Luis Suárez - Hero or villain? | inside World Soccer


Luis Suárez - Hero or villain?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Luis Suárez's goal-line handball which helped Uruguay advance to the World Cup semi-finals has sparked a debate over whether the player was a savior or a villain.

With the score even at 1-1 in Johannesburg and the shootout looking inevitable, Ghana forced one last assault on the exhausted Uruguayans in the final minutes of extra time with a free kick from the right.

So Suárez moved to the goal line, where he first stopped a Stephen Appiah shot with his knee then put his hands and slapped Dominic Adiyiah’s header away as natural as if he were a volleyball player.

He was sent off but Asamoah Gyan's shot from the resulting penalty skipped off the top of the crossbar, sending the game to a shootout, which Uruguay won.


Suárez explained afterwards that he knew he could not stop Adiyiah's effort with his head and so used his hand.

But was it clear-cut, blatant out-right cheating or professionalism that ought to be applauded?

"Cheating? No," Uruguay coach Óscar Tabárez said. "Cheating is far too strong a word."

Diego Forlán, who scored Uruguay's only goal on a second-half free kick, added: "I think it was instinctive. The player instinctively stopped the ball.

"When Suárez had that handball he didn't know that Ghana was going to miss the penalty kick."

Milovan Rajevac, Ghana's Serbian-born coach, was as gracious as any human being could be under such circumstances and denied Suárez cheated.

"All I can say is that's football," he said. "Everything happened so fast. It really would have been a fairytale if it had ended well for us."

Even Gyan, who broke down and had to be consoled by teammates after the game, wasn't blaming Suárez.

"It's hard luck. We had the opportunity to win this game, but that is football," Gyan told reporters.

"I would say he's a hero now in his own country, because the ball was going in and he held it with his hand."

How Suárez's actions are interpreted is a matter of culture as well as perspective.

What might be regarded in Europe or Africa as cheating is seen as cunning or exploitation of the rules in other parts of the world.

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