the Semi Finals.
    New Hand of God – Suarez

  2. So, just because others cheat that makes it OK?
    And in this case, the punishment does not fit the crime. A penalty shot and 10 men for 1 more minute is not the same as a goal, no matter which way you look at it.
    Personally, I think the punishment needs to be harsher, so that the this type of hand ball does not even cross the players mind.

  3. He is a cheat and if it was an African done that to south americans team he could be now in death threat. FIFA should have handeld Suarez an hefty ban and he should carry it over to the next world cup as well. I wonder what type of hero he thinks by cheating, anyway he will join his fellows after today match with Dutch to go and watch on screen the final. That is curse to Uruguayian team. we asked the same God who brought that curse to French team after cheating Irish team, and fans could see what happened.

  4. if u am from uruguay, i will love suarez for the rest of my life
    i will call him not a hero
    but a smart hero. he really took the right decision in less than a split of a second
    and u r right, if gyan scored the penalty, there will be no fuss at all about suarez
    in europe 2000 semi final france vs. portugal defender Abel Xavier saved by his hand a shot from Sylvain Wiltord at extra time
    zizou was much reliable than gyan, and he managed to make no mistake in the penalty. Xavier got a red card, but no one remembers him by any mean
    same goes for henry hand ball, i never thought he should have more blame or extra pnishment
    if a ref was closer or we had video replay, he would have got a yellow card
    the fact that the refereeing system today has some gaps should not end up by giving henry more punishment than what the rules say

  5. but with that,
    it is still right to say, Ghana exit was unfair
    as football is unfair sometimes
    and the question is:
    is it time to change one more rule?
    should a play like this be considered a goal???
    that is a ball going VERY clearly to the goal and someone saves it by hand?
    it is very bold rule, but open for discussion
    and most people around me rejects this idea
    sometimes we need tragedy to change the rule
    algeria 1982 won two games and didnt qualify to second round. it is the only country in history to win two games at group stages and still exit
    germany and austria knew exactly how many goals do they need to qualify both
    till today, all arab commentators calls it “the 1982 conspiracy of germany and austria”
    this was an indication of a gap in the system
    and in 1986 all football competitions got rid of this gap by playing last games at the same time

  6. I was deeply saddened that Ghana were denied their rightful advancement into the semi’s by a blatant cheat. What is more disturbing is that Suárez actually celebrated his cheating. Of course he was immediately disciplined with a red card and Ghana given a free kick – but clearly that was not the same thing. The handball stopped an otherwise definite goal, 100%. The laws of soccer should be reviewed and if you deliberately cheat to prevent a goal – then the goal should be awarded immediately and a free kick should be awarded.
    There should be an extremely harsh punishment for a deliberate handball – perhaps 10 matches or even life ban…. that would put an end to this practice altogether.
    What a shameful comment by Suárez.

  7. I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I agree with the blogger… it is just way too much about nothing.
    Next time any of you are playing in a world cup and have a chance to keep your team in the competition by throwing your hands out to save a goal, come back and say something (Specially when it happens on the very last play of the game).
    Take a look at just about every defensive replay and you’ll see shirts being pulled, shoulders being held to prevent jumps, etc. Even the penalty awarded to Paraguay against Spain where the Spanish player wasn’t just kind of holding, but blatantly pulling the guy’s arm, is common in every single professional game you see.
    Call it cheating, call it being hero, call it whatever you want, the guy was penalized according to regulation and saved the day for Uruguay, Ghana clearly had a chance to win, and missed a golden opportunity.

  8. Posters… He is not a cheat, these are the rules. Not only was the penatly kick awarded, but his absence likely lead to defeat againt the Dutch. I agree, much whining not deserved.

  9. The spirit of the game has suffered.
    It seems there is a problem when one needs to breach fair play to gain an advantage.
    I think anyone can agree to that.

  10. Ok Jose Rodriguez, let me get this right… you come to a soccer-blogging site, and the only comment you can make is that is like a bunch of third graders kicking the ball around?
    First, try to do what these guys do. Go and play for 90 minutes sprinting back and forth, passing the ball with the speed and accuracy that we’ve seen some of these guys display and then, maybe then come back and say something useful.
    Otherwise, find a site of a subject that you have in common with others and help bring your topic of choice to live.
    Either way, please refer to Mark Twain’s great proverb ““It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.””

  11. Great response, s_olie. Could not have said it any better. It amazes me that people can still be so ignorant. As for that Mark Twain with all that verbal nimbleness – he would be a goalie if he played soccer!

  12. I am wondering where the line should be drawn between cheating and fair play? To illustrate, let me pose this hypothetical: instead of a handball to keep the ball out of goal, Suarez blatantly tackles the Ghanian player from behind when he has rounded the keeper and all he has to do is dribble the ball into the net. Is that cheating? He prevents a clear goal and gets punished with a red card and a penalty kick for Ghana. Can the handball really be differentiated from the aforementioned situation? It’s difficult for me to say that it can or should be.
    As others have said, perhaps the best solution is a change in the rules that grants the other team the goal they would have scored when the handball keeps the ball from going over the line. However, before we make that change consider whether, in the aggregate, this is a better solution than the current one in almost every situation but the one that occurred. If this happens in regular time, having to play a man down is a huge advantage, arguably moreso than merely getting a goal especially if the teams were less evenly matched than they were in this case. I don’t think a goal and a red card is a solution, that seems much too harsh to me (although reasonable people can disagree on this point). Anyway, just thought I would offer these thoughts up to see what other think.

  13. Invariably when these things happen the field of vision is obstructed by many players all in a frenzy of movement unlike the clear cases of “goal tending” that one sees in basketball. It’s hard to prove intent without video replay. Giving a penalty goal and sending off the player is akin to having a trial without evidence. Straight to jail and a goal down – a penalty kick is a bit of a leveler in those circumstances.

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