ESPN Makes Wrong Decision to Reprimand Jon Champion Over Luis Suarez Handball Incident

When we watch our English football games, we want to hear qualified commentators and opinionated co-commentators who aren’t too afraid to tell us what they think. Otherwise what we would end up with are sanitized broadcasts that are politically correct to the detriment of our viewing and hearing experience.

After Luis Suarez handled the ball yesterday in front of the Mansfield goal and then proceeded to score the winner in the FA Cup third round tie, ESPN UK commentator Jon Champion called Luis Suarez a cheat. Here’s exactly what he said in the broadcast that aired live in the United Kingdom on ESPN UK:

What Champion said was appropriate. He called a spade a spade. Luis Suarez’s handball was so blatantly obvious that Champion’s words shouldn’t have been called into question. But ESPN today issued an apology. Here’s what their official spokesperson said:

“We take our responsibility to deliver the highest standards of coverage to our viewers. ESPN’s editorial policy is for commentators to be unbiased and honest, to call things as they see them. Inevitably this can involve treading a fine line on occasion, especially in the heat of the moment. Comments during the Mansfield v Liverpool match caused offence where none was intended and we have spoken to our commentator about this incident.”

I completely understand ESPN’s policy of not wanting their commentators to be biased, but in this particular instance, I don’t believe Champion’s comments were biased. They were stating the obvious where he was bold enough to take a stand on something that the majority of viewers would agree with. For Champion not to say anything would have been an injustice.

ESPN’s viewpoint that Champion’s words “caused offence” are ridiculous. Liverpool club forums and blogs last night encouraged readers to make complaints against Champion, and ESPN’s move today was no doubt made to silence the Liverpool supporters. But in this particular instance, ESPN made a poor decision. Instead of backing their commentator, they decided to side with a small portion of their viewers. From a PR perspective, ESPN made a move to try to sweep the incident under a carpet. But to me, this is a sad day for commentators as others will likely think twice about stating the obvious in the future for fear of being reprimanded by their employers.

140 thoughts on “ESPN Makes Wrong Decision to Reprimand Jon Champion Over Luis Suarez Handball Incident”

  1. Well, I’m officially done with this website. It was a great 4 years following the Premier League on here, but this post is absolute garbage.

      1. Sorry Gaffer this is not just one article. I guess I will be joining BM in leaving this forum. I really enjoyed the idea of independent thinking and out of the box analysis this site was built upon. Unfortunately the recent increase in amount of biased and hypocritical dross has gone beyond tolerance for me personally. I don’t need yet another outlet re-distributing the kool-aid produced by the British media. I can go directly to the source to get my injection. Well it was a good run while it lasted.

        1. Andrei, I value your opinions since you’ve been on this site for a very long time, but I disagree with you. My opinion in this article is one of the few (if any) that’s in support of Jon Champion. If you read the British media today, all of the articles are in favor of ESPN’s decision.

          I also disagree with the assertion that there has been an increase in “biased and hypocritical dross.”

          The Gaffer

          1. yup following BM, used to love this fairly balanced webiste…it was poor referring desicison, thats what Champion should have said, not calling a player a cheat, and yeah he even said he kissed his hand to further infuriate the fans?? really? Gaffer im sure you have watched suarez, and im sure you have seen him celebrate after he scores, he kisses his wrist after every goal…disgraceful!!

    1. Hate to say it but I agree with your point. It states above that Champion’s comments were appropriate. Clearly they weren’t or they wouldn’t have felt the need to issue a statement! Don’t know about you but I fully expect a commentator to be impartial and Champion crossed the line. Clearly we know the thoughts of this website over the past couple of days and sorry to say it but this post in particular seems very childish and not warranted in the slightest. Clearly if it was down to this website, Suarez would have been hanged by now. Things go on in football every week… Get over it!

      1. Who’s the bunch of pathetic crybabies you refer to? I love it when something happens and people take the moral high ground… until something happens involving their team/player. When the shoes on the other foot… And are you actually from Manchester? Or do you carry the ‘must dislike Liverpool and anything they or their fans say or do’ mentality just because you support Man U? Serious question by the way.

        As for Champion… would you expect somebody like Martin Tyler to go down the same route? I wouldn’t and that’s because he remains professional and it’s kept him at the top for so long. It’s a line you know that Tyler would never cross.

        1. Blah…blah…blah. What Champion said was no secret. Suarez has long stamped his name as a CHEAT and this only cemented it. So you can stop your whining as if anyone is attacking LIVERPOOL FC as a club in whole or badmouthing any other player in their roster.

          1. Hmm.. if anybody should stop whining, it appears to be you if that post is anything to go by. Attacking Liverpool FC? Never said such a thing.

          2. @Paul, if it’s not about teams then why did you bring it into the discussion? Now you’re trying to dance around it. You’re so pathetic. Lol. You were trying to create bad blood between two teams (that already have their fair share) when it’s really just between a single player and pretty much the rest of the footballing world/media.

  2. Champion was wrong what he said, Suarez did not cheat.

    The ball hit his hand, he proceeded to “play to the whistle” and scored a goal, the goal was allowed so the ref is to blame.

    In September Peter Crouch handled the ball TWICE before he knocked it into the net, this denied Man City 3 valuable points. Crouch did not own up until questioned after the game when he admitted it, by then it was too late. Crouch was not called a cheat by the commentator or branded a cheat by the newspapers the next day – This whole thing is a JOKE and blown out of all proportion!

    1. Its obvious that suarez has a track record when it comes to cheating. He is a constant diver and also has been accused of racist slanders. People need to stop defending him. I have seen people like Miroslav Klose tell a ref to take his goal away because of a handball. Suarez would never think about doing anything like this. Say what you want to say, but somehow Suarez is always in the middle of things like this.

      1. I don’t remember Ronaldo or Drogba ever going to the ref and tell him it should not be a penalty or a free kick as we dived. And they were the two biggest cheats ever to grace English football. So why should Suarez own up that he used his hand. He is not the first and won’t be the last.
        Gaffer I used to think that this was a great site and I read it every day but you just let yourself and your site down today!

