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Did Luis Suarez cheat?

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Uruguay 1 – 1 Ghana

Uruguay win 4 – 2 on penalties.

For those of you who didn’t watch the match, in the 120th minute, literally the last few seconds of the 30 minutes of extra time in the match, Ghana had a series of shots on goal, three if memory serves me correctly (and it seldom does).  The first two shots were parried by the Uruguayan keeper and a defender on the line, legitimately.  The third, a header, was deliberately punched away — by Luis Suarez, a Uruguayan striker.  In other words, one of the ten guys in blue and black who technically can not touch the ball with his hands.  Unlike the 2002 Quarter Final match between the USA and Germany, the ref spotted the foul, red carded Suarez, and awarded Ghana a penalty.

Ghana make this penalty, the match is effectively over, and Ghana go through to the Semi Finals.

I’m not certain that Suarez considered the various probabilities in his decision tree, but he clearly, deliberately punched the ball clear, so he did make some sort of split second decision, on purpose.

So, did he cheat?

No.  He did the rational thing.  It was perhaps not the sporting, moral, or ethical choice, and definitely the cynical choice, but given the nature of the match, he made the correct decision.

If he doesn’t act, the ball goes in, and Uruguay are out.  Plain and simple.  If he acts, there’s a small chance that he does not get spotted by the referee (again, see USA v Germany 2002).  If he does get spotted and correctly sent off, there’s a chance that Ghana miss the penalty.  The odds of both of those events occurring in that order are slim, but as luck would have it, did indeed occur.  Suarez didn’t cheat, he operated within the rules of the game.  Odds are Ghana would have converted the penalty, and we wouldn’t be discussing this.  However, they didn’t, and continued to miss a couple more during the shootout.

The solution to this is plain (as plain as the solution to the Lampard disallowed goal in England v Germany): FIFA need to change the rule.  When it’s plain as day that the goal would have scored in the absence of this deliberate hand ball, they should go ahead and count the goal.  Goals scored are disallowed for any number of reasons; why not allow a goal that hasn’t crossed the line?

Discuss.

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