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The Suarez handball and the case for penalty goals

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Excerpts from today’s World Cup Podcast, with Adrian Clarke and Iain Spragg:

Adrian Clarke: Hi, I’m Adrian Clarke and cheers for joining us on pint sized Soccerlens World Cup podcast. Hopefully you didn’t take too much notice of our pre-quarter final predictions which turned out to be absolutely useless…

Iain Spragg: Who would have thought it?

A: And I’m pleased to introduce the main culprit Iain Spragg.

S: We all have off days. I haven’t got a crystal ball, I can only go on what I see. Who knew that Argentinian team was a house built on sand? But apparently it was.

A: Yeah and the Brazilian team, you know. Yeah. Who would have thought they would capitulate?

S: With shoddy foundations when push came to shove.

A: I don’t even know where to start. Let’s start with perhaps the only South American team to make it to the last 4 – Uruguay. No huge surprise they made it past Ghana perhaps.

S: I think the Ghanaians were quite surprised by the end of extra time. I think they were bloody shocked mate (laughs).

A: Shock. Hard done by the Ghanaians surely. I mean this Suarez incident left a sour taste in my mouth, don’t know how you feel about it.

S: Yeah, you could argue he is perfectly justified within the laws of the game to get himself sent off as punishment. But in the context of the game and let’s face it, it is a highly unlikely one-off situation to be in that kind of pressure cooker game and that moment in extra time for that to happen… you know it’s once in a lifetime occurrence.

A: It’s not once in a lifetime occurrence, you see it all the time, players on the goal, it’s instinctive…

S: Yeah but if he done it in 63rd minute there wouldn’t be as much controversy because Ghanaians would feel that they have 25 minutes or so to pull back against 10 men, maybe they would have scored the penalty, it’s just the convergence of highly unlikely set of circumstances.

A: Yeah, absolutely. Speaking as an ex-player who was red-carded for the same offense…

S: When? You naughty boy.

A: Yes, it was one of only 2 pathetic red cards.

S: What was the other one for?

A: Shoving someone over.

S: I can’t imagine you shoving anyone.

A: I’ve raised my hands you know, I wished I punched him let me tell you. But anyway I was sent off for handball on goal line, standing on the post…

S: Tell me, was it instinctive or calculated?

A: Absolutely instinctive. I’m by the post, someone headers the corner down, it skids off unexpectedly high, I only think that stop it from going in is an elbow, I swing out an arm, I get red-carded, I take the hit. Unfortunately, they scored the penalty and the team missed me terribly as they would, went on to lose 4 or 5 nil. But…

S: The thing with Suarez was, it wasn’t just handball, he seemed to be lurched towards it with 2 hands in a sort angry Ninja style. He really did get a bit on it, didn’t he?

A: Yeah, he did. I don’t want to berate Suarez too much for this because most footballers in that position would have done the same thing but I do think it should prompt the rule change because it is ethically wrong, it’s cheating, it’s really cheating…

S: So what would you do?

A: Penalty goal. I want this introduction… you are a rugby man Spraggy, how does this work with penalty tries?

S: The referee has to be in his own mind convinced that if the infringement hadn’t occurred, a try in all likelihood would have been scored. So it doesn’t have to be 100% and obviously it’s a bit greyer in rugby.

A: But the interpretation of the ref has given a lot of licences in rugby to interpret…

S: The Rugby Union referee has much more free will to decide if he thinks… as I say the key phrase is «in all likelihood» whether a try would have been scored. But it’s not as clean cut because in rugby you are not just about to dive over the line and someone grabs you because that’s a tackle and it is legitimate. You can be 10 meters from the line, they can collapse the scrum, but the referee thinks well they’ve been killing them in the scrum all day so they would have rolled over.

A: So really in football it is more clear cut. Because you are not saying – he was clean through on the goal and he got pulled down, let’s give a penalty goal. What we are saying here is – if his hand hadn’t gotten in the way of the ball, it would have been a goal. That surely is obvious.

S: You are going to need videos for this, aren’t you? And then we are back to video replays.

A: Videos are coming.

S: You would definitely need it. Because you know, let’s not talk particularly about Suarez because it was very clear cut, everybody could see it as happened. But if you got a goal math melee, ball is heading towards the light, in comes, it mysteriously bounces out, referee is not sure, of course the attacking side will claim handball. The culprit, if there is a culprit is going to claim his innocence so if referee can’t see it you are going to need video replay.

A: Yeah I just, if a certain goal has been prevented, you know in the rugby scenario that the same result and outcome should be made and there should be a penalty goal. I’ll be honest, before this World Cup I haven’t really thought of that but I genuinely think it would be beneficial to the game.

S: But there is a punishment you know, penalty results, the team is down to 10 men. And he should have scored the penalty.

A: Of course he should. But…

S: I kind of feel sorry for him, it’s going to haunt Gyan for the rest of his life.

A: Absolutely. Will Africa ever have semi finalists in the World Cup after that? I don’t think, they are never going to have a better chance, aren’t they?

You can listen to this episode below:
Download link (mp3, 17mb, 18 mins)

Make sure you send in your feedback and questions through podcast@soccerlens.com and Clarke and Spragg will feature the best on the next episode.

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