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The Suarez Handball: Ingenius or Infamous?

LuisSuarez (GettyImages)

It will go down as one of the most controversial plays in World Cup history, and the debate continues to rage on.

Was Luis Suarez's handball against Ghana an intelligent play and the right play, or was it cheating of the highest order and a smear on the game we all love?

What's my take? I think it was an instant reaction where Suarez realized his team's tournament would end if the ball went in so he did everything he could to stop it. He sacrificed himself to give his team a chance to survive. It was a move that almost any player would make if put in the same situation, and one I'd definitely make if put in that same situation.

What do you think of the play? Cast your vote here:

How did you vote? What did you think of the handball?

Share your thoughts on the play below.


  1. What I find most annoying about this is that no one would even care about it if Ghana had made the penalty kick. They’re just complaining because they lost.

  2. Hmmmm, don’t think defender taking down an attacker running on goal is quite the same thing. Suarez’ hand definitely, 100%, no doubt, stopped a goal. Taking down an attacker …. who the hec knows how that play would have turned out. If FIFA had half an ounce of brains they would give ref’s the power to forego the penalty kick and just award a goal when ball is handled so blatantly almost literally, in the net.

  3. actually– i think there is an intent element to the rule. The rule states that the ball must be “played” with the hands in order to be an offense. Ref’s merely make it a kind of strict liability when it is in the box.

    suarez made the right play. it was a violation of the rules. he was punished for it.

    p.s. i saw a couple of people use the word negligence early on. surely they weren’t talking about this play (obviously flagrant). isn’t an intentional act not negligent by definition?

  4. I assumed it was a reflex. I argued with my son that it was wrong, that it did not honor the game. He thinks it was a savvy move and what the player had to do, to do his best for his team (country).

    How was it different from Thierry’s handball?

    You might say that Henry avoided just penalization, whereas Suarez got his, but in that instant where action had to be taken, I think the instinct and thought was the same. How can one be smart and the other a disgrace?

  5. Henry’s Handball is very similar to Luis Fabianos handball earlier in this world cup. Both are ridiculous. FIFA needs to give out post-match yellow cards or red cards but only video replay will fix the issue as well.

  6. It is cheating!!

    Only the person that committed the handball on the goaline and his team are rewarded.

    FIFA needs to change or add a rule for handballs on the goal line. Whether it be an automatic goal or a penalty kick without no goalkeeper.

    I think it is completely assinine. FIFAs rules are so antiquated and the fact that alot of money is on the line with these games only makes the argument stronger.

    FIFA needs to do post-match assessments of all fouls, offsides, goals and cards. Then they need to make a report of every game and have some accountability to the soccer federations, coaches, players and their fans!! The sport as run by FIFA loses respect.

  7. Nobody disallowed a goal. That whole notion is a myth. There was no goal. The ball never crossed the line. Was the ball likely going in? Absolutely. Is it horrible that it happened the way it did? Absolutely, but stop making stuff up, please. Nothing was disallowed. There is no cynicism in the laws of the game that is intended to intentionally disadvantage one team over the other.

    Ask a player, any player, ask many players or coaches and give them two options… 1) goal counts, but player x stays on to fight for a tying goal. 2) player x is red carded and team y is awarded a penalty (with, by the way, no restrictions on who can take it). You’ll get a majority in your responses and I’d venture a guess it would be on the side of what happened.

    Here’s the caveat… time of the game absolutely CANNOT be a factor in the question. You don’t make rules based on exceptions. This would be a non-factor if it hadn’t happened in the 120th minute, and that’s the problem with all of this. We’re arguing the exception. I’ve tried to think of all situations when I would be OK with what Suarez did, and I can only think of one. This one. It sucks, yes, and I wish it hadn’t happened, but it did and in that situation, I am OK with it – despite my potential influence on the young, impressionable minds of our youth

    Spirit of the game… there is so much that goes on that is contrary to the so-called “spirit” of the game that you’d have to just scrap the whole thing.

    Cobi Jones’ twilight USMNT games…

    Coach: “Cobi, you know the drill. Get in there, take it into the corner and shield the hell out of it. Gonna hurt, but you’re the man.”

    Cobi: “You can count on me coach. I won’t fake injury, but I’ll do my best to make this the lamest 10 minutes of soccer yet.”

    Where’s the “spirit” in that?

  8. I don’t really care what happened after. It was a goal and should have been a goal.
    FIFA is as antiquated as the dinosaurs when it comes to its rules and enforcement of the game.
    Should have been a goal and a red card!!

    Surely, it is cheating and it was not some split second reaction. It was obvious they were going to do anything to keep the ball out of the goal. 2 players tried to stop the ball with their hands. 1 was successful. I’m surprised the Ref did not give 2 red cards or 1 red card and 1 yellow. Maybe pull a gun out and shoot the ball shooter??
    The rule is you can not use your hands. The player voluntarily used his hands, thus cheating the rules.

  9. Of course it was intentional. It was not a gag reflex, a hic up, a patellar tendon reflex, or a blink of an eye. It was not a “reaction” because Suarez would not have done it at midfield. It was a very fast decision, but it was indeed a decision. The mens rea element was in place, and the punishment needs to fit the crime.

  10. It was a very smart play, but the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. A handball in the six yard box should be a red card and a GOAL. That would deter such actions in the future.

    Also, while I know intent isn’t really a part of an official’s decision, I have a problem with attackers intentionally kicking it up at defenders mid sections in penalty areas hoping it hits off an arm and they get the call (NOT SAYING IT WAS THE CASE WITH SUAREZ, OBVIOUSLY). Defenders should not have to play with their arms behind their back and FIFA should institute and “intent” element to hand balls when it’s a bing bang play in a dangerous area and it’s not clear that a defender could have avoided it.

  11. The play looked dumb at the time, but in the end Uruguay is still playing. Who could have guesses the Ghana would choke on the PK and then in the shoot out? I would have done the same thing, though I do agree with many of the comments above in that Suarez should probably have gotten a bigger suspension. My guess is that he didn’t because there is no real way to prove he did it intentionally and that it wasn’t just a reaction play.

  12. FIFA needs to change the law. An intentional handball on a certain goal should be a goal. Award the goal and red card the player. This is a case of someone breaking the law and changing the outcome of the game. It’s black eye for the game and more fuel for the soccer haters.


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