Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Hand of the Devil

What a game, Ghana v. Uruguay. As I watched that crazy ping pong play unfold at the Uruguayan net, I, like the rest of the world, saw the Uruguayan defender throw the Ghanaian ball out with his hand and his entire arm. I thought, surely an instant moment of desperation, not of diabolical cunning. Luckily, the ref sees it, takes out a red card and punishes the deed. Suarez is out and barred from playing in the next one, if there is one. He walks off the field crying into his shirt.
The Ghanaians get to kick a penalty goal, which can rocket them into the semis.
They miss.
Needless to say, the moment Ghana fails the penalty, Suarez forgets his tears and jumps for joy.
The game needs to be settled by penalties, a most unfair and horrifying way of settling a score in which two teams played soccer like their lives depended on it.
Even at the penalty match, both countries score against each other, both miss. But the Uruguayans simply display more sangfroid, nerves of steel and determination. They win the game.
People complain that cheaters won. True. But they were caught and punished and they still won, which is not the same as winning unfairly.
This was not the hand of God, as Maradona would famously claim after a similarly deviant incident. This was the hand of the devil.
This is soccer.  The beautiful, horrible game.

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