Why Ghana hates Luis Suarez and Uruguay: Is revenge for 2010 World Cup quarterfinal handball coming?

Author Photo

For a moment, it seemed like Ghana were going to make history and become the first African country to reach a World Cup semi-final, instead it ended with Luis Suarez becoming the most despised man in Africa.

His blatant handball to stop a certain goal put an end to a wonderful fairytale story, appalling many across the footballing world. Ghana has still not forgotten about it, but they now have the chance to exact revenge on December 1 when the teams clash at the 2022 World Cup.

Not only is it the first rematch between the sides since that match, but Luis Suarez is still in the Uruguay side that needs to beat Ghana in their final group match to avoid an embarrassing group stage exit.

A win for Ghana would go a long way to healing the scars of 2010, and The Sporting News looks back at the event and why is was so controversial.

MORE: Ghana vs. Uruguay lineups, time and odds

What was the Luis Suarez handball incident?

The controversial incident occurred in the last play of a quarterfinal match between Ghana and Uruguay. The scores were locked at 1-1 in extra-time, with Diego Forlan cancelling out the brilliant opening goal from Ghana's Sulley Muntari.

Ghana were the last African side left in the first ever World Cup to be hosted in South Africa, so they had not only the expectations of their country, but also an entire continent on their shoulders.

Ghana put a free kick into the box where, after some chaos in the box, Dominic Adiyah headed the ball towards the goal where only Suarez and another Uruguayan outfield player were on the line.

It was surely a winning strike – except Suarez then stopped the ball on the line, denying a certain goal. The problem was that he used both hands in what was one of the most blatant handballs ever seen.

What happened next?

The referee immediately awarded a penalty and gave Suarez a red card as he had denied a clear goalscoring opportunity. And as it was the last play of the game, if Ghana scored they would have qualified for the semifinals for the first time ever.

But the drama didn't stop there. Star striker Asamoah Gyan – who had already scored two penalties in previous matches at the tournament – smashed this crucial penalty onto the crossbar, with TV cameras catching Suarez celebrating madly in the tunnel.

Ghana's confidence was shot, and while Gyan converted his next spot kick in the shootout, two of his teammates faltered, allowing Uruguay to claim a 4-2 win on penalties and ending Africa's representation at the tournament.

Uruguay would ultimately be unsuccessful in their World Cup quest, as without Suarez they fell to defeat against the Netherlands in the semi-finals, in what many feel was justice for the circumstances surrounding their win over Ghana.

What Suarez said before Ghana fixture

The former Liverpool and Barcelona striker was asked about the incident, in the build-up to this latest Ghana versus Uruguay match, showing little contrition for his actions on that fateful night.

He said: “I took a red card, it was not my fault that the Ghana player missed the penalty.

“You can’t keep thinking about the past or revenge.”

Scenarios for Ghana vs Uruguay 2022 World Cup match

Their clash at the 2022 World Cup group stage is the first time the sides have clashed since that fateful night in Johannesburg. And while it isn't a World Cup quarter-final, it is still hugely significant.

Uruguay currently sit bottom of the group after a draw with South Korea and a 2-0 loss to Portugal, and they must win to keep keep their hopes of progressing to the knockout rounds alive.

La Celeste have been very disappointing, especially when considering they have the likes of Suarez, Darwin Nunez and Federico Valverde at their disposal, and they will be desperate to finally get a win that would see them sneak into the knockout places.

Ghana, meanwhile, are in second place after defeating Korea 3-2 in a highly entertaining match, and a win or a draw combined with Korea failing to defeat Portugal would be enough for them to secure qualification to the round of 16.

It would also be a huge slice of revenge by eliminating the country that deprived them of a World Cup semifinal in their own continent.

Luis Suarez World Cup history

Believe it or not, this was not the first time Luis Suarez has caused massive controversy at a World Cup.

Just four years later in Brazil, Suarez was making headlines for all the wrong reasons when Uruguay took on Italy in their final group match.

The stakes were high as the winner would progress to the knockout rounds, Italy had a man sent off in the second half, and with just 10 minutes to go Suarez was caught on camera biting the shoulder of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.

Suarez would later claim that he slipped and fell into the Italians shoulder, but he was later banned for four months for the incident, including nine international matches.

As fate would have it, Uruguay scored a goal minutes after the incident as Diego Godin headed home from a corner, as the South Americans won 1-0 and eliminated Italy in the process.

Patrick Brischetto Photo

Patrick is a freelance journalist who is currently based in Sydney, and primarily covers football for The Sporting News.