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Sports Features of Saturday, 3 July 2010

Source: Solomon Amanzulley Akesseh

Rewarding Cheating

This World Cup in South Africa has raised a long list of ethical issues against the beautiful game that I believe FIFA must address if the game is to remain beautiful. Controversial decisions from referees have made it pretty clear that Technology should be used although FIFA remains intransigent. The issue, however, that is most pressing is the deliberate hand ball fouls that players sometimes commit. This is what denied Ghana from qualifying to the Semi-Finals of the Cup. If FIFA refuses to look into this problem, then the message they seek to send is that cheating , however unethical and immoral, is useful and players can and should cheat to win.

Uruguay clearly did it today. Suarez, being the last defender on the line, deliberately arrogated the privileges of the goal keeper to himself and handled the ball. Had he not handled the ball, it is pretty obvious that Kwadwo Asamoah would have scored the goal. In such a case the rules were clear and the referee played fairly and promptly showed him the red card and awarded a penalty to Ghana. But therein lay the problem. When a goal has clearly been denied in such an illegal way, it is simply unconscionable for FIFA to try to solve the problem in a way that does not punish the opposing team as they deserve but rather rewards them.

FIFA should take a long hard look at this scenario. If a player is the last man on the line and he handles the ball, when he is not the goal keeper, then it should be an automatic goal. There should be no argument about this since it is pretty clear. The ball was on its way into the net and the player handled it preventing it from doing so. Why should an unsatisfactory solution be proposed when there is clearly a more satisfactory one? If a penalty is awarded, the pressure alone could make the taker miss the shot in which case the player who committed the foul would have been justified in committing it. And we saw it today when Suarez started jumping up and down when Asamoah Gyan missed the penalty.

FIFA and the rules of the game had justified his deliberate and low life cheating. I am sure Suarez is a national hero by now in Uruguay, but in the eyes of the rest of the world, he is just another cheat who has been rewarded by the system. It is simply distasteful. Sepp Blatter, together with the rest of FIFA’s governing body, should sit down and take a long hard look at the rules of our game. Goal line technology should be considered, instant replays too and hand balls which impede clear goals should be declared as goals. Then we will all be satisfied and cheats like Suarez cannot bring down the game. To the Black Stars, I say a job well done. You fought long and hard but a wicked conspiracy by the Fates kept you out. We love you and look forward to seeing you play again.

Solomon Amanzulley Akesseh

Grinnell College USA.