  3. If Suarez’ last name was Cole or Davies or Smith he would be a “fighter” “scrappy” or “die hard”…etc. If Rooney blocked a game winning goal in the WC he would be hailed as a national hero willing to sacrifice for his country! FFS

  4. Hi Gaffer…
    I’m a long time admirer of your views and blog, but i am afraid we disagree slightly here. I am going to be called a “blinkered Liverpool supporter” but i do call into question the bombardment of abuse Luis suffers on a daily basis both from his own fellow pro’s, (Some of whom want to “knock him out”) supporters and some match officials. Now we have the commentators berating him. I take the point that he is not exactly a role model and should hold his hands up to his misgivings but surely it is unfair for a commentator to add to his woes and add to his media generated stigma that he is a cheat. This will influence referees without doubt and as has been said, it is not Luis’s job to call foul. That is the respnsibility of the officials. We forget that these players are young men who are paid a lot of money and goal bonuses. I would love all of them to be honest and sporting but unfortunatly that is not the case. Being Irish, we suffred the Henry debacle, so i know how unjustified one can feel. Ask yourself, if Swansea needed to stay up on the last day of the season by a “dodgy” goal, would you slate it but take it?

    1. Paddy, if Swansea needed to stay up by a dodgy goal, I wouldn’t take it. I’d rather see Swansea get relegated instead of cheating their way to stay up.

      The Gaffer

      1. Gaffer,
        I know more than most that you are not anti Liverpool so i’ll distance myself from the other comments posted by others.
        All i’m saying is that if it had have been Gerrard who the ball hit (or hit the ball), there would be no fuore. I just don’t like the “Terror headline” of “Cheat”. He is such an easy target. The media may have gone down a different route and maybe asked Luis if he would apologise for the goal? I remember Robbie Fowler declining a penalty after going down against Arsenal years ago….Di Canio stopping play for an injured goalkeeper. Maybe Suarez should have spoken to the referee but we can’t judge everybody by our own standards. Nobody is perfect. I love your blog and wouldnever leave. I appreciate all you did in the Cohen debacle and love the educated argument.



      2. Gaffer,
        How is what Suarez did any different then appealing for an offsides that a defenders knows, clearly isnt offsides? (Suarez’ 90′ winner vs Everton) Or how about throw ins? How many do players rasie hands knowing that the ball came off them last? How many of these players “own up” and give the ball to the other team. None. Free kicks that get moves a few meters so the taker has a better angle, is this cheating?

        I dont think Suarez handled intetionally, he kicks the ball into the net in exasperation, obviously frustrated it came off his hand. It then is allowed and he accepts it. I see no wrong there. He’s had 3 goals ruled out for offsides that were, infact not infractions. There is a human element to officating and it works for and against you. Sturridge got one of the most unbelievable yellow cards I’ve ever seen and thats not an issue.
        What is an issue, is the lack of help the officals recieve. They’re out there without any sort of safety net and then, we as fans, can pick apart every mistake they make. There needs to be something they can do to help these officals out, when the out come of games is regularly decided by refs there’s a bigger problem. Even the title a few years back was, nearly, decided by the ref.
        Suarez isn’t the problem, he’s the best player in England at the moment. Help the refs, help the game, this is the real problem

        1. Best comment here, John.

          I very much disagree with the original article and from the outside looking in, it looks like England in general has two sets of values when it comes assessing the behaviours of its own players v foreigners.

  5. So, in your mind, Luis Suarez went for the ball with his hand deliberately, with the absolute intent of deceiving the officials and scoring a goal? Not that there was a handball, that it was deliberate.
    That’s exactly what you are saying in your text, and if that’s what you believe, you have astonishing powers of sight and mind reading and clearly should be in a much more important role.
    Perhaps you should apply for the job of god or perhaps you should admit the truth, that you are guessing about the intent.

    1. And it would be one thing if this was an isolated incident, But we all know his history.
      Suarez is a brilliant footballer. As talented a striker as you’ll find in the PL. But the constant looking for fouls, the rolling around after the slightest contact, and yes the cheating when ever he can, is a display of desire to win, but at what cost. He didn’t just handle the ball, he directed it with his hand. Is every media outlet to apologize, because some small group just doesn’t want to hear that one of their players dirty?
      There are players that are just dirty. Neymar is one, Sergio Ramos, Cristiano Ronaldo, Dani Alves, Javier Mascherano, Paul Scholes, John Terry, Joey Barton, Ryan Shawcross, Lee Cattermole, Nigel De Jong remember Duncan Disorderly Ferguson, Roy Keene, Robbie Wels Beckham Savage, Lee Bowyer and I even get pissed off at how Kevin Nolan taunts during matches and he is my own. But one cheat who will best be remembered for getting his payback in the form of a head butt, where the entire football world community understood why he received it was Marco Materazzi. Absolute thug on the pitch. So I guess it comes down to, are you comfortable with the win at any cost mentality. Certainly it is a great display of desire if nothing else, but is it the football you like watching, and best put, shoe on other foot, would you not feel hard done by?

  6. The problem is he didn’t call a spade a spade. It was blatantly prejudiced comment against Suarez. ESPN was right to apologize and reprimand him.

  7. Sad to see someone’s personal dislike of a player cloud their perspective.
    Incidental handball and call would have been correct either way.

    1. I have no personal dislike of the player. In fact, I think Luis Suarez is one of the best footballers in the Premier League. I thought his decisionmaking in this case was poor, though, especially against a fifth tier side in the FA Cup.

      The Gaffer

          1. That was a 1 off, never to be seen again. I don’t think his team mates or BR would have been impressed if the game had finished 1-1!

          2. How many offside goals was Klose perfectly willing to accept? I’ll bet more than a handful. This is rank hypocrisy to hold one player to a “once in a blue moon” standard while allowing the infractions of equally (or worse) offenders to pass unnoticed. A shocking article from “The Gaffer” unworthy of this site which was likely written mainly to generate clicks. Such a shame.

          3. lol okay
            and how many other player have done that? ask a spurs fan after their winner was denied at old trafford, should Carrol have ran towards the ref and said It went innn”

      1. Why does the level of the side have anything to do with this? Are you suggesting he should have treated the Mansfield players like the 3 years old and go easy on them?

