The superior light held up against Luis Suarez flickered unsavourily yet again last night. He’s a fantastic footballer and certainly up there with the best of them. But despite his talent, and the fact he’s a player that most others could only dream of playing with, there’s no defending his actions last night. You can’t go around biting people, and you definitely shouldn’t make a habit of it.
But what I would say is this: what Suarez lacks in decorum/self-control he makes up for with passion. Players who are desperate to win will use whatever means possible to get one over on their opponents, and it doesn’t always come from the most rational of places. I should know; I’ve been in that position a few times and each time I’ve felt the full force of the law, and rightly so.
As a previous connoisseur of the dark arts of madness, I can understand where Suarez is coming from, so I’m a bit more sympathetic to his cause than most. Personally, I don’t think his actions should merit a lengthy international ban, but it’s looking like he’s going to receive just that. Although FIFA aren’t under any obligation to consider Suarez’s record it’s quite possible that they will, and what with last night’s incident playing out on football’s centre-stage, a slap on the wrists and a ten-match ban probably won’t be enough to satisfy the critics. I’m guessing he might get two years for what he did to Chiellini, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
All of this begs the questions: how does Suarez’s latest incident differ from other forms of assault that go on both on and off the pitch? Cantona was sentenced to two weeks in prison (later reduced to 120 hours of community service) after kung-fu kicking a Palace supporter. Duncan Ferguson got two weeks in prison for head-butting an opponent in ’95, and I got given a six-month ban and a stint in Strangeways after that regrettable incident in Liverpool city centre. So I guess the question I’m asking is: where do you draw the line, and what’s the fairest way of punishing footballers on and off the pitch?