In the first-ever African World Cup, Ghana were the last nation from the continent standing. History was on the line for them as they were playing to become Africa’s first World Cup semi-finalists. But a handball from Suarez prevented The Black Stars from winning in the final minute of extra time and ultimately helped eliminate them.
To this day, the Ghanaians have not forgiven Suarez and Uruguay for this act. Speaking in 2020, former player John Paintsil claimed they were “cheated”, while teammate Hans Sarpei said he “can’t forgive him [Suarez] because it was not an accident”.
Ghana take on La Celeste in Group H at the Qatar World Cup, with Suarez likely to feature. Can they get their revenge? Have your say over on our Sportsbook, where our World Cup Betting markets include a range of Football Odds for the grudge match between Uruguay and Ghana.
Luis Suarez World Cup Handball
The famous World Cup game of Luis Suarez’s handball was played at Soccer City in Johannesburg. After 90 minutes, the sides were level. Sulley Muntari had put Ghana ahead before Diego Forlan’s equaliser set up extra time, which was where the fiasco unfolded.
At the end of extra time, with the score still 1-1, Ghana won a corner. From it, Dominic Adiyah sent a header towards the goal, and it looked like the Africans would win. However, in pure desperation, Suarez blocked the ball from crossing the line with both hands. He was sent off, but Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting penalty and Suarez was pictured passionately celebrating on the sidelines.
A penalty shootout followed, where there was even more heartbreak for Ghana. Uruguay won it 4-2, with John Mensah and Adiyah missing their spot kicks. So, in the end, Suarez’s handball effectively helped the South Americans progress and stopped Ghana from becoming the first-ever African World Cup semi-finalists. The former Liverpool striker boasted about it afterwards, describing the incident as the “save of the tournament”.
World Cup Grudge Matches
Uruguay v Ghana is not the first World Cup grudge match, and it will not be the last. There are other fixtures at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar between rivals, though none are as fierce. Spain take on Germany in Group E, and Die Mannschaft are out for revenge after losing to La Roja in the 2008 Euros final and 2010 World Cup semi-final. Meanwhile, England face Wales in Group B in a battle of two home nations.
Here are a few of the tastiest grudge matches in World Cup history.
England v Argentina (1966, 1986, 1998, 2002)
England and Argentina have shared a fierce World Cup rivalry for years. It first started in 1966, when the South Americans labelled a game between the pair “the theft of the century”. They felt Geoff Hurst’s goal in a 1-0 England win was offside, while they also contested Antonio Rattin’s red card.
Things heated up further in 1986 when the pair locked horns at the World Cup in Mexico. This time it was Argentina’s turn to secure a controversial victory, with Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal playing a decisive role. Then, in 1998, La Albiceleste won again after Diego Simeone’s theatrics led to a red card for David Beckham.
Their most recent encounter on the world stage was in 2002. There was not much controversy in this one, although there was redemption for Beckham as his penalty goal clinched a 1-0 win for England.
Argentina v Brazil (1990)
These two South American nations have always been big rivals, but things intensified after their match at the 1990 World Cup. Argentina won the game 1-0, but afterwards, Brazil’s Branco accused opposition coaches of spiking their water. After playing in the game, Maradona later admitted that Branco had been given “holy water”.
Netherlands v Germany (1974, 1990)
There is no love lost between these two European nations. Their first World Cup encounter was in the 1974 final, where Germany upset the odds to get their hands on the trophy. That fixture is now known in Holland as “the mother of all defeats”. Sixteen years later, they came face to face once more, and tensions were high. The match was ill-tempered, and things boiled over when Frank Rijkaard was sent off for spitting in Rudi Völler’s hair.