          1. But LFC did not cheat, the Ref didn’t think it was deliberate. Which is what the 4th official told Brendon Rogers as soon as it happened.

  8. Luis Suarez is the most interesting player in the Premier League: a magnificent footballer and a lightning rod for controversy.

  9. What other word do you use but cheat. The instant replays saw him deliberately smack the ball into the net. He is a dirty player. He dives all the time and is a joke.

    1. How is it at all cheating? The ball cannoned back onto his hand, it fell to his feet and he put it in the net (believe it or not, that is his job)!

      How can you call him a dirty player? What does he do that is dirty? He doesn’t dive anymore (you’d know that if you watched Liverpool rather than your cheating team) and he never dived that much anyway! He gets the complete shit kicked out of him every single week and more often than not biased referees do nothing to protect one of the best players in the world!

      Dirty Man U players like Young are far worse than Suarez! Ronaldo was the most dishonest player ever – he dived all over the place – but he was your hero!

      United are the real cheats of English football!


    2. I see Sean,
      All perfect down the years at Old Trafford yes?
      Kung Fu Cantona?
      Giggsy sleeping with his brothers wife?
      Rooney doing prostitutes?
      Ferguson ranting and raving to cheat his way to reslts and influence over refs?

    3. Unlike Liverpool supporters I can quite easily condemn any member of Man Utd or Stoke City who I support if they do the same thing.
      We are talking about the cheat who used his hand to score a goal. Liverpool supporters are cry babies and come on mass to flood EPL and stiffle all comments they do not agree with.
      Boo HOO … here is a tissue .

  10. This site is becoming ridiculous. I’ve been reading it for years, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a site be more anti-Liverpool.


    What is wrong with you? There is no way to tell if the handball was deliberate, it looked like ball to hand to me. It is the refs job to call the handball, so the refs are the only one to blame. Calling Suarez a “cheat” because the ball hit his hand and the ref missed it is ridiculous. Did you go on a witch hunt for Demba Ba after he did the same thing vs Reading? No, you didn’t. It’s actually scary how fast the witch hunt for Suarez starts after everything that happens. The Mansfield manager had great comments after the game. Maybe you should take a look. Ignorance is a scary thing.

    1. Michael, if you’ve been reading the site for years, you would know that I’ve been very supportive of Liverpool FC. The Steven Cohen debacle is just one example of many where EPL Talk has stood up against the crap that Liverpool supporters have had to deal with.

      I’ve reviewed Suarez’s goal on numerous occasions. He intentionally handled the ball. That is cheating.

      The Gaffer

      1. He did not intentionally handle the ball. That’s the thing about reviewing it numerous times, with slow motion and what not… you trick yourself into believing that a handball is intentional because its so slowed down that it looks pretty blatant. However, the intense speed at which the game is played and at which the ball cannoned off of the Mansfield goalkeeper towards Suarez gave him no time to consciously decide to handle the ball: it was a natural reaction, if anything.

      2. “I’ve reviewed Suarez’s goal on numerous occasions. He intentionally handled the ball. That is cheating.”

        If you really believe that then you’re deluded.

      3. If he intentionally handled the ball, then you have to agree he is the greatest player ever to live.
        To be at full speed, figure the angle to get the ball to come off of the goalie who is also moving, kick it at the correct speed, figure the correct placement for his hand to be at as the ball bounces back off the tender’s body for it to land at his feet and score.
        Quite a trick shot to be sure……..

      4. so he handled the ball, who is arguing about it? but is it cheating? fourth official saw it and did not do anything, so is that suarez’s fault? so you want suarez to cuddle the ball and give it back the ref?

      5. Gaffer,
        You still haven’t made any logical points for your position. Other than “He intentionally handled the ball. That is cheating.”

        I know creating logical arguments to defend your ridiculous statements is hard, but please try to.

  11. I think the issue here is more to do with the fact that the aforementioned commentator should be allowed to express his own opinion on the matter.

    It has become so difficult to have a reasoned debate on Suarez. We either get Liverpool fans going on majorly on the defensive over him (and for some reason bring United into every argument!), or those who’s opinions are clouded by an overiding dislike because of his past reputations.

    1. Obviously commentators should be allowed to have opinions. But ESPN is a private company, and if the said commentator expresses comments that are inappropriate and just plain wrong, then the company(ESPN), has the right to reprimand him. What don’t you get about that?

  12. LoL… This site isn’t anti Liverpool… What a ludicrous statement to make…. Especially after all the other coverage for LFC on this site from that horrible dicumenty to the fan written stories and including for the jft96 coverage!

    I don’t remember seeing Chelski fans post this kind of whiney rubbish when the JT controversy was the hot topic.

    Instead it was fiercely debated…that’s the point of the site!

    Who are these people that are so offended by a post that disagrees with espn’s stance?

    Wha wha wha!!!

    The commentator was doing his job commentating on events & calling as not just he saw it but how everyone else watching including the MTFC goalkeeper.

    Anti LFC Site what a ridiculous comment. LoL

    1. It’s pretty pathetic. It’s the same mob mentality that angry hooligans try to use to influence referee decisions.

  13. This is partly a rhetorical question, and it doesn’t pertain to just Liverpool supporters, but when someone states an opinion about a person’s club, why do supporters from that club automatically think that the writer is a fan of their most hated rival?

    Is it a automatic reflex? Is it paranoia? Is it “lazy commentism”? 😉

    The Gaffer

  14. Write what you want gaffa, this is your site that you put a lot of personal time into.

    Your much appreciated.

    Up the toon!

  15. If the Mansfield manager doesn’t think Suarez did anything wrong, why do you Mr Gaffer, here is what the Mansfield boss said on the matter:

    “What he did was instinctive,” said the 41-year-old. “We should embrace him as a talent, rather than for doing something that was instinctive.

    “All he did is do what any striker would have done.

    “If Matt Green had done it we would have accepted it. I can’t be two-faced on that.”

    Nuff said.

