It’s certainly not easy to care about Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, a man who spent the world cup tumbling every time I walked near the television.
But his controversial handball that effectively denied Ghana a place in the tournament semi-finals has mobilised a call to ban the player from the final/third place play-off and even extreme suggestions such as the introduction of ‘penalty goals’.
Suarez has thus far received a one match ban and John Leicester puts forward an argument for ending Suarez’s tournament all together:
So he’ll miss the semifinal. Suarez will be back, suspension served, for the final or the third-place match, depending on how Uruguay fares. That is so wrong. FIFA should have sent him packing from the World Cup, deterred cheats by making an example of this one.
Suarez certainly hasn’t helped his cause by coming across as arrogant and remorseless.
I made the best save of the tournament. Sometimes in training I play as a goalkeeper so it was worth it. There was no alternative but for me to do that and when they missed the penalty I thought ‘It is a miracle and we are alive in the tournament’. Now we are in the semi-finals although I was very sad because no one likes to be sent off. The celebration afterwards was impressive, but very quiet because nobody gave us a chance but, with courage, we move forward.
If this odious little fellow had any self-awareness whatsoever he’d have kept his mouth shut, uttering only a sincere apology for what he had to resort to in order to win the game. But, no. The closest we get to sorrow is the announcement that is “very sad” because he didn’t want to get sent off. Of course he will pay a price as the scandal will follow him around for a long time, something perhaps he hasn’t calculated yet because he is surrounded by team-mates and management who are thankful for his actions.
But there’s probably a fair argument to say that he will be judged in harsher terms because of his nationality. I wonder, say, if the offending punch off the line had come from a Ghanaian. I suspect that the international outcry would be more muted and the line “well he had to do what he had to do” would be certainly in rotation more frequently.
Leicester also dismisses requests for a penalty goal to be introduced – the award of a goal where one technically didn’t occur but absolutely would have.
t would be wrong in the wake of Suarez’s dishonesty to push FIFA for changes to the laws of the game so that referees could award goals that are illegally and deliberately blocked, even if they don’t cross the line. Basketball awards points for such eventualities, punishing teams for swatting away a ball that is already starting to go in. Ice hockey also allows umpires to declare in certain cases that a goalward-bound shot was a goal, even if the puck did not go in. Asking similar of soccer referees is not the answer. They are already struggling to keep pace with all the action in the fast modern game. Asking them to also judge whether a goal would or would not have gone in had X, Y, or Z happened, or not happened, will guarantee bad calls. Instantly calculating ball trajectories and whether a hand stopped it from hitting the net is a job for technologies like Hawk-Eye, not overworked referees.
I totally agree – this is a road that FIFA would do well to avoid. I’d feel as strongly about this in negative as I do about video technology in the positive. Penalties, red cards and suspensions have been deemed sufficient sanctions for over a century so let’s not over-react to this isolated incident. If the incident had happened in the 4th minute of the game, Ghana had missed the penalty and gone on to lose the game, it would not have been a talking matter. The fact that the feeling of injustice was amplified by it being literally the last kick of the game must just be put down to unfortunate circumstance and not used as a reason to start changing the fundamentals of a game that has far more pressing issues.
Leicester does outline the very simple solution:
A better solution is deterrence. Come down harder on cheats. Ruin the rest of Suarez’s World Cup like he ruined it for the Ghanaians and the millions of Africans who thought Adiyiah’s header was about to carry them to the first semifinal for an African team.
That’s always been the way the sport has worked. We deter drug cheats, corrupt officials and badly run clubs by imposing long bans or a points deduction. We’ve yet to figure out this deterrence for divers and those who feign injury but that’s another debate for another day. In the meantime let’s punish those like Suarez by ensuring they won’t play football for quite some time.
But, as it stands, his nation are rejoicing because they are within 90 minutes of their first World Cup final in 60 years.