Uruguay's striker Luis Suarez last night escaped an extended two-game ban for the deliberate handball which denied Ghana a first African place in the World Cup semi-finals and has declared that he now possesses "the hand of God".
The Ajax player will only miss Tuesday's semi-final with Holland in Cape Town following the Fifa disciplinary committee's decision and Ghana's indignation is compounded by their belief that the ball, headed towards goal by the substitute Dominic Adiyiah, had crossed the Uruguayan goalline before Suarez handled it.
Asamoah Gyan, who missed the resulting penalty, said: "The ball went in. It did cross the line and the referee disallowed it. If it was our day the referee would have seen it and allowed the goal." John Pantsil added: "The referee should have recognised it was a goal." Uruguay's players – as well as the nation – conveyed no sense of regret or embarrassment about Suarez's offence. The Uruguayan newspaper 'El Pais' declared: "Long live the hands of Luis Suarez".
The Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez, who will be without midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro for the rest of the tournament and may also lose captain Diego Lugano with ligament damage for Tuesday's match, pointed out that Ghana had previously benefited from a similar offence. "Ghana has already been given a penalty because a player stopped the ball on the goalline," Tabarez said. "The only difference is that that goal was to equalise against Australia. This time they missed, but that's not our fault. The hand of Suarez is the hand of God and the Virgin Mary, that's how Uruguayans see it."