Smug Suarez sets awful example – should the rules be changed?

by Charlie Coffey

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

The behaviour and subsequent delight of Luis Suarez in the match against Ghana was shambolic and set a terrible precedent to youngsters watching the World Cup. He should be ashamed of the fact that his intentional handball is the reason that Ghana were knocked out of the tournament. Instead he is unrepentant and has gleefully claimed his act is the new ‘Hand of God’.

Thierry Henry’s behaviour in the World Cup qualifying play-off against the Republic of Ireland was a similarly instinctive piece of gamesmanship, but at least Henry had the dignity to apologise. He realised that his behaviour was wrong, whereas Suarez seems to think he is a national hero.

Suarez’s tears as he walked off the pitch were not borne from shame, as his celebrations when Asamoah Gyan missed his penalty with the last kick of extra-time revealed. The rules should now be changed to prevent children all across the world from imitating his behaviour and/or thinking it is ok to do so in the future.

At present, Suarez’s behaviour is not technically cheating. It is a straight red card and a penalty offence. Fortunately this kind of incident is rare as most people’s instinct is to try and defend a shot with any part of their body but the arm, but it may not be after this World Cup.
People may see the light punishment handed out by FIFA, who declined to extend Suarez’s one-match ban, weigh this negative against the positive, which is that Uruguay ultimately went though to the semi-final of the World Cup, and think that may be a worthwhile exchange.

The only alternative punishment for a blatant handball rather than a penalty would be to award a goal. For this to happen the referee would have to be absolutely sure that a. the act was undisputedly intentional, b. that there is no way anyone else, including the goalkeeper, could have stopped the ball entering the goal had the handball not taken place and c. that the ball was definitely goal-bound in the first place.

In the heat of the moment, with the limited perspective of one referee and an often crowded penalty area, the three requirements alone would be too much for the judgement of one man. Therefore my suggestion is this: for the rules to be changed along with the introduction of technology.

The referee is by definition susceptible to human error and while technology cannot be used at all levels of the game it should be used when as much is at stake as it was in this incident. After Lampard’s goal that never was and Tevez’s goal that shouldn’t have been this is the third different major mistake that could and should have been easily solved with a simple video replay.

It is almost as if the first World Cup in Africa is telling us that it is time for the game itself to move on as well. Listen up Mr Blatter.

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  • TRoss

    Excellent article Charlie, I totally agree that this was a despicable action that should not have been rewarded. Rewarded because ultimately the cheat won!
    I have read comments that have suggested that because the penalty was awarded and the red card given all is/was well. This is ridiculous, had Suarez not handled the ball it would have been a goal end of. What transpired was Gyan having to take a penalty under tremendous pressure, not only were the eyes of the world on him, but also the hopes of a continent. FIFA has failed football by not taking more drastic action, effectively saying that cheating is ok and a strategic part of the game. Sad.
    I had not realised that the referee had the power to award a goal, shame he didn’t do so, but then as you said, a lot of pressure on one man.
    Finally I think that if this travesty had knocked out one of the big nations, Brazil, Germany or even England the outcry would have been much greater. How would we have felt if England had been denied a semi final place because of this cheat?

  • Charlie Coffey

    Thanks TRoss,

    The referee currently doesn’t have the power to award a goal. I am saying he should be allowed to if a clear goal was prevented by a handball, but only if it is absolutely certain that it would have been a goal, which might be impossible to tell at speed, with a crowded area and from one perspective, which is why the ref should have the assistance of a video replay.

  • dexylongshot

    Spot on mate, spot on. We’ve banging on about technology on here for 2 & half years (yes i’m that old), at last Blatter is taking notice, it’s just a shame it has taken some terrible mistakes to make him realise; that, and the small matter of his re-election coming up next year. Gradually bring it in, it’s good enough for the Rugby and tennis and above all, it’s fair.

  • dexylongshot

    PS: Nice to meet you on Friday Charles, to meet you nice!

  • stevie

    The new Hand of God, bit of joke really! Why do South America’s cheat the most?

    Anyone else in his shoes would of handled it, but wouldn’t of celebrated the way he did.

    If he has any dignity, which he must have then deep down he will be hurting. If not, he deserves a massive slap

  • Martin Tibbetts

    What is reg difference between what Suarez did and a goalkeeper bringing down the last striker who is clean through. None is the answer you are searching for. Maradona sought to deceive a referee to earn a goal, Henry did the same. Suarez didn’t seek to deceive anyone, he blatantly handled, he knew he would punished and took the risk. It happens week in week out in football in one form or another.

