Saturday, July 3, 2010

Now its hand of Suarez

Strange scenes in the final minutes of Uruguay's quarterfinal victory over Ghana on penalty kicks Friday night. Uruguay's star striker Luis Suarez proving to be a bizarro-world hero of sorts as he ended up saving his team from last minute defeat at the death of extra time with a blatant and deliberate handball right on the goal line. It got him sent off and preceded a missed penalty kick from Ghana's PK master Asamoah Gyan and Uraguay's eventual shootout victory.

After the game,Suarez announced that Maradona's Hand of God goal in the 1986 World Cup no longer holds the divine title:"It was worth it to be sent off in this way. It was complicated and tough. We suffered to the end but the hand of God, it's mine now."

With the score even at 1-1 and the shootout looking inevitable, the lovable, last African team standing forced one last assault on the exhausted Uruguayans in the final minutes of extra time. What came next was a surreal, yet nerve-shredding game of pinball as Ghana tried to pound the ball into the goal from point-blank range. The Uruguayans somehow just kept fighting Ghana off. Finally, just as it seemed Ghana had produced one too many shots for Uruguay to stop, Suarez put up his hands and slapped the ball away as natural as if he were a volleyball player.

The red card came out for the clear offense and Suarez walked off sobbing as Gyan prepared to seal what seemed to be a sure win for Ghana with one last penalty kick. He was an automatic from the spot to that point — even scoring Ghana's only two goals in the group stage from there. But this time, he missed off the crossbar. Uruguay's subs ran to alert Suarez of their sudden turn in fortune and a deflated Ghana team was forced into a shootout with the suddenly reborn Uruguay. From there, the South Americans won the shootout 4-2, even finishing it off with a cheeky chip from the master of the art, Loco Abreu.

With Uruguay's advancement through such a weird turn of events confirmed, the debate over whether Suarez was a genius savior or a Thierry Henry-level cheat rages. It's obvious Suarez used his hands with purpose, but unlike Henry, he was immediately caught and punished and will now miss the semifinal against Holland.

However, Ghana is now out of the tournament because of Suarez's decision to break the rules. Though Ghana did have a golden chance to make Suarez's efforts irrelevant with that Gyan penalty. Is there a correct moral view of this situation? Or is it just an unbelievable turn of events within a game that should be appreciated for its complexities? Luis Suarez doesn't care. His team plays on.

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