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Jun 25 2014

Luis Suarez: Toeing the Line Between Genius and Insanity

The Headline in the Liverpool Echo this morning read: “He Needs Help”

The Headline in the Liverpool Echo

The Headline in the Liverpool Echo

Widely regarded as a genius on the football field but with a flawed character, Luis Suarez proved his naysayers right yesterday. Uruguay faced Italy for the battle of group D. At the time, all we saw in real time was a tussle between Giorgio Chiellini and Suarez. Those at the stadium wouldn’t have known what happened, the ref didn’t even know what happened. Those of us at home had the advantage of action replays. By the time the match was done and dusted (Godin scored the only goal of the game, knocking Italy out of the World Cup) all anyone was talking about was the “bite.” Not that the Uruguayan star isn’t used to controversy. Lets look at Luis Suarez’ troubled past:

  • In July 2010 he became the villain in South Africa after handling Dominic Adiyiah’s goal bound ball in the Quarter-Final of the World Cup against Ghana.
  • Later that year in 2010 while with Ajax, he was handed a 8 match ban for nibbling PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal.
  • In November 2011 he was found to have muttered racial slurs to Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. He received an 8 match ban and a hefty fine. The next time he faced Evra pre-match, he refused to shake his hand.
  • In April 2013 he was banned by the FA for 10 games for biting Chelsea man Branislav Ivanovic.

The Psychology Around Biting

Biting others is something we see in young children, usually in stressful circumstances. When it happens they’re usually reprimanded and hopefully the child now knows right from wrong and he/she wont do it again. Also as the child grows, they would learn how to handle stressful situations, without biting. Its certainly not normal adult behaviour. I believe Suarez doesnt plan to bite, he does purely on impulse. In this situation, Uruguay were in dire need of a goal, frustration, maybe even helplessness led him to sink his teeth into Chiellini. Previously, against Chelsea, Liverpool were doing badly, having conceded a penalty. To dig deeper into the psyche around it, to find out what makes Suarez blow his cool , we’d need collateral information from his parents and peers as a young boy (Something Wright Thompson dove into deeply in his piece: Portrait of a Serial Winner. Thanks to Barcelista for alerting me to this one). The passion he plays football with is clear. With the ball, he is relentless, never willing to give up a pass, never willing to accept defeat. Unfortunately the same energy spills over when hes under stress and while the game brings out the best in him, I’m sorry to say it also brings out the worst.

Giorgio Chiellini shows his bite mark - damning evidence

Giorgio Chiellini shows his bite mark – damning evidence

The Internet Explodes

The best came from Nando’s UK:

This latest biting saga has sent the entire footballing fraternity into a frenzy. The internet had exploded with jokes and memes (as seen above) while officials at the Uruguayan FA and Liverpool FC hold crisis talks. FIFA has launched an official investigation. In the weeks prior to this, Suarez had been making headlines for good reasons: Barcelona and Real Madrid were reportedly in pursuit if him, with Liverpool keen to hold onto their star man. Will this latest bit of drama turn the whole transfer situation on its head? With a ban likely, reports coming out of Liverpool suggest that Liverpool is ready to cut their losses and sell. But will their prospective suitors still be interested in a man that’s received three lengthy bans in a span of 4 years?

The media, as always, has been ruthless. Some even calling for a lifetime ban on the striker. Let me make this clear: I in no way advocate Suarez’ behaviour but I do feel that there is a culture of “Witch- Hunting.” There have been countless players involved in headbutts, punches, kicking, assaults – sometimes even against refs and worse, fans. But none have ever received a lifetime ban. If a player is found guilty of an offense, hand down the appropriate ban and/or fine and get the player appropriate counselling. But calling for a lifetime ban? I think that’s a bit harsh. The longest ban FIFA has handed down during the World Cup was against Italian Mauro Tassotti for breaking Luis Enrique’s nose in 1994 – an 8 match ban. The FIFA disciplinary code sets a maximum of two years suspension or a maximum of 24 matches. Suarez has until 5pm (Brazil time) to submit an appeal. It will be interesting to see how FIFA handle this one.

Luis Suarez is a genius on the field, a sublime goal poacher and one of the best strikers in the world. Unfortunately, his actions will forever overshadow his great talent. And instead of going down in history as one of the best strikers in the game, he will probably be remembered for his misdemeanors.

What do you think would be an appropriate punishment for Luis Suarez?

-P

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4 pings

  1. Suarez and Chiellini kiss and make up » A Football Blog

    […] you haven’t heard about the latest Luis Suarez biting incident, even if you’re not a football fan, you may be living under a rock. Suarez bit Chiellini, he […]

  2. Suarez to Barcelona: A Fans Opinion » A Football Blog

    […] team mate and just an all round likable person. He is pretty sandal free off the pitch, but his antics on the pitch have told a different story. Three separate bans for three separate biting incidents tells a story. Lets not even get started on […]

  3. World Cup 2014: Fulfilled Wishes » A Football Blog

    […] Luis Suarez and that bite dominated headlines for a good few weeks. And now with his transfer to Barcelona done, the debate around the details of his ban are likely to be talk of the town for months to come. It has already been revealed that Barca will not be able to unveil him at Camp Nou. […]

  4. The Worlds Most Hated Footballers » A Football Blog

    […] you bite 3 different people on 3 different occasions, you will have your mental health questioned. That’s exactly where Suarez stands. Some sympathize with him, but his name is more than […]

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