Whichever way you cut it, Luis Suarez’ goal against Mansfield should not have stood. But the blame must be put squarely on the shoulders of the match officials rather than the striker for the incident.
Gary Neville recently stated in a broadcast on Sky that in elite sport, players will do whatever it takes to gain an edge and follow the philosophy of winning at all costs.
The onus is then on the match officials to determine whether a player’s actions have broken the rules of the game and if they have, then the player should be dealt with appropriately, with bookings, red cards, bans etc.
He was making the point in reference to accusations of diving against Gareth Bale, but Suarez’ handball or any other incident could be looked at in the same way.
Roy Carroll was never accused of cheating, but it is hard to believe that he did not know the ball was about three yards over the line in the famous incident in the 0-0 draw with Tottenham for Manchester United.
According to Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, the fourth official told him that it was handball by Suarez and therefore the feeling was that it was not deliberate.
Even if the handball was accidental, the referee must gauge whether an advantage gained was sufficient enough to bring back play.
There is little doubt that Suarez could not have gained any more of an advantage so the goal should have been disallowed.
Micah Richards was penalised for handball when Manchester City were dumped out by Liverpool 3-2 on aggregate in a League Cup semi final almost a year ago.
The handball could not have been more accidental as the ball popped up a matter of centimetres from Richards’ thigh onto his hand, but it was deemed that it affected the path of the ball enough to warrant a penalty.
The final point that Suarez should have owned up to the situation is another that is slightly ludicrous.
Granted, it would have been a good deed that would have benefitted him more than most given his past labels of cheating.
But if he told referee Andre Marriner that the ball had struck his hand by accident, would the goal have been disallowed?
Referees rarely change their mind, as Robbie Fowler discovered when being awarded a penalty by Gerald Ashby in a Liverpool clash with Arsenal, despite protesting that David Seaman had not touched him.
Whether Suarez’ handball was done on purpose or not, the officials are in the position of authority to make a judgement call and form an opinion.
If they have not seen or misread a situation, be annoyed with them, not Suarez, who has only gained an advantage in a way footballers do on a weekly basis.
Luis Suarez specials for rest of season
Suarez to score a ‘hand of god’ before the end of the season – 50/1
Suarez to be booked/sent off for deliberate handball for the rest of the season – 4/6
Suarez to use his hand to block a goal bound effort before the end of the season (as per the last World Cup) – and be sent off for it – 16/1
Suarez to handle before scoring in any major cup final this season – 100/1
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.