  16. Did you call Demba Ba a cheat when he did the same thing against Reading a few weeks ago? (Serious question, maybe you did) i don’t understand the recent obsession with calling everything “cheating”. First divers, now this. At least with diving there is an intent to fool the ref, but now if a player doesn’t call his own fouls its cheating? What about shirt tugging and calling for a ball that went out when you know it was off your team? What about telling the ref a player was offside when he cleary wasn’t? ( yes im still a bit bitter about the denial of the last second lfc win at goodison!) Is that cheating too, or just trying to get and advantage? Either all of it is cheating or none of it is.

  17. Th problem I have with articles like these and John Champion’s comments are that they seem to be selective based on who the culprit is.

    It is a fact that British players don’t receive the same treatment for doing similar things. For example, Suarez handled th ball on the line to prevent Ghana from scoring and he was villified for it. Rightly so. Although any other player would have done the same thing. When Philip Neville of Everton did the exact same thing in preventing Liverpool from scoring in a Merseyside derby, there was no such outrage or villification.

    The manager of Manfield Town was a voice of reason when he said that had his side scored a similar goal to Suarez’s he would have celebrated it.

    Instead of discussing the poor officiating and what can be done to prevent bad decisions, we prefer to put the onus on players to do the right thing. How many EPL players would have owned up to have handled the ball before scoring? Even Thierry Henry, one of the most respected and beloved former EPL players “cheated” in scoring for France against Ireland. The stakes are too high these days for any player to admit to wrongdoing. Players are always trying to get an unfair advantage. Why do we not villify defenders for a “professional” foul on a player to prevent a one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Is that less worse?

  18. Apparently the world is split down the middle like this…You have some moral folks, and some immoral ones. With that said, I’ve committed professional fouls in my playing career and I have absolutely no regrets over them. I’ve been punished for some and others have been missed.

    I would have gladly sacrificed myself for my team to have an opportunity to play in a World Cup semifinal and I would have done much more than headbutt Marco Materazzi (although that doesn’t fall into the category of professional foul).

    There are plenty of you out there that are certain that handball was intentional, but I’m certain it was not. And afterwards? I would have kicked it into the net just as Suarez did. It’s his job to score goals after all. Just like it’s the referee’s job to spot those things and call them.

    Miroslav Klose’s example was admirable but that is the only time in the recorded history of the professional game that it has ever occurred. If somebody can prove that statement wrong, good on them.

    So, are you all such moral angels that you would campaign to the referee to disallow the goal if you whacked the ball in with your hand?

  19. I expect The Gaffer to do a write up every week from now on, about who may have cheated intentionally or not.

    I’m sure The Gaffer has never cheated or broken a law in his life.

    1. I feel so inspired by Gaffer’s plea for complete honesty that I’m going to my local Department of Motor Vehicles and pay for all those parking and driving infractions I should have gotten tickets for.

  20. Gaffer,
    I guess you are trying to put this article out to create a stir and bring in more readers to this site…nothing wrong with that.
    The fact is for you need a Villian for every hero out there. For every Messi you need a Ronaldo to strike balance and make the game more interesting.
    John Champion exact words were “That, I’m afraid, is the work of a cheat” …That does not sound like a unbiased commentating to me.
    But anyway, we the LFC supporters really do not give a rat’s ass what anybody else thinks…Luis Suarez is ours and we will support him( in public) come hell or high water.

  21. Is it possible to be more sensative than a Liverpool fan? They’re like a bunch of school girls. Do they always think everyone is out to get them? Their paranoia knows no bounds.

      1. As a Liverpool fan, I totally agree. The knee jerk when Rodgers said he MAY move Suarez from CF brought me much amusement

  22. Suarez is a good scorer, borderline world class player.

    He also likes to dive and use his hands in the box.

    He does himself no favors.

    1. I can think of no other time Suarez has used his hands in the box. Please remind of such a time. Oh the World Cup, hardly a similar instance. He dives less the Bale, or Ashley Young, in fact, could’ve gone down vs Sunderland but didn’t, stayed on his feet and scored. The press does him no favors. He is, right now, the best player in England and should be regarded as such

      1. You’re wrong on two counts.

        First, he was booked against Southampton for trying to direct the ball with his hands last month at home no less. How did you miss that?

        Second, Robin Van Persie is the best player in England. There is no debate on that and I’m not even a United supporter and I can say that with confidence.

    2. Suarez doesn’t dive any more than most other PL players. He “dove” once this season. But the truth doesn’t make for a good story does it?

  23. According to former Chicago Cubs player Mark Grace: “If you are not cheating…you are not trying.”

    In my opinion, Luis Suarez is the hardest “trier” in the EPL.

    Technically, Champion did not call Suarez a cheat…he said that it “is the work of a cheat.” :)

    I agree with Champion’s point, and he is one of my favorite commentators, at the same time, I am not sure that the word “cheat” is appropriate.

    Saying that it is “another controversial play involving Suarez” would have been more appropriate and still got the point across.

  24. The question I have is how many other players who have done similar things has Jon Champion called a cheat? Perhaps the gaffer would like to actually do some research to provide an answer.

    1. How about Diego Maradona vs England (hand of god) and Thierry Henry in 2009 vs. Ireland?

      Are they “cheats” …. Didn’t see Henry pilloried in the press and called a cheat….

  25. As a Liverpool supporter, I’m gald we made it through, but not on the terms that we did. As a football fan, I would have loved to see Mansfield get one back to force a replay at Anfield so the little club would be able to get some help to pay their bills. The game in itself was magnificent. All the romance of the FA Cup was there. If there was any game to watch as an outsider, that was one of them.

    As a loyal reader of this blog for years, I love the fact that I can actually read discussion on the games or players, whether I like them or not. There was none of that years ago. I was the only one at school who would follow the EPL. Anyone remember when ESPN first got the rights in the early 90’s? I had to stay up to 2:00 in the morning to see Liverpool go up 3-0 at the break to Newcastle only to have them almost cause me not to be able to sleep then. The difference is that back then, I was the only one in college that cared. There was no discussion the next day for me. I knew I could count on that being on this blog, though.

