For the betterment of the beautiful game, Luis Suarez’s career must not bite the dust
Once again, the best and worst of Luis Suarez came to the fore during the two matches that he has played in the World Cup; single-handedly destroying England despite being only half fit in the first match and, having been frustrated by an organised Italian side in the second, biting centre-back Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder.
Touted by many as one of the favourites to win the Golden Boot, alongside fellow South Americans Neymar and Lionel Messi, Suarez showed his class and passion for the game when he scored the winning brace and broke down into tears at the final whistle in the match against England. His passion and talent are perhaps the main reasons why people are so surprised when the ‘ugly’ side of Suarez comes out, as not only will he not take part in the World Cup anymore, but he has also jeopardised his chances of a big-money move to Spanish giants Real Madrid or Barcelona.
To make matters worse, this is the third time that Suarez has bitten a player, having done so at former club Ajax and current club Liverpool; serving a seven and 10 match ban for the respective incidents. Despite that, he seems to be showing no remorse for his actions, dismissing the bite by saying that these things happen in the area [18-yard box].
What is even more interesting is that pictures of last year’s Confederations Cup meeting between these two sides reveal that Suarez had tried to bite Chiellini then as well, but having failed to do so, decided to give it a second go this time around.
Suarez also made headlines during the last World Cup, for the wrong reasons, when he handled the ball on the line to prevent Ghana from scoring during the quarter-final clash. Suarez was condemned for his actions by everyone outside Uruguay and was famously labelled as a ‘villain’ by the Guardian and a ‘cheat’ by Telegraph. However, his actions in 2010 were justified, as anyone in his position would have done the same for his country.
Even though the latest incident cannot be condoned, it should still be taken into perspective. Suarez will not play in the World Cup this year, nor should he, but calls of the maximum penalty – a two-year ban – are harsh to say the least.
Suarez’s bite was a clear attack on another player and therefore deserves a lengthy ban but as far as assaults go, there have been much worse incidents that have been punished with much less. Antonio Valencia’s studs-up challenge in the match in Ecuador’s match against France, Paul Pogba’s scissor at Wilson Palacios in the France versus Honduras match and high elbows – deliberate or otherwise – by Neymar, Bacary Sagna and Olivier Giroud are all some of the incidents in this World Cup that have been much more dangerous than Suarez’s bite.
Even infamous incidents such as Roy Keane’s tackle on Alf-Inge Håland – which Keane admitted to having done deliberately to hurt Håland and effectively ended Håland’s career according to the player – led only to an additional five-match ban.
Other incidents include the tackle of German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher on French Patrick Battiston’s, which led to two broken teeth, three cracked ribs and a damaged vertebrae, and Martin Taylor’s tackle on Eduardo that broke his leg so horrifically that had it not been for the quick thinking of Arsenal’s physio, the striker would have had to get it amputated; the first incident was not even given as a foul and the second resulted in a minimal ban.
There are worse incidents of assault that have ended or derailed many careers but have been ignored by the media and authorities alike. Then why is Suarez’s bite causing such an uproar? Is it because he is a repeat offender?
If so then players plagued by indiscipline, such as Keane, Patrick Vieira and even Zinidine Zidane should have been given much bigger punishments than what they were given during various incidents in their career.
Is it because of the social unacceptability of biting someone and the negative connotations that come along with it? If so then Frank Rijkaard’s infamous spitting incident, when he spat twice at Rudi Voller in order to provoke him, should also have resulted in sterner repercussions.
If it is to set a precedent then that also will not do any good. In a sport where passions run high, players and fans alike will often get carried away, and such unfortunate incidents are bound to happen.
Suarez is an incredible player and even though he deserves to be punished for this incident, he should not be condemned for it, and for the sake of the sport, the indiscipline of one of the best strikers of our times should not be allowed to dominate his talents.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.