The legendary Luis Suarez of Uruguay declined to apologize to Ghanaians on Thursday for his infamous handball at the World Cup 12 years ago.
Friday’s must-win Group H match in Qatar between the South Americans and the Africans is a rematch of the infamous quarterfinal in South Africa in 2010.
In order to stop Dominic Adiyiah from scoring on a header at the very end of extra time during that tournament, Suarez purposefully handled the ball on the line.
Although Asamoah Gyan missed the subsequent penalty after Suarez received a red card, Uruguay won the shootout and advanced to the semifinals.
While Ghana missed out on becoming the first ever African team to make it to the World Cup semifinals, striker Suarez became an instant hero in his native country.
Suarez responded that he had no regrets when asked if he was aware that Ghanaians thought of him as the “devil” twelve years later.
“I don’t say I apologise about that because I take the handball but the Ghana player missed the penalty, not me,” said Suarez, speaking in broken English.
“Maybe I can say I apologise if I tackle and injure a player and take a red card, maybe I can apologise.
“But in this situation I take a red card, the referee said ‘penalty’. It’s not my fault because I did not miss the penalty, the player missed the penalty.”
Since the World Cup draw, there has been much discussion about Ghana possibly seeking retribution, and many of the African team’s supporters have taken their anger out on Suarez in advance of the pivotal match.
Suarez, however, insisted that the match was over and that discussing retaliation was pointless.
“Those that are talking about revenge… were eight at the time, they have only seen it in images,” said the former Barcelona and Liverpool forward, now 35.
“You can’t misinterpret everything. When we played Portugal the players were talking about revenge for being knocked out (by Uruguay in 2018) but you can’t live in the past.”
There was much more at stake for both teams, according to Uruguay’s coach Diego Alonso.
Ghana could also be eliminated if they lose, while Uruguay must win to have any chance of moving on to the round of 16, while Ghana must also win.
“I don’t know how Ghana will approach it, whether or not it’s revenge,” said Alonso.
“For us it’s a decisive match, that’s what matters to us. We’re doing the best we can, respecting our opponents, but we don’t view it that way.”
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