    After the game last night, I was on the phone immediately talking with my father. I knew this would be headline news all day today and as a FOOTBALL fan, I couldn’t wait to see what people were saying about the incident, and today didn’t disappoint. Even though we would have given back a goal, I would have LOVED to Suarez pull a Klose (even there would be no chance in hell of that happening) to do something for his reputation after the World Cup handball, Ajax biting incident, Evra racism saga, diving, and the list goes on.

    But it didn’t and so here I am writing about a sport I love when I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do so years ago. I’m going to get off the computer for a bit and this evening, I’ll be right back here. It’s because I’m a fan of this game and it’s development here. For those of you abandoning this site because you don’t agree with the comments, or opinions, too bad. You are missing the point.

    I don’t necessarily agree with every opinion voiced here, and so that fuels my opinions, and to a great extent, my battles and arguments with rival supporters when I am lucky enough to have them. So after reading all the love him or hate him opinions and commentary, that’s what being a fan is all about. We will probably be talking about this tomorrow as well. Isn’t it great?

    1. Old33
      hope you post more nice to read something from a fan and not a fanatic.don’t be a stranger you are welcome back anytime.i raise my glass to you Sir.

      1. It will always be as a true fan reading whatever comment comes because sporting opinion is one of the best things of spor itself!

  26. I’m a Tottenham supporter, didn’t watch the match, and I’m not a Suarez-hater. That being said I don’t agree with ESPN. Commentators should be able to call Suarez a cheat, Gareth Bale a diver, or whatever, and not worry about getting reprimanded.

  27. To be honest Suarez’ handball is more of a comment on how Liverpool were outplayed by a non league team. Everyone loves a giantkiller and Mansfield certainly deserved something from this game, at the very least, a trip to Anfield. But ultimately a deliberate handball was the only way Liverpool could take that away from them. The panicked look on Brendan Rodgers face when Mansfield were pressing for a second was hilarious. If the game had been another ten mins longer and a towel had been handy I’m certain he would have thrown it on the pitch.

    Sturridge scored then decided the world owed him a living and loped around indignantly. Pretty much the most optomistic 12M ever spent with Chelsea scarcely believing their luck. Shelvey demonstrated he still can’t hit a barn door from ten yards. Jordan Henderson showed us his midfield superiority by spraying around plenty of fifty and sixty yard passes, unfortunately most of them sailed thirty yards over the touchline. The goalkeeper Brad Jones had so little faith in his defence he smothered the ball so completely each time he got hold of it, I thought it must be his own and he’d brought it to the game himself. I wonder if Brendan Rodgers had a good look around at a non league set up as he’ll probably be after a job down there soon.

    And if the pretty boys of the Premier League want to see a wall do its job properly, just watch how the Mansfield lads lined up and didn’t turn their backs, duck or wave a white handkerchief against any Liverpool free kick.

    1. You are delusional pal…
      You obviously just love to hate Liverpool.
      We were poor against Mansfield but i give huge credit to them and the way they played.
      That’s the beauty of the cup….and has been for years.
      Wouldn’t change it for the world.

  28. Gaffer,

    Couldn’t disagree with you more but I respect your opinion.

    “That I’m afraid, is the work of a cheat. He can claim its an accident but accidents seem to happen where he’s concerned.”

    These statements are ridiculous. First, the referee claims he saw the handball but that it didn’t meet the criteria – ball to hand, distance ball was played etc. Second Suarez did what all players are told to do from an early age – play to the whistle. Agree or disagree with the handball call, this is what he ref has said.

    If Jon Champion has an issue, he should take it up with referee and brand him an incompetent rather than Suarez a cheat.

    Definitely a pattern of double standards when it comes to Suarez borne largely out of jealousy and a continuing desire by many to enjoy Liverpool’s fall from greatness. If he played for United, Chelsea, City, Arsenal or Spurs he wouldn’t come under such scrutiny.

    1. As a follow up – Jelavic just scored in the Everton FA Cup game – potentially offside (though not). Announcer says:

      “Good strikers follow the ball in under any circumstances”.

      Could not think of a better example of double standard.

    2. By the way… would you call Henry or Messi a cheat? both have done the same thing. Messi’s 2007 punch in to the net vs. Espanyol was blatant and he celebrated like the goal was going to win the Puskas award despite the protestations of all the Espanyol players…. but he’s not a “cheat” is he?

          1. I don’t have to prove anything. I’ve cited one, this article is 2 and not to mention the tackles he’s not been booked for and the diving which he has been carded for. The belief that everyone is making stuff up is really naive.

  29. What your piece does is called “begging the question” – it’s a piece of circuitous logic where you justify one statement (Jon Champion calling Suarez a cheat) by circling back to something that it itself is equally unsubstantiated (your own claim that Suarez is a cheat).

    Calling him a cheat over yesterday’s incident is a matter of opinion. “The majority of viewers” would agree you say. I doubt that is even true. My subjective opinion on the matter is that Suarez did not mean to handle the ball – it hit his hand, and he then did what any other paid professional would do which is stick it in the net.

    1. Oh and forgot to add, somewhat crucially, it’s not the commentator’s job to offer opinions. Jon Champion has never played the game as far as I’m aware – he’s a professional broadcaster. If he wants to air his own personal opinions then he should write some waffle on a blog.

      1. “Oh and forgot to add, somewhat crucially, it’s not the commentator’s job to offer opinions.”

        A lot of stupid things are being said, but that takes the cake. Congratulations.

  30. I’m a Liverpool fan, have been since 1976,
    I can’t tell if Suarez handled on purpose or if the ball rebounded and hit his arm, but I know he has cheated before and can guarantee he will again, therefore he is a cheat. He tried to score against Southampton earlier in the season with his hand and was booked for it.
    I bet he wishes that his team mate on the line in the World Cup had got his hands to the ball before him, would have saved him a hell of a lot of grief.

    1. JTM, I don’t think anyone’s free speech is being threatened here. Gaffer has an opinion and commenters here, including some who aren’t Liverpool fans, disagree. Seems like it’s working just fine.