    I know there are a lot of Arsenal fans on here so you’ll remember this example. Champions League final, Arsenal v Barcelona, Jens Lehman pulls down striker and prevents defeinite goal. He was sent off rightly and a penalty was given. What is the difference between that and Suarez? And I remember at the time all the gooners claiming the sending off was harsh!

    I think what Suarez did was the right thing, and were it not in the last second of a quarter final no-one wuld have an issue with it. He may have celebrated a bit much, but I think that is understandable….

    Can I also point out that with goal line technology, which I remain against, matters of fact can be decided, such as whether a ball crossed the line, but matters of intention cannot – they are all about interpretation and unless you are Matt Parkman from Heroes you cannot be 100% sure what went on in the players mind…..

  • mickey marbles

    “I think what Suarez did was the right thing”

    Sorry Matt, it isn’t the “right thing”,
    what you are saying is it’s alright to cheat, so cheaters prosper?
    how can that be “the right thing”

    At least with the camera technology being brought in, a high percentage of cheating like hand balls, diving, pulling down etc will be eradicated, surely that is better for the game than none at all. Even if it improves it by 1% it is better than nothing. Players will think twice if they know their antics will be scrutinised and it will be a much fairer game. Now that is what I call “the right thing”.

  • Martin Tibbetts

    Players actions are scrutinised already, from every conceivable angle, and they are sometimes punished afterwards. But that only opens up more dispute. Eduardo dives, is banned afterwards and loads of toys are thrown out of prams. Did he dive? I think so, but I don’t know so and no quantity of TV angles will tell me or anyone else otherwise. Stopping the game every 5 minutes will break it up, and ultimately create more argument than it solves. Lampard’s goal was an extreme case where it was blatantly obvious. Garcia’s in the Champions League semi against Chelsea – you tell me! The game has been played for decades, and as I have said before, controversy created by split second decisions is a big part of it. Its what we talk about afterwards, its what makes the game great. Goal line technology would be great for the TV companies, lots of drama for them to exaggerate, but it would be awful in the ground, and its there that the game is played.

    By the right thing I mean that he did what any defender would have done, and frankly if he were English we would all be hailing his self sacrifice in creating a turning point for us. Cheating is an emotive word. Maradona and Henry cheated, they deceived the referee and gained a goal. If handling on the line is cheating then so is a late tackle. They are deliberately breaking the rules, but they are not deceiving anyone. If Suarez is a cheat then so is virtually every footballer in the world, because all have committed a foul at some point…..

  • Dave

    At the end of the day Suarez did what every othe professional footballer would do….. he did whatever it takes to win the game.

    How many players have dived to win a penalty? feigned injury to get an opponent sent off?
    If it was one of your clubs players who did that in the champions league final and you team wnet on to win it you would see him as a hero.

    Right or wrong he did the right thing for HIS team and the won.

  • mickey marbles

    So it’s ok to cheat, to win at all costs, is that what we want to be telling our younger generations, keep on diving, handball if it’s going in, that’s the right thing?

    This is what is wrong in the game and we have a chance to eradicate 99% it and play fairly, what’s wrong in trying to to do that, sorry i think you two are talking codswallop.

  • Martin Tibbetts

    This isn’t what is wrong in the game. The list of what is wrong is very long, and headed up by players who don’t care about playing for their country, don’t respect managerial authority and don’t try, players earning 150,000 grand a week and clubs paying them it. Suarez sacrificed himself to give his country a slim chance of staying in the tournament. Any member of the Ghana squad would have done the same thing if the roles were reversed. And frankly, if you think that committing a foul, which is all he did, is so disgraceful I challenge you to condemn whatever team you support whenever one of your players goes down a bit easily, quietly tugs a shirt in the area, pulls down the last man, celebrates an offside goal or does anything that contravenes the rules. You need to get a grip of what is cheating and what is a foul.

    And you have chosen to ignore the earlier point I made that technology WILL NOT eradicate any of this, it will just spark more argument, more discussion and more controversy, and give more power to idiot TV pundits who most of the time don’t even understand the rules of the game because it is in the vast majority of cases OPEN TO INTERPRETATION….so how exactly will you eradicate 99% of fouls….

  • stevie

    this is what I think. And I’m sure Martin will agree with me.

    We should completely forget the Premier League as it’s so far removed from the international game.

    We should make it a number one priority to pick players from the under 17, under 21 squads. Simple as, it doesn’t matter if the players are not playing the first team. It doesnt seem to effect the Germans or Holland who have a 65 year left back.

    We cant do any worse than we have for the last 40 years. 1 semi final since 66 is a joke.

    So why not promote youth, and team spirit. That’s what we need, forget about the Gerrards, Terry’s of this world, cos it aint working! Simple as

  • stevie

    slightly off topic but wanted to get that rant out!!

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