The Luis Suarez situation is an interesting one, if even a little tedious. I’m not claiming to have an answer. Simply give my thoughts on this scenario. No more than that. I think the current furore is adding to a difficult situation and I’m arguably no different in that aspect. However, it’s worth looking at more than just the “bite”.
Suarez has no defense for his actions on the pitch at the Estadio das Dunas the other night. It’s fair to say that everybody must take responsibility for their actions and he’s no different. The position he holds is one of importance in that he is a global figure and perhaps reluctantly, a role model for many that follow him. In Uruguay and globally. Both young and old.
This is not the first time Suarez has been culpable of such outrageous and let’s face it, dangerous behavior. Not to mention the obvious injury he may have caused, there is also the matter of the transmission of disease. One cannot discount that. No matter how blinkered a Liverpool fan one may be. These are potentially life-threatening events. No question.
In my personal opinion, he should be banned from International football full stop. There should be no way back. Not after repeating the act. Not once but twice after the very first incident in November 2010 whilst with Ajax when he bit Otman Bakkal. A message must be sent out that this is unacceptable at any level of sport let alone football.
It’s only this morning the Mirror carries a story about a seven year-old boy getting into trouble for doing the very same thing. Now we can make what we can of that but there is clearly something wrong here. We’re going beyond the ugly scenes of players surrounding referees when a decision goes against them when it is blatant and clear that they have no argument. A discussion for another time but the point remains. These things need addressing. Not just in football but in society also. I could say as a result of football but the sad fact is football is portraying an aspect of human behavior. Man. The animal supposedly with intelligence being his greatest asset.
However, having said that, what Suarez has is reason. This is not the reason that many may notice. Not abuse on the pitch. Some subtle winding up by Georgio Chiellini or coins thrown from the stands. Frustration in front of goal etc. His reason goes far deeper than that. Many will hate me for saying this but the reason is , perhaps, of his very existence. Suarez was not born yesterday. He is 27 years-old. The story began on 24th January 1987 in Salto Uruguay. Like every story, it has a beginning, a middle and an end.
The fourth brother of seven. His family was not well off by any stretch of the imagination. From what I understand, Suarez’s parents split up when he was quite young. Around nine years old. This coming about two years after the family moved to Montevideo. The broken home is enough for any family to deal with and it’s not rocket science to work out that this, along with coming from a relatively poor family can arguably make things harder. Bringing up seven boys cannot be easy, and I say that as the youngest of three! Now you can say that this is the soft option. Playing the “Oh poor Luis Suarez” card, but any sane person should know that behavior is learnt from a very young age. Not when you sign for Groningen at the age of 19 for £600,000 or when you arrive at Liverpool in a £22.8m deal at 23.
We’re now getting to the middle. Clearly one has to take responsibly for one’s actions and he is no exception as I’ve said before. Realistically though, life is never that simple. Suarez is the product of his upbringing and the experiences he’s had approaching the apex of his career and the middle of this story. Uruguay is not the UK, or Europe and standards, expectations and culture is very different to what we take for granted. It would be a very bold and convincing argument to convince me that the 27 year-old had never seen or committed the act of biting another person before the event at Ajax. Whether it’s an opponent or simply a passer by. Now we have a man from South America, being judged by an institution which is based in Switzerland. Hardly the same is it. The affluence of watch-making, Toblerone, Oil Trading and Banking casting verdict on somebody from the total opposite of the human spectrum.
FIFA were, on the whole, correct in their sanction against Suarez, but only the sanction. I felt it should have been a permanent international ban but that’s just my opinion. Perhaps too harsh butI’ll explain why shortly. This whole thing is about balance. Like all situations are. If you can wield the sword of punishment, you should be prepared to offer the hand of compassion. This is the real Justice. I don’t believe Suarez is a bad person inherently. I’ve described him as a knob in previous articles, which he may well be. However, this does not necessarily mean he intends to be. It’s just the way his story began and has led him to this middle.
I don’t know the FIFA rules in all honesty. Is there anything in them about rehabilitation, compassion, or helping those who haven’t had the luxury of the cosseted upbringing the writers of their code may have had? Correct me if I’m wrong, but probably not I presume. A harsher sentence would send the message, once and for all that this behavior is not only incorrect but totally unacceptable.
That, coupled with a genuine understanding of reason, and trying to address it would probably instill a greater awareness in, and provide more credibility in FIFA to, the millions around the globe. The parents, the fans, the children and the future for the stars we don’t know yet. Maybe that way, we can look to a better end. Starting with Luis Alberto Suárez Díaz.
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