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Sports Features of Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Source: Pobee-Mensah, Tony

With World Cup Comes Suarez Again

I know many Ghanaians don't want to hear the name Suarez again, nor does anyone want to be reminded of his despicable act against Ghana. I feel the same way too, but the fact that our leaders have not ventured to do anything about Suarez's act irks me more, so for this moment, please indulge me. Right after the pain of putting you through this moment, I will tune him out if his name comes up on my TV as I watch the World Cup.

Why is it that we are so impotent? Ghana, especially, had every reason to seek redress for what Suarez did to ensure that it will not happen again. Does anyone think there is anything that will stop Suarez from doing what he did again in the coming world cup? Does anyone doubt that if it is in their interest, others will do the same thing at the risk of getting expelled from the game at the 11th hour? Well, if it can happen again, it can happen to Ghana again. Are we waiting for it to happen again and then complain for a little bit and then let go?

Can what happened to Ghana happen to America without redress? Absolutely not. In the 2002 Olympics, Jamie Salé and David Pelletier, who were Canadians, were thought to be so good by the Americans, and Canadians of course that all you heard was they were going to walk away with gold in all their events. In their earlier event, the Russians won. Everybody accepted that. In the next event, the pair was supposed to do a routine that the commentators agreed was of less difficulty than that of the Russians. When the event ended, the Russians won. Ms. Salé cried, and the sympathies were with her.

I don't claim to be a figure skating aficionado, but I watched the event and I was impressed more by the Russians than by the Canadians. In my opinion, the Russians won fair and square, but somehow because American and Canadian commentators had said the Canadians were going to win and they didn't win and along with the girl's crying, they started saying that she had been cheated. Eventually they claimed that the French judge confessed that she had been pressured to let the Russians win. To make a long story short, following that, with the pounding in the American and Canadian press, the skating authorities changed the scoring rules.

When a referee missed England's goal against Germany to tie a game because the ball went into goal and came out from under the net, the outcry coupled with previous mishaps got FIFA's attention and now they have made a rule change to allow instant replay.

We do not have press that will speak for us. (Our own sports press still have not picked up that the penalty that Asamoah Gyan missed in our game with Zambia was not his fault.) We have Ghana Football Association (GFA) officials to speak for us. If Mr. Nyantakyi or any of his officials ever launched a protest with FIFA, and if it was in the press, I missed it. But I know better.

Following Suarez's act, I wrote an article suggesting an addition of a Purple Card to the Red and the Yellow that we already have and use it for acts that are so hideous that a team deserves to forfeit the game. Uruguay deserved that in their game with us and Ghana deserved to benefit from something like that. Such a card can be issued even after a game following consultations. Our football officials could have lobbied other African football associations for support and pressure FIFA to re-look at Suarez's act and assure nations that it will not happen again.

As we prepare for the world cup, the possibility that Ghana will be suarezed again lurks and our tongue-tied officials continue to say nothing.

Tony Pobee-Mensah