Ghana Won Moral Victory

It is difficult to put in words the emotional rollercoaster that Ghanaians have been wrenched through over the past three days. Most of us, together with supporters of the National Football team across the world, went to bed on Friday night exhausted, bewildered and deflated. The high that came with the first goal struck by Sulley Muntari on the stroke of half-time had given way to despondency unknown on this side of personal grief.
But this was nothing compared with the feeling on Saturday morning. For those who were able to sleep as for the traumatised insomniacs, dawn brought that drained and barren feeling: the realisation that there is no prize for nearly there.
 
The focus of that early emptiness was, of course, Asamoah Gyan, with whom Ghanaians have an amazing love-hate relationship. There is no guessing which side had won the race on Saturday morning. Some people were openly declaring that the deportation would be the most charitable treatment for the hapless striker who had been inconsolable on the pitch after the disaster in Soccer City. Did I say disaster? More on that later. But let us stay with Mr. Gyan for the moment.
 
For some, decapitation would even be merciful, but radio commentaries and phone-in monitored by this reporter appeared to suggest that by mid-morning, the red mist was lifting, giving way shoulder shrugs and heavy sighs, and of course the belief that even this was the will of God. But Asamoah Gyan who was the first player to score from the penalty spot in the current world cup on June 13 against Serbia, has joined an illustrious club of penalty “miss-ers”. They include Diego Maradona (1990), Michel Platini (1986), Socrates (1986), Zico (1986), Roberto Baggio (1994, and Franco Baresi (1994).
 
Spare a thought for Asmoah Gyan who had been invested who, seconds to go in extra time, had suddenly been installed as the potential restorer of Africa’s pride. He was to undo with one foot all the hurt and indignity, not to mention the pillage and spillage of our blood, during half a millennium of colonialism and slavery. Every black person and every person who supports the cause of fairness and liberation, with the possible exception of four million Uruguayans, prayed for Gyan’s foot to deliver. It was almost too much to bear for the player and the billion hearts that defied medical opinion and stopped for an eternity.
 
Spare a thought for the entire team. A group of young men in this bright and unsparing global limelight would do what all young men love to do: swagger and bluster, and follow the coach’s indoctrination that they are cool, very cool, thank you and no pressure. But deep down, they would be battle scarred and worn down with the expectation of an entire continent, if not a globe on their backs. Think of  running around in very cold night in Johannesburg at an altitude of nearly 6000 feet above sea level, and you can barely begin to imagine what it would feel like with the additional burden of Nelson Mandela’s message ringing in your ear.
 
So Asamoah Gyan missed that critical penalty that would have made all the difference to the billions that had invested such emotion in the outcome of that World Cup match, but should it have been a penalty in the first place? Let us stay on this subject, because a critical examination would lead to the inevitable conclusion that Ghana won the match, or at least secured a moral victory that must have positive consequences for the beautiful game and its rather pretentious notions of fair play.
 
First, the location of the ball at the time it was handled by the Uruguayan player Suarez (public Enemy Number One) appears to suggest that it had gone over the line. Here, Ghana must join England in putting pressure on FIFA to accept the introduction of goal line technology into international football. If this had been cricket, rugby, or tennis instant replay would have enabled o “fourth official” to reach the right conclusion.
 
But secondly, and most crucially, what should the outcome be when a ball so clearly destined for goal is scooped out by a player using his hand or hands when he is not the goalkeeper. On the face of it, it appears that the referee acted within the letter of FIFA Law 12 of the FIFA Laws of the Game 2005, which says a free-kick or penalty will be awarded if a player "handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area)". On page 67 of the Laws, referees are reminded that “deliberately handling the ball is normally punished only by a direct free-kick or penalty kick if the offence occurred inside the penalty area”.
 
It is obvious that the penalty area is big and there are bound to be different effects of handling depending on where the offense occurs, but none would have the same dire consequences as a ball deliberately scooped out of goal, especially when it has gone over the line, with a player’s hands. That must be different from say, handling in a goalmouth melee after a corner kick.
 
Most Ghanaians believe that the Black Stars were robbed of victory by either Luis Suarez, or the referee or both, but our gallant young men have won the moral victory. In 1964, the Cuban boxer Sugar Ramos was given a tainted verdict over the Ghanaian challenger Floyd Robertson after a World Boxing Council Featherweight encounter in Accra. The following day, the President of Ghana, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, caused the Ghana Boxing Authority to “reverse” the verdict. It had no significant impact internationally but it alerted the boxing world that the African nation of Ghana does not take it lying down.
 
We may not have to go through the theatrics of reversing the football verdict of last Friday because that would amount to crying over spilt ekpeguemi but we can fight for a rule change so that no team, nation or continent will have to go through the anguish that we have suffered over the past 72 hours.
 
