Last week, Uruguay defeated Ghana in the World Cup quarterfinals after striker Luís Suárez deliberately blocked a Ghanian shot on goal with his hand. Suárez was summarily ejected, and Ghana's Asamoah Gyan subsequently choked on the awarded penalty kick. Uruguay then defeated Ghana 4-2 on penalties.
This has led a number of people to argue that Suárez didn't cheat by deliberately blocking the goal with his hand.
We have Luís Suárez and his handball to thank for the dramatic finish to what was already a dramatic and very entertaining match. I’ve read some criticism of Suárez, but anyone who’s ever played the game, or who understands the stakes, knows he had no choice. This is not cheating. It’s what a coach of mine once called “a professional foul.” Suárez committed an infraction, and the ref immediately and appropriately sent him off.
So, did he cheat?
No. He did the rational thing. It was perhaps not the sporting, moral, or ethical choice, and definitely the cynical choice, but given the nature of the match, he made the correct decision.
Whether or not it was the right play is beside the point -- you don't get red cards for clean play, you get red cards for breaking the rules. What Suárez did was the smart play, the right play, and the only play that could have led to an Uruguayan victory -- but it was also cheating. It may have even been the "moral" choice, since ultimately Suárez's loyalties are to his team, not even necessarily to the rules of the game. Certainly Diego Maradona would agree with that.
In any case, as heartbreaking as it was to watch Ghana lose that way, you can't miss three penalty kicks and expect to win the game. As a friend of my cousin's remarked right after the game, "Penalty kicks are like free throws, and today Ghana was Shaq."