Although the moments have passed in which Ghana
Luis Suarez’s ‘Hand of God II’ in the very last seconds of extra time in Uruguay’s quarter-final with people’s favourite Ghana has not endeared him to the African public, nor most other people around the world, as a wonderfully romantic affinity for the Ghanaian team grew steadily inside many a football fan as they progressed throughout the tournament as Africa’s main hope for the title. Debates have been sparked and arguments have raged since the incident, with views about whether the on-field ruling to send the player off and award a penalty is right and just, and also whether the one-game ban for the offending player is enough, differing greatly.
There are, however, generally, two clear camps that have emerged when it comes to the on-field decision in such situations. The first is, unsurprisingly, the Oscar Tabarez camp. The Uruguayan Coach has stressed he believes the law is fine as it is, as sending the player off and awarding a penalty is punishing the offending side doubly, which is, according to Tabarez, more than acceptable for this kind of gross misconduct. On the other hand, some apoplectic Ghana fans and footballing romantics have suggested the goal should simply be given in these circumstances. And they have a point. To deliberately handle the ball on the goal-line to prevent the opposition scoring is effectively cheating, and cheating surely cannot be tolerated in any way. It cannot be debated that the ball would not have ended up in the back of the net either, so why not award the goal? If this law was implemented instead of the current one, then justice would be done immediately and Ghana would find themselves, deservedly, in a World Cup semi-final. Instead, the pressure and stark realisation that one penalty kick would send his country into that semi-final as well as send the whole of Africa into a blaze of euphoria never before experienced weighed too heavy on young Asamoah Gyan’s shoulders.
What makes Suarez’s handball the more repugnant and his character even less endearing to Africans is his ostensible self-satisfaction with the dirty deed. It was he himself who seemed to proclaim the action as the second edition of the ‘Hand of God’, and he seemed to revel in his effectively blatant cheating in order to give his team hope of reaching the next round. Perhaps if he had not been so seemingly proud of his achievement, the feeling of injustice would not stick in the craw quite as much.
The Netherlands are undoubtedly the better side, with Bert van Marwijk having seemed to gel his group of players impressively, and although they have not played the blisteringly brilliant football we may have come to expect from Oranje, the players seem to believe in the way they play and in each other. Their recipe for success is firmly ingrained in their brains and with Uruguay missing Suarez and Jorge Fucile through suspension, as well as Diego Lugano, the captain and lynchpin at the back, struggling with a knee injury picked up against Ghana, it is looking slightly more likely justice and fairness will eventually prevail. However, the last time a ‘Hand of God’ reared its ugly features at a World Cup the perpetrator lifted the trophy. That is at least a good omen for the Uruguayans.