In 1986, Argentina's Diego Maradona claimed that his controversial Cup-winning goal had been scored "a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God."
Friday, Luis Suarez showed Ghana and their millions of African supporters that gods' hands are also for cruelty.
The Ghanaians, level 1-1 with Uruguay in the game's final minutes, launched a furious assault on goal from a corner kick. Their first effort bounced around among the Uruguayan defense, but a second looked sure to score between Suarez and teammate Jorge Fucile as keeper Fernando Muslera lay helpless on the turf.
Then Suarez, with the ball floating over the goal line, did the unthinkable. He shrugged off his outfield position and the rules of the game to throw his arms in front of the shot.
Portuguese referee Olegario Benquerenca marched over calmly, his hand in his pocket, and held a red card high—the only punishment for one of soccer's cardinal sins.
What ensued, though, saw Suarez's transgression transform into Uruguay's triumph.
After Ghana's Asamoah Gyan—the hero of wins against Serbia and the United States, with two penalty goals already under his belt—banked his 120th-minute chance off the crossbar.
Third-string Premiership keeper Richard Kingson stumbled in the shootout, and one could almost hear infernal laughter while all of Africa fell silent.
Rest assured, Suarez will suffer for his crime. In accordance with FIFA's law, his red card is a suspension for Uruguay's semifinal clash against the Netherlands on Tuesday.
Against a side boasting international-class goal scorers such as Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder, Suarez's absence leaves the Uruguayans comparatively toothless aside from Diego Forlan.
Ultimately, whatever that outcome, it's still Suarez who's gotten the last laugh—one man against millions, throwing himself instinctively and cruelly against the ball that held Africa's soccer hopes and dreams.
Had he kept his hands at his sides, Ghana would surely have scored, sending Uruguay home as 2-1 quarterfinal losers. Even at the cost of his 36th international cap, Suarez will still have had a hand in his country's impressive World Cup run.
The hand of a god.
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