In the blink of an eye and flash of an arm, Uruguay's Luis Suarez became a hero in his homeland but a villain worldwide.
In the dying seconds of last night's dramatic quarter-final between Uruguay and Ghana, the Ajax hotshot denied Dominic Adiyiah a certain goal as he batted away the ball with his hand.
Suarez saw red and a penalty was awarded to Ghana. Asamoah Gyan, who had previously scored two penalties in the tournament, duly stepped up and blasted the ball off the crossbar and over in what was the final kick of the game.
Uruguay persevered in the resulting penalty shoot-out to set up a semi-final encounter with Holland.
Over the last number of hours, Suarez has been condemned for his actions.
He has been blamed for putting "Africa" out of the World Cup. His reaction to Gyan's penalty miss did little to endear him to those who had jumped on the Ghanaian bandwagon.
But is Suarez really a villain, and did he really put "Africa" out of the World Cup?
To answer the latter question, it is an obvious "NO." Africa put Africa out of the World Cup.
Once again, many of the African countries entered the tournament having replaced their managers just months prior to the World Cup. This chopping and changing hasn't worked for them before, and why they still continue doing it is rather curious to say the least.
The Ivory Coast went out at the group stage in a whimper, with only a victory over North Korea to show for their limp efforts.
Nigeria were so bad, even their president can't stand the thought of watching them again any time soon.
South Africa never had high expectations coming into the tournament, and it was no surprise to see them becoming the first hosts to exit in the first round.
Algeria and Cameroon weren't up to standard either, despite their best efforts, so it was left to Ghana to carry a continent.
And this reflected in the match build-up. It was billed as Uruguay vs. Africa, with Ghana aiming to become the first African side to reach the semifinals of the World Cup.
Without Suarez's intervention, they surely would have done so. However, it wasn't Suarez who knocked Ghana out. It was Gyan's lack of nerves that knocked them out.
It is harsh on the young man, but maybe if he felt like he was only carrying the weight of Ghana on his shoulders and not that of the whole of Africa, he might have held his nerve?
Either way, his courage in stepping up during the shoot-out must be applauded.
Did Suarez cheat? Yes. Was he punished? Yes.
Yet, today FIFA are debating whether he should be banned for the final, should Uruguay overcome Holland.
Is this fair? Hardly.
Speaking on RTÉ last night, former Rep.Ireland adviser Liam Brady argued that Suarez had acted out of desperation. Brady argued that Suarez knew if he let the ball pass him, that it was curtains for his country.
Suarez still took a risk because the balance is always in favour of the penalty-taker. However, he had reduced Uruguay's certain exit to a probable exit. In the end, his gamble paid off.
The difference between what Suarez did and that infamous handball by Thierry Henry, was that Suarez got punished, Henry never did.
Yes, Henry's name has been dragged through the mud, but only by fans and the media. NEVER by the powers that be in football, and therein lies the hypocrisy.
Why do FIFA feel the need to stand behind Henry but seek to punish Suarez further?
It really is as simple as internal politics.
No one can but agree that FIFA and UEFA wanted France at the World Cup. They changed the rules to seed the European play-offs so UEFA President Michel Platini's homeland had an increased chance of making the finals.
Following Henry's handball, Blatter and Platini spent more time laughing at the Irish than they did at looking at the prospect of goal-line technology.
How foolish they look now following Frank Lampard's "goal" against Germany, and Carlos Tevez' offside opener against Mexico.
Although, Sepp Blatter did apologize to both England and Mexico for the inept performance of the officials and duly sent both referees home.
Is it strange then that the FAI are still awaiting an official apology and that the referee in charge that night got rewarded with a World Cup spot?
Makes one wonder....
Now, Suarez is facing the brunt of an angry continent.
Of course Ghana can feel aggrieved. Their definite victory was turned into a probable one and one they failed to take advantage of by missing the penalty.
Let's face it, if Gyan had tucked that away, not one person would be talking about Suarez today.
But we are talking about Suarez today and knowing the hypocrisy of FIFA, he will receive an additional ban to make sure he misses the final.
Why? Not because he deserves it, but because he knocked out "Africa." This is nothing more than FIFA looking for excuses and favour. Sadly, they always seem to find them.
There is shirt-pulling, diving, and handballs in virtually every game.
The strange thing is, had Suarez tripped a player in the box to stop him scoring as opposed to blocked the shot with his hand, people wouldn't have blinked an eyelid.
What is the difference? Is the outcome not the same? Red card? Penalty?
These questions need to be asked and answered.
The question must be also be asked as to why FIFA tried to brush Henry's handball under the carpet but have gone and fed Suarez to the wolves?
People wonder why there is still cheating in the World game, and indeed so much of it. You only need to look at the inept people in charge to find your answer.
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