FIFA may extend Suarez match ban to the final

Richard Whittall

A handball in the box in the 121st minute of play prevented a definite goal for Ghana. A red card was shown. A top-scoring player was sent off with an automatic one-match suspension. A penalty was given to the opposing team which, if scored, would have given them victory and a spot in a World Cup semifinal.

Nine times out of 10, this scenario would have meant you'd be reading about Africa's first World Cup semifinal appearance this morning, including a passing mention of Luis Suarez's crazy, last ditch effort to save his team from certain death.

[Photos: See Uruguay's Luis Suarez in action]

Yet after Asamoah Gyan smacked the ball off the bar in the ensuing pen and Uruguay won on penalties, FIFA faced the prospect of a World Cup final featuring a player who is considered a hero by some, a criminal by others, for violating one of the elemental laws of the game in a long-shot effort to win. So now FIFA is considering extending the Suarez match-ban to include the final, should Uruguay reach it. However, FIFA spokesman Pekka Odriozola said on Saturday that as a matter of routine the disciplinary commission would review any offense that receives a straight red card to decide whether it merited a harsher punishment.

"As is the case for any red card, any automatic red card in any match, there's an automatic one match suspension," said [FIFA spokesperson Pekka] Odriozola.

"And also the disciplinary committee opens the case for any automatic red card in any match.

"Which means the disciplinary committee will be looking at the incident and take a decision. We don't have any timing on when they will meet to take that decision."

Although it smacks a bit of moving the goal-posts after the fact, you can see why FIFA would want to make an example of the Uruguayan striker. Although a subsequent rash of players volleyball-spiking the Jabulani to row Z in the last minute of extra time to prevent certain goals, all in an effort to recreate Suarez's "glory," would be pretty funny. And, nine times out of 10, fairly disastrous for them and their teams to say the least.

Even so, it might be best for FIFA to allow this freakshow result to stand and let Suarez serve his minimum ban. Even if Uruguay makes it to the final, the neutrals need a pantomime villain/hero badboy to cast their hope/aversions. Plus, if Suarez scores a World Cup winner, FIFA will have inadvertently discovered the most powerful pub-debate fuel in the history of football.

UPDATE: And FIFA will give Suarez that chance. The disciplinary committee has decided that Suarez will be eligible to play in the final after serving his one-match ban during Tuesday's semifinal against the Netherlands.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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