The Reds' striker appeared to handle the ball past the Mansfield goalkeeper en route to finding the back of the net for Liverpool's second goal but, much to the disgust of the opposing team's players and manager, the goal was allowed to stand for Liverpool.
The Reds would go on to win the match 2-1, with Suarez's goal the biggest talking point of them all, with mixed reactions felt right across the globe as to whether the Uruguayan international's actions were correct or not.
However, much of the controversy stemmed from the live call of the match in which ESPN commentators labelled Suarez a "cheat." They felt, obviously, that the Reds' striker had deliberately used his hands to gain an unfair advantage rather than the incident being an accidental ball-to-hand, which it turned out the officials had interpreted the action as.
Yet their comments would spark a media circus once more on Suarez, with the "cheat" label firmly attached to the striker's name thereafter.
Jon Champion's throwaway line of "that, I’m afraid, is the work of a cheat" might have seemed catchy, but the comments could not have done more damage, which is why ESPN have now taken the extraordinary lengths of reprimanding the commentator.
According to The Telegraph, the media giants have been forced to apologize for their coverage of the match and the comments made during it, stating that they have spoken to Champion about the comments he made.
An official statement from ESPN read:
We take our responsibility to deliver the highest standards of coverage to our viewers. ESPN’s editorial policy is for commentators to be unbiased and honest, to call things as they see them.
Inevitably this can involve treading a fine line on occasion, especially in the heat of the moment. Comments during the Mansfield vs. Liverpool match caused offence where none was intended and we have spoken to our commentator about this incident.
The reaction from the media outlet is clearly the action that needed to be taken, with the controversy surrounding the incident no doubt accentuated by the comments made by Champion, as well as by Mansfield chairman John Radford.
Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler commented via Twitter:
He could not be more correct on the matter.
Commentators out of order.... It hit his hand but he couldn't get it out of way.. Both calling him a cheat, wrong— Robbie Fowler (@Robbie9Fowler) January 6, 2013
Regardless of the incident that had taken place, those involved in the match need to know that whatever they say will draw more people's attention to their position. That is, if they say positive things, then people are more likely to affirm those things.
Yet when they say negative things, and straight out call people a cheat, the general public is going to be swayed by their biased opinions. When the referee has ruled that Suarez had not cheated, then maybe, just maybe, it's time to accept that those involved did in fact make the wrong call.
They should have remained silent on the matter, letting those on the field and in the club's management make the comments for themselves. Which, given the diving controversy and all that we've already seen from the Liverpool striker this year, might not be bad advice for us all.
Is it wrong to label Luis Suarez as a cheat following his goal?
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