NPR logo Ghana's Black Stars Celebrated In Defeat While Handball Debate Rages

Ghana's Black Stars Celebrated In Defeat While Handball Debate Rages

A moment that will not soon be forgotten: Uruguay's Luis Suarez stops the ball with his hands at the end of the quarterfinal match against Ghana on July 2, 2010. Roberto Schmidt/Getty hide caption

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Roberto Schmidt/Getty

Ghana's anguished Black Stars toured Soweto Saturday, receiving a hero's welcome from residents that included Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife.

This was after their nail-biting quarterfinal defeat to Uruguay Friday night in a penalty shootout, robbing the Ghanaians of a place in the World Cup semi-finals — which would have been a first for the continent.

The team, with the words The Hope of Africa emblazoned on the side of their police-escorted bus, later met Mandela himself.  Striker Sulley Muntari told journalists the great man helped restore some of their happiness.

While the red carpet was being rolled out for the Black Stars in Soweto, soccer analysts and armchair commentators were busy at work dissecting Friday's quarterfinal cliffhanger between Ghana and Uruguay.

The topic of handballs dominated the debate. Now I’m no soccer expert, though I'm more than curious, so I’m going to quote someone in the know. Associated Press sports columnist John Leicester's take was short and sweet:

Uruguay forward Luis Suarez escaped with a one-match suspension from FIFA on Saturday for deliberately using his hands to slap away what would have been a certain match-winning goal for Ghana.


That is so wrong. FIFA should have sent him packing from the World Cup, deterred cheats by making an example of this one.

"Foot" and "ball." It couldn't be any simpler. The most basic rule is no handling by anyone other than the goalkeeper, and Suarez slapped it in the face.

Cleats welcomes your views.