Of course Liverpool’s Luis Suarez is a cheat
IS Luis Suarez, Liverpool’s unlovely striker, a cheat? Let’s see what the experts say of the man who used a hand to set up his side’s crucial second goal against Mansfield Town in the FA Cup. Oh, the romance. The rules seem pretty obvious:
In Fifa’s Laws of the Game 2005, Law 12:
… a free-kick or penalty will be awarded if a player “handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area)”.
A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if he commits any of the following seven offences: • unsporting behaviour
What say the experts?
Premier League referee David Elleray:
“Referees look at two specifics – did the hand or arm go towards the ball or in a manner which would block the ball, or is the hand in a position where it would not normally be? The challenging decisions are if the defending player spreads their arms to make themselves bigger. If the ball hits the arm then the referee must decide whether this action was to deliberately block the ball or whether the player has raised their arms to protect themselves – especially if the ball is hit at speed.”
Tony Evans, The Times (Liverpool fan):
Spare us the false rage. Suárez merely did what he is paid to do: score goals. The howls of outrage are hypocritical. There are very few supporters who are horrified when their team cheat to score or stop a goal. Liverpool fans would have been grinning all the way back to Merseyside last night. Few bleeding hearts there…
Having spoken on behalf of all Liverpool fans, Evans imagines:
Those calling for Suárez to own up should consider the reverse scenario. Imagine a defender is hit on the hand in the penalty area and the referee misses it — as frequently happens. Would anyone expect the player to alert the official and ask him to give a penalty to the opposition?
If he is hit on the hand, no. If he hits the ball with his hand, why not?
It would almost be a sacking offence. So why would anyone expect the Liverpool forward to act differently?
Had Suarez admitted that he had controlled the ball with his hand to score a decisive goal against a team ranked 93 places below Liverpool in the romantic FA Cup, he’d have been sacked?
Evans than aims at moral equivalence:
There are some who are wilfully reckless on the pitch and put opposition players at risk. Worse, there are those whose fierce competitiveness leads them deliberately to hurt their rivals. This is where the focus of outrage should be aimed, at players who threaten health and careers.
So. Cheating does not damage the careers of Mansfield players?
Suárez is often the victim of those who try to use brute strength to stop the opposition.
Having turned Suarez into the victim, Evans questions the morals of they who says the striker is a cheat:
…when he is kicked up in the air, many of those who rage against his unsportsmanlike behaviour will take pleasure in his pain. They will enjoy the sight of a cheat getting his comeuppance. The duplicity involved in these moral gymnastics will probably not even occur to them.
It’s about the rules. Without rules there is no sport and no meaningful contest.
Miroslav Klose was playing in Napoli’s match against Lazio at the San Paolo. He scored to put Lazio up 1-0. Klose admitted he’d used his hand:
It has never happened in the history of the game. It will never happen in my lifetime.
Only, it has, Alan. See above.
Does Suarez’s previous go against him?
Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal:
“Who is the forward I hate to face? Suárez. He is tiresome to defend against. He cheats. He pulls your shirt, giving small blows. You always want to give him a kick but you have to be careful not to be red-carded. For example, on Sept 2 against Liverpool, it was the case with Luis Suárez. He is a player who likes to dive as soon as there is contact. During a challenge we jostled a bit with each other and he fell. He started to talk to me in English, to say it was a penalty.”
Bill Edgar (Times):
Hands-on approach Only 11 players have been booked for handball in the Premier League this season, among them Luis Suárez for Liverpool. Last season 14 saw yellow for that offence, one of them being Suárez. Look a little farther. This season, only two players have been booked after they tried to score with their arm: Adam Le Fondre, of Reading, and Suárez against West Ham United. Last season only one player committed this offence: Suárez against Wigan Athletic. At least he provided variety yesterday by avoiding detection when handling before he scored against Mansfield Town in the FA Cup.
Brendan Rogers, Liverpool manager:
“If it was someone else we probably wouldn’t be discussing it…But that is something the guy has to put up with. I am not sure what people want him to do in that position. I’d only say he’s got thick skin, he’s comfortable with his life in this country as a football player, and it’s part of his life. People are beginning to recognise what a brilliant talent he is.”
Are the victims upset?
Carolyn Radford, the Mansfield chief executive:
“It feels a bit like it was stolen from us. Whether it was deliberate or not, it should be sorted out. It was very unfortunate referees and officials can’t pick up these things. We should be at least having a replay.”
Alan Marriott, the Mansfield goalkeeper:
“To be fair it is football and I don’t think you can call him a cheat – I know people have done that in the past. He has probably done what every striker would do from Sunday football upwards, he has just put his hand out instinctively and has carried on. But when you see Luis Suarez laughing as he kicks the ball across the line then you know what has happened. Stewart Downing said to us after, ‘Jeez, I don’t know how the referee missed that’, and so we do feel we were unlucky to lose a game like that in the end, because we were so good in the second half we deserved something.”
Matt Green. Macclesfield striker:
“Obviously goalscorers don’t care how a goal goes in the net. I’m not saying it’s the right way. But obviously I would have taken it as well. But it’s just really gutting to go out of the FA Cup to a goal like that.”
Paul Cox, the Mansfield manager:
“I’m a little bit gutted. think we warranted something out of the second half. You can replay the second goal time and time again. Referees and linesmen have the hardest job in football, but you want them to accept the blatant ones.”
“It is instinctive but I would have liked to see him, as a sportsman, say: ‘I did knock it in with my hand.’ The reaction of all the players is obvious. It’s for the officials to see. If the fourth official can see it on the halfway line and yet the referee’s assistant can’t, you’d question that.”
“I would not accuse him of being a cheat. It was an instinctive reaction. We’ve seen this happen in midfield – you’re not going to say: ‘I’ve handballed it.’ It should have been a free-kick and maybe a yellow.”
The Rules are clear-ish:
PS: Mansfield Town reserved 96 seats for the fans who died at Hillsborough. They acted with grace. Did Suarez?