Luis Suárez's handball: Cheating isn’t cheating if you don’t think it is

Football is only a reflection of that society - and that doesn't say much about us

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Luis Suárez should be given a job in the Cabinet. He’s the footballer who’s been called a cheat, after he handled the ball just before scoring a goal for Liverpool in the FA Cup, and experts are undecided as to how he should be dealt with. And you can see the difficulty, because with such a brazen attitude towards cheating, he ought to be running one of our major institutions.

Suárez appears to have grasped how society’s rules have changed. Under the old system, if you cheated you hoped you weren’t caught. Now you don’t mind getting caught, you just announce that cheating isn’t really breaking any rules, and carry on. Football is only a reflection of that society.

So in his next match, Suárez could place the ball in a Sherman tank and drive it through the goal, flanked by marines who assassinate the opposing goalkeeper. His manager would say, “I can’t comment as I didn’t see the incident, but his first touch was astounding”. Match of the Day would debate whether the commandos were interfering with play. And after he’d scored 60 goals this way, the Football Association would set up an inquiry, in which Suárez would say he couldn’t recall ever playing football in his life. The inquiry would propose a limit on the number of tanks in each half but this wouldn’t be implemented as Suárez would be outraged at the restrictions on his freedom.

Or he could learn from the Deputy Prime Minister, by pledging to abolish handball at all times in every way, including by the goalkeeper, with fines for anyone who even carries the ball to the ground. And then spend the next match throwing balls in the goal, before announcing: “I’m really, really sorry to have made such a foolish promise. I’m sure you’ll understand that from now on I’m going to do this in every match.”

Maybe the first part of each footballer’s training now is to study the banks. The coach says: “This lot were caught bringing the whole economic system down, but did they bother looking sheepish? No, they insisted on an extra bonus as it would be even harder clearing up the mess than it was causing it. If they can do that after causing a global recession, you can do it after diving in the box.”

As the attitude towards cheating is so similar in different fields, football pundits should be regular guests on the news. So Alan Shearer could say: “You can see from this angle, the police have definitely falsified 116 documents, but the ref hasn’t blown the whistle so they’ve got away with it.”

Some commentators suggested that Suárez should have owned up to his foul, but with the modern rules, even if he’d announced on the Tannoy, “I punched that ball in the goal ha ha ha”, the referee would have let it stand, but suggested at some point in the future someone should set up a self-regulating body made up of prominent figures from the handballing community.

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