      The problem with what Champion said is that he crossed the line as an impartial commentator. If it was a blatant cheat, such as diving in the box without contact, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. But after watching the replay several times I can’t say he intended to handle the ball. Thus, Champion’s opinion isn’t necessarily supported by what happened.

      But anything Suarez does will be viewed through the lends of him as a cheater. He is partially responsible for that bias and I understand why opposing fans pile on.

      All that being said I do feel like Mansfield was wrongly denied a replay at Anfield, which is a shame because they fully deserved it. I like the idea mentioned below that LFC could somehow compensate them, or offer some sort of support as a goodwill gesture.

      1. the only reason this is a story is because he has an awful past hand ball biting racist taunts diving do you want me to keep you get the picture.this is not his first brush with we with the opinion he did it on purpose don’t get a right to state our opinion.that would be taking away our free speech.i think he is guilty with his reaction.

  31. Gaffer.

    First and quickly thanks for all of the effort on one of my favorite sites.

    I disagree on some things, his ‘intention’, the need for him to come clean about his play, yada yada. I think its a part of the game (much like the disallowed goal at Everton). Things go for you and against, that’s part of the deal.

    I do wonder if the club I support should maybe make a financial gesture to Mansfield (who could surely use it and made a class gesture to LFC concerning the tribute) along the lines of what revenue might have been made by Mansfield on the replay.

    Is that crazy talk?

    Thanks again for all the work – even when I don’t agree.


  32. Gaffer, I think the same army of Liverpool FC supporters from the forums and websites you mentioned in your article that got ESPN to reprimand Champion are the same flamers attacking your site. I hope you don’t buckle like ESPN and silence yourself to these bunch of lifeless losers. Especially over an issue as clear as night and day.

    1. It is very clear, as deemed by the 4th official, the Mansfield town manager, and Brendan Rodgers, it was unintentional ball to hand. That should settle this once and for all.

      1. If you read what the Mansfield town manager said, he didn’t say it was unintentional he just said he would have taken a dodgy goal if his side would have scored one. in fact at the end, I think he implies that Suarez probably did do it on purpose. Just a correction.

    2. Easy now lad….
      Knickers in a twist…
      Most here are having an educated argument disagreeing with something the Gaffer said.

  33. “I completely understand ESPN’s policy of not wanting their commentators to be biased, but in this particular instance, I don’t believe Champion’s comments were biased. They were stating the obvious where he was bold enough to take a stand on something that the majority of viewers would agree with. For Champion not to say anything would have been an injustice.”

    You need to offer proof that Mr Champion’s comments were not biased. Has he used the same language in describing similar incidents in the past? He has commentated for over 20 years so surely he must have a record of always being “unbiased” and using the same language when incidents of this type have occurred.

    Everyone should be allowed to offer their opinions and views while commentating. I support that. However, I am not going to blindly support someone who picks and chooses whom to call a cheat or anything else. That goes against everything an unbiased commentator should be about. For ESPN to not reprimand Mr Champion would have sent the message that it’s OK to pick and choose which incidents and players to comment on. Those that have the mike need to be responsible and fair all the time. Not just some of the time or even most of the time.

    Finally, when you say his comments “were stating the obvious”, surely that is quite a stretch. The refereee in the game and Graham Poll, a former referee, didn’t think Suarez did anything wrong. So Mr Champion was not stating the obvious.

    1. Show me another incident where a footballer who has a record of cheating, violence on the pitch (HE BIT ANOTHER PLAYER!?!?!), racism, AND handballs and then we can see if Mr. Champion is consistent or not.

      Just because Mr. Champion has probably never said anything like that before after seeing a handball while commentating (who knows, maybe he has), doesn’t mean he is biased. Every incident is unique because of the people involved.
      If an unknown player (how about one of Mansfield’s for instance) would have had a handball in the box, would Mr. Champion have called it, “the work of a cheat,”? No. He wouldn’t have. Because in all likelihood that player doesn’t have the bad record that Suarez has.
      IF however Mr. Champion has seen a handball in the box by a player with a similar terrible record and DIDN’T call it the “work of a cheat,” the YES, by all means lets ruin his career, tarnish his reputation, and while we’re at it, lets burn him at the steak on the pitch at Anfield at the next home game because, how dare he call a Liverpool player a cheat and not call every other player one too!!
      To claim that he has to have said something similar before for it to be unbiased is absolutely ridiculous.

  34. most regulars know i am a Forest fan so i have know dog in the EPL usually take underdog but when UTD plays pool i hope UTD throttles pool.RVP with a hat trick and Scholes or Giggs with one.oh yeah suarez with a yellow or 2 for diving.Sunday can not get here soon enough.

    1. I’m a lifelong Liverpool fan and your hatred of us is suprising.
      I have the utmost respect for Forest and their support of the justice campaign.
      Cloughie was a legend in that department.

  35. He must have known using the word “cheat” would get a reaction, especially from the sensitive scousers. If he had stated that he saw it as deliberate handball then it would not be front page news.

    Commentators can’t win. They are always one badly chosen remark away from getting fired. Personally I prefer the likes of Champion to simply tell me what is going on, and leave the analysis to the ex-pro. If Gary Neville said it then its ok by me as he was a player and has likely seen this stuff up close. I like Jon Champion and hope this does not see him bounced off our screens.

    I cannot believe the amount of grief the Gaffer is getting over all this. Calm down people. Football is a game of opinions and this is a site where we can all share our views. I have wasted many enjoyable hours on here thanks to the Gaffer. It would be a real shame if the Gaffer shut up shop and took his ball home. I bet that’s how he feels after all the nonsense on here since yesterday.

    1. I doubt it. He got a lot more grief for taking Cohen to task years ago. Gaffer doesn’t need to care if people don’t share his opinion. Those of us who are here daily will continue.

  36. I’ve had a similar experience to Champion. I was supposed o be biased and when I tried to be neutral was ripped so I understand.

    Anyone who just leves this place is out of line. This article is not biased. It was based on Champion’schear claim, so it cannot be biased against Liverpool. The Gaffer never directly called Suarez a cheat. He only agreed that Champion’s comment was warranted thus endorsing Champion.