Meanwhile, there should be no reason why we should not hold our team and its handlers in high esteem. There is no reason to throw the flag away and shed the colourful support costume. Our team won the right to make us proud. We should accept them with gleeful arms. Remember they fought for every ball and entered every contest with skill and bravery. Friday night was not a disaster but a moment of truth for the world to know a bit more about our continent and its people.
 
gapenteng@hotmail.com

 
Kwasi
 
(Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, Journalist & Communications Consultant)
 
Programme Coordinator
 
Cultural Initiatives Support Programme
 
Du Bois Centre
 
PMB CT 219, Cantonments, Accra
 
Tel: +233 21 770677
 
Please copy OFFICIAL correspondence to kgapenteng@cispghana.org

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@Kwite Naise, I think you are sick. You need mental examination!

Gyann is full of shit! Ghana would have won the match long before had he not sworn not to make Muntari a two-goal hero of the night.Twice Sulley was free to his left in the 18yd, and twice Gyan ignored him in two pathetic attempts to dribble through. It was actually fun to see the idiot once full of hubris and indecent swagger hide his face in sorrow and shame. Since it appears only Ghanaians saw the ball cross the line i wont waste a comment on that.But Considering the pun Ghanaians would have subjected especially Nigerians had they made it to the semis- its not difficult to see why Most Nigerians i know regreted the incident - for exactly 5 minutes.

continued
Poland has forgotten the whole thing and moved on. Ghana should move on and stop whining. Man up and stop being cry-babies. After all your players were also faking injuries and diving including the so called 'foul' that led to that last free kick and the penalty any way. Uruguay simply got natural justice. How about Vorsah insulting Suarez early in the match for no reason just to try and intimidate him?. Nemesis was at work that's all. Stop whining!. That's football!!

Enough of this whining please. Uruguay won fair and square. They played according to the rules. Suarez committed a professional foul to keep his team alive. If Gyan had done the same thing, you hypocrites will say he is a hero. In the 1978 world cup in the match between Poland and Argentina in the 2nd. round, Argentina's Mario Kempes scored the first goal against Poland. When Poland almost equalised, Kempes DIVED to punch the ball out at the goal line. He actually DIVED unlike Suarez whom the ball came to directly. In those days, the rules were different and according to the rules, the referee gave him only a yellow card and awarded a penalty to Poland. Poland missed their penalty and Kempes rubbed salt in their wound by scoring a second goal to make the match end a 2-0 win for Argentina.

While i Sympathise with Ghana, the truth must be said that the free-kick that led to the handball incident should not have been awarded. The Ghanaian just dived and got what he wanted. Not only did they get the free-kick, they were awarded a penalty, which they missed. ISN'T THAT NATURAL JUSTICE? A similar incidence was exactly how Ghana got their goal against Australia. So, why is everyone shouting "robbery"?
Check this out on Ghanaian cheating... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqubKdN46zg

While i Sympathise with Ghana, the truth must be said that the free-kick that led to the handball incident should not have been awarded. The Ghanaian just dived and got what he wanted. Not only did they get the free-kick, they were awarded a penalty, which they missed. ISN'T THAT NATURAL JUSTICE? A similar incidence was exactly how Ghana got their goal against Australia. So, why is everyone shouting "robbery"?
Check this out on Ghanaian cheating... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqubKdN46zg

They actually won the day but Uruguay stole the victory from them. How can you prevent the ball with your hand from the net at the goal touch line when you are not the goal keeper and the goal is not allowed. For me that was a goal and Ghana won but the white masters who had the knife and at same time did the cutting stole the victory. Such day light robbery should be discouraged by regarding such glaring situations as goals against the cheating side.

Moral Victory? In sports that expression does not exist. Sorry. Was Friday night a disaster? . Yes, to the extent that, in sports only the winner takes it all. In a couple of years no one will remember the drama, it will be Ghana did not qualify for the semi-final. Does anyone remember how Nigeria lost to Italy in 1994? Does any one remember that the game was already won before we lost it in 10 minutes? Cruel, tough. Lessons learnt from Ghana? Stop cheating in sports. Use 17 year old boys for under-17 competitions and not 27 years old men, like Nigeria does. Build a nation on merit and good values, that is what Ghana taught all black nations on friday. Ghana did make us all proud. We do share in your sorrow, but that Ghanian team will come back big, it is built on solid basis.

@Wada Nas:
Nigerians were not nice either to all Ghanaians living in Nigeria when Ghana had a "rough" time as a nation. I am Nigerian and will not have you misrepresent Nigerians. No nation or people are the cleanest or best. If you do not want to celebrate with Ghana, keep that to yourself and do not drag Nigerians into it. Up Ghana, up Africa! Ghanaians are probably the "best brothers" Nigerians have got in all of Africa. Check this assertion out!

I wish Ghanaians were a bit nicer to Nigerians living in their country; that would have allowed me to join the celebration of Ghana's achievement. But right now, I don't feel like doing so.

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