Luis Suarez said he won’t apologise for the controversial handball incident which denied Ghana a place in the 2010 World Cup semifinals after being told he is regarded as a “devil” in the African nation ahead of Friday’s rematch with Uruguay at Qatar 2022.
Suarez, 35, was sent off for keeping out Dominic Adiyiah’s goalbound header with his hands in the final minute of extra-time in the 2010 quarterfinal in Soccer City, South Africa.
Although Ghana were awarded a penalty to win the game, which was tied at 1-1, Asamoah Gyan missed his spot-kick and Uruguay went on to book a semifinal against the Netherlands by winning 4-2 on penalties.
The incident was one of the most controversial in World Cup history and denied Ghana the chance to become the first African nation to reach the semifinals in the competition.
The two countries meet again at Al Janoub on Friday, with Uruguay needing to win to have any hope of qualification at Ghana’s expense from Group H.
But after being told by a Ghanaian journalist that he is “regarded as diablo — the devil — in Ghana and we want to retire you tomorrow,” Suarez said he is not to blame for Ghana failing to win the 2010 game.
“I don’t apologise about that, I did the handball, but the Ghana player missed the penalty, not me,” Suarez said at a news conference in Doha. “I could apologise if I injured a player with a tackle and got a red card, but in this situation I take a red card and the referee says penalty.
“It’s not my fault, I didn’t miss the penalty. The player who missed the penalty said he would do the same [as I did] in that situation. It’s not my responsibility in this situation.”
Suarez’s career has been overshadowed by a number of on-field controversies, including an eight-match suspension for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra while playing for Liverpool and other bans for biting opponents while playing in the Premier League and during his time at Ajax and Uruguay.
And Suarez said that talk of revenge in the Ghana game is “counter-productive” by pointing to how he has been able to move on from the four-month ban he received from FIFA for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini while playing for Uruguay at the 2014 World Cup.
“I don’t know what people are saying about revenge,” Suarez added. “The players playing tomorrow may have been, what eight years old back then [in 2010]?”
“They are saying I am the devil and these things, but what I did with Chiellini, I played against him afterwards, I made a mistake and we shook hands.
“You can’t just keep thinking about the past and revenge because that can be counter-productive.”
If Uruguay fail to win on Friday, it is expected that Suarez will retire from international football, but he said that his nation can still get a result by drawing on Uruguay’s qualities as a small nation.
“We are facing challenging times,” he said. “But this is our World Cup now. We’d love to be in a different situation, but we are Uruguayans and we are used to this struggle.
“We are good enough players to be in a different situation, but we can rise to the challenge against hardship.
“As footballers, we are used to making excuses, but all of our players are doing a good job in their clubs and we are here for our country, so let’s stop making excuses.”