    I don’t normally comment anywhere because people easily become unreasonable. But this one is hard to pass up. Champion’s use of the word “cheat” is used in the context that Suarez is willing to skirt the rules to win.

    That is correct based on past and present evidence so I agree with Champion’s comment and wth the fact that, as the Gaffer said ESPN shattered under a small amount of pressure which shows that ESPN is not ready to be a viable product in the UK an most likely shut down in the next 3-5 years.

  37. I think the difficult thing with Suarez is that he is a very polarizing figure within the sport. He has a history of poor decisions for which he has never apologized for. Instead it’s left to the fans to be his voice while the opponents are left to speculate what was going on.

    There’s no real way to know whether he did it intentionally (unless he comes out to say so, and if he says it was unintentional there were still be doubters).

    As for the commentator… I personally do not care for biased commentators, but Champion is not the only one out there. I don’t have any specific examples, but they are out there. It does add some flavor to the context of matches.

    I for one will continue to frequent the site and hope that others will do the same and respond with their own well thought out comments.


  38. I can not say that the ball was intentionally played. As a player on the pitch the ball should have been played through. Was it an over reaction for Champion to call Suarez a cheat. Yes it was. Was it worth a reprimand. No it was not. Is the reaction on this site by Liverpool fans justified. No it is not.

    The post is justified and a good discussion for this forum. There should be more like it.

    1. Well, he made a tit for tat ethnic response to Evra and this goal, and he dives like he plays for Barcelona, though his diving has lessened in recent weeks.

      People make him sound like he is a Balotelli. I have heard disinterested parties call Suarez’s goal cheating and happenstance, so from that alone, I have to wonder just how obvious this “cheating” was. That the goal was allowed is unfortunate, but the ref in real time thought it wasn’t deliberate.

      But Suarez seems to have a super high standard to reach. Yes, he dives way too much. So did Lucas, but he grew out of it. Suarez is also one of the top scorers in the EPL via a bunch of really top quality (non-cheating) goals. Labeling Suarez a cheat is unfair. His treatment in the EPL has been abhorrent.

      I suppose Man. United is just better at cheating, as they do it less often, but at the right time or right manner.

  39. I assume tomorrow’s headline on this site will read ” Messi, that cheat, wins 2012 World Footballer of the Year award”.

  40. Most times, when players unintentionally handle the ball there’s an involuntary reflex of pulling pulling their arm/hand away. In my opinion Suarez handled the ball on purpose. Suarez is a bloody cheat and his antics don’t even get talked about enough. Anyone that watches liverpool games can see the blatant diving but what’s even worse is that he has gotten into the habit of purposely stamping on the back heels of players when he is trying to get the ball. It has happened a few times this season, yet no one talks about it.

  41. It’s a sad day when any human being challenges a sports
    announcer for telling it like it is. Champion called it as he saw
    it and that’s all that counts. One can agree or disagree but that
    what he saw and that is what he reported. Free speech is everyone’s
    right in America. For chicken shit ESPN to deny free speech in this
    case is way off track. Sportscasters today are fearful to say the
    wrong thing because of criticisms from the public like this. Who
    cares? He called it like he saw it and that’s what I want from my
    sportscaster. I don’t want a guy who is afraid to say what he
    believes. That’s why Howard Cosell was the greatest sportscaster of
    all time. He could care less what the public would say about his
    call. He called it like he saw it, and in my humble opinion his
    call was right on the mark. This is not the first time Suarez has
    done this. It’s not the second time, either, and not even the third
    time. I’d throw the bum outta football for good. The game doesn’t
    need cheaters like him or divers like him and Bale. Play the game
    the way it’s meant to be played. It’s not supposed to be “get away
    with what you can get away with”. That is dishonorable and Suarez
    is way past being dishonorable. ESPN should be thrown off the air
    for censorship like that-they make me puke. Long live Jon Champion
    and The Gaffer for telling it like it is. If you don’t like
    journalism like that, go read The Sun or some fairy tale BS like
    that. Tim Krass

    1. The issue about Jon Champion’s comments are not about free speech, they are about context, biasness and fairness. How many other players who have done what Suarez did has he called a cheat?

      An announcer either labels everyone with the same tag or no one. ESPN was correct in reprimanding Champion because he is not allowed to be biased or give the impression that he is biased. Announcers are supposed to be neutral. Otherwise, they lose their credibility for fairness and that in turn affects the network.

  42. Sorry Gaffer, Champion was out of order, to call Suarez “a cheat” on this occasion.

    The striker didn’t have a clue when the ball hit his hand, reminded me of the Henry/Ireland incident. To the letter of the law, the referee’s decision to give the goal has some merit but it should have been disallowed per standard practice by most officials – however, the blame should go to the referees.

    Suarez probably missed an opportunity to redeem himself from his dispicable antics in the last World Cup and the Evra incident, by doing a Di Canio type mea culpa, but it’s not in his or most footballers’ nature to do so. Shame.

  43. First time on this website and I entirely agree with the article above. In fact, I came here just after leaving the following “feedback” on the ESPN UK website:

    I was disappointed to hear that ESPN have censured Jon Champion for his comments on Luis Suarez during Liverpool’s FA Cup match on Sunday 6 January 2013, as widely reported.

    Mr Champion should be applauded for that rare thing in English football, namely a pundit/commentator offering an opinion, rather than falling back on the usual tired, anodyne platitudes.

    Mr Champion clearly has a greater knowledge of football that those who have taken the decision to censure him, and Suarez’s litany of crimes in the name of professionalism more than entitle him to make the statement he made.

    Should ESPN be concerned that Suarez may have a cause of action in the tort of defamation, they would do well to remember that there are well-established legal defences that they can apply here such as Fair Comment and Truth.

    Backing Mr Champion would have been the strong decision, bringing greater respect and (who knows?) increased subscriptions to the network. I for one will not be subscribing now.

  44. You’re right about sanitising commentaries, but it certain instances the commentator should give you the viewer time to make your own mind up. Jon Champion saw one ‘Slow Motion’ replay, then proceeded to defame the character of a player who has been trying to clean his act up. If he had said that he cheated rather than ‘that’s the act of a cheat’, he may have been better served.
    For incidents that aren’t black or white people need to be careful how they put their point across i.e. you are certain that he cheated yet you can’t prove this, therefore making it an accusation, I personally believe he instinctively handled rather than thinking I’m going to cheat. Anyone who has played at any level has done this, anywhere on the pitch.ý

  45. You’re better than this, Gaffer. This is such anti-Suarez/Liverpool crap, its ridiculous. So where to start?

    First off, obviously, Champion is in the wrong. You can’t be a commentator and label him a “cheat”, especially in a bang-bang play. Even if you agree with it, that is a biased view. Going by that logic then commentators should be able to call John Terry a “twat”, “an absolute horror of a human being” on air. Haven’t heard you calling for that.

    Second, I’ve read your stuff since you were on Fox. Please point to the article where you called out Messi for his handball(which was truly cheating) or earlier this season where you called out the commentator for not calling Ba a “cheat” when he scored the tying goal against Reading. Or please show me the article where you said any player who has gotten the advantage of a bad call should be chastised for not doing what Klose did once in his career? I didn’t think so.

    Finally, you said on here that if anyone has been following you for years that they would know that you aren’t anti-Liverpool because you stood up to what Steven Cohen said. First, what Steven Cohen said was so horrific that if you weren’t against it then you have problems that go much deeper than being against a certain club. Second, that is a bit like Blatter saying he is not against black people and he then posts a picture of himself with a black guy on Twitter. Its quite obvious you have a bias against Liverpool and especially Suarez. I hate United, but I can admit it. I’ve read you for years and can tell you don’t like Liverpool but so do many commentators, its nothing big.

    You’re better than trying to be a trashy tabloid paper that you read back in England. The Red Tops are so irrelevant that the only way they can resort to any kind of attention is with articles like this that try to swell National Pride and look down on the “dirty, cheating foreigners”. Be better than it.



    1. Sorry I’m so amazed that you put this that I left out the most important thing why this is terrible:

      You are actually saying that you know Suarez’s intent. The minute you say you know his intent, you lose credibility.

      Ok I’m done ranting.



    2. Rob, it’s not anti-Liverpool. The article is just my opinion.

      I want to zero in on one thing you said: “You said on here that if anyone has been following you for years that they would know that you aren’t anti-Liverpool because you stood up to what Steven Cohen said. First, what Steven Cohen said was so horrific that if you weren’t against it then you have problems that go much deeper than being against a certain club.” I know it’s hard to believe after all of the revelations from the Hillsborough Disaster that have been shared in the past 12 months, but I was the first one (and only one at the time) that stood up to what Cohen said. There was then, and there is still now, plenty of people who still side with Cohen and believe what he says is the truth regarding what happened at Hillsborough.

      Going back to the article, which was more of a criticism of ESPN for reprimanding Jon Champion than an “attack” on Luis Suarez, you and I obviously disagree. But it has nothing to do with hating foreigners or trying to be like the Red Tops. Again, it’s just my opinion.

      The Gaffer

      1. Gaffer,

        The only one who stood up to Cohen? MANY stood up to Cohen, including his sponsors. I used to listen to him until he said that.

        And there are people who still side with Cohen? Well as I said originally, their problems go much deeper than a hatred of a certain club.

        As for this article, this is bias even if it is your opinion. In any case, I’m looking forward to your piece lambasting the announcers for not calling Jay Rodriguez a cheat.



        PS-I’m still not going to leave the site, I just felt compelled to write in :)

        1. I was the first person that stood up to Cohen by publishing the article about him. The sponsor ban came later.

          The Gaffer

  46. Here’s my issue with your argument: you think it perfectly game to call Suarez a cheat. Would it then, by extension, to describe a Terry tackle on a black player as, ‘That is the work of a racist.’?

    Just kidding. Kind of. But we’ve all seen Ferdinand or Carragher or Kompany repeatedly grab shirts in the box: has he called them cheats? When Gary Neville got carded for simulation, did Champion deem him a cheat? When Terry missed that penalty in Moscow, was he weak? When Skrtel sent that backpass for Tevez to intercept, was he called stupid on-air? When keepers hide the fact they actually tipped a ball into touch and then accept a goal kick, what then? Cheats, cheats, cheats.

    Thierry Henry. Ireland. Discuss.

    What a professional says is “That is cheating,” not “That man is a cheat.” And hence why ESPN tried to atone. (The station did NOT apologize, however, as you write.)

  47. Thought it interesting given the above comments that my local paper the Chicago Tribune thought the story import enough to run in today’s edition. I can assure you the papers editors have no favorites in the EPL.

    I guess the Gaffer is in good company.

  48. Whoa – comments ahoy! Not going to have a chance to read them all. I’m a little late to the party, but I think the writer’s premise is wrong here.

    You write:
    “What Champion said was appropriate. He called a spade a spade. Luis Suarez’s handball was so blatantly obvious that Champion’s words shouldn’t have been called into question. ”

    Unless you can, without a doubt, say that you know exactly what Suarez’s intentions were, it may be a little offensive to call him a cheat. Even the most biased Manchester United supporter would admit that there’s a possibility that it was accidental (especially given his reaction in blasting the ball in frustration into the net).

    Pointing out what you believe to possibly be an instance of cheating is one thing, but to label a player a cheat is inappropriate.

    That said, he’s a football commentator – a colour one at that. I’m sure the reprimand was nothing more than a public slap on the wrist. I don’t see much wrong with that though.

  49. By the by, the author is not anti-Liverpool nor anti-Suarez. He just has an opinion on a matter.

    I think he’s wrong, but that doesn’t make him inherently against anything.

    Fellow Reds, be better than the mob. Be sensible.

  50. im a neutral in this one..

    but Jon Champion had this one spot on…
    SUAREZ is a cheat.. sorry pool fans…

    he hit it with his hand in the goal..

    UNSPORTSMANSHIP CONDUCT plain and simple..

    forget the crap banter above…
    cheat.. handball.. goal..

    should never have happenend..

    Champion.. SPOT ON..

    ESPN should be ashamed…. i blame this on the US influence..

    tried and true commentator GOT IT RIGHT


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