Louis Suarez: Putting the bite on a flawed genius

LOUIS Suarez has been described as the flawed genius of football.

Everyone has been temporarily denied that genius after FIFA banned him from the rest of the World Cup for a now infamous biting incident – his third – which this time saw him tuck into the shoulder of Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini.

Nothing happened at the time despite Chiellini’s furious and indignant display to the referee of teeth marks in his skin.

But Suarez’s dark history of such incidents could not be ignored, the bandwagon of retribution gathered pace and he was duly punished by football’s highest authority.

What is more worrying is that not only was the incident blatantly obvious for what it was but that Suarez opened himself up to ridicule for a pathetic claim that he “lost balance” and that  Chiellini “bumped into me with his shoulder”.

Presumably, Louis, that was while you were tucking your knapkin in for a quick snack!

Because football is such a circus there must be more than a few fans left totally bemused by later events which have seen Suarez’s ban criticised……even by Chiellini!

My own feeling is one of great sadness that such mesmerising talent is marred by a mind which more than one senior football figure feels needs urgent help.

Let’s not mince words about this. When printing had finished for the football book of rules there wasn’t a single word devoted to guidance on when it was permissible to bite an opposing player.

There were plenty of obscure rules such as goalkeepers not being allowed to roll their sleeves up or wear short sleeved shirts, but the rule makers felt no guidance was needed about biting because even the most dim-witted of footballers should automatically know it wasn’t allowed……..but not Suarez.

I am minded of the old saying: “Once might be happenstance, twice might be circumstance but third time does for all.”

Suarez has certainly been done and quite rightly too, but apart from the small pool of people who feel he has been hard done by for such a lengthy ban, is it actually severe enough?

Let’s forget, for a moment, that we are talking almost incredibly about an incident on the field during a game of football and let’s imagine that Suarez is walking down a street.

Suddenly he chooses to bite someone, the incident is investigated, he is hauled before a court and his solicitor urges magistrates to be lenient because his client has never done anything like this before. The magistrates are swayed, Suarez is ordered to pay £50 compensation to his victim and the court gives him a conditional discharge for six months.

All too soon Suarez is again walking down the street, fancies another nibble and a second person is injured. He is again hauled off to court only this time his solicitor must adopt a different tack because his client has history with a similar attack.

So he tells magistrates that his client has voluntarily gone on an anger management course, that he is extremely remorseful, that he has personally written and apologised to the victim and that he will never launch such an assault again.

This time magistrates are less inclined to be lenient and they give him a suspended three-month prison sentence, order him to do 200 hours community service and to pay his latest victim £250 in compensation.

With awesome inevitability Suarez is walking down the street when he strikes for a third time only this time he is remanded in custody for reports with a warning that he is likely to go to prison.

That’s how it might go in a civil court, so I believe he has been fantastically lucky to get away with only being banned for a few games and losing a few sponsors.

But I also believe that his luck has run out.

One more biting incident and I think football’s authorities will have no alternative but to ban him for life if not for his sake then for the sake of his footballing opponents whose troubles deserve to be confined to worrying about his skills not worrying about his teeth.



Can England win a penalty shoot-out?


THERE can be few more chilling words calculated to send fear into the heart of a fan watching England than – “It’s all on penalties now!”

We have the worst World Cup record for losing on penalties of any other team in the entire competition.

The Three Lions lost on penalties in 1990, again in 1998 and also in 2006 and, while Italy have also lost three times, they at least have the satisfaction of winning one World Cup penalty shoot-out in 2006.

So it is perhaps inevitable that fans get a bit twitchy when the dreaded “p” word crops up.

It doesn’t stop them talking about penalties of course, usually with a fervent prayer that the match doesn’t go that far.

But if it does and England are involved – which knowing our luck is a real possibility – then you’ll need to decide how you are going to watch the penalties being taken.

The following are a few suggestions, but you’ll have to make your own mind up which category your nerves are most suited to.

Group 1, the “Come on England!” This category contains the die-hards, those too loyal to allow reality into their thinking or too mentally scarred from crying after watching the three previous England penalty shoot-outs.

These fans don’t cheer in case it disturbs the England penalty taker. They just stand still as statues holding their pint as the spot-kick is taken. If you hear the sound of smashing glass and calls for a first aid kit then England have missed their first penalty.

Group 2, the drunk “Come on England!” This category is often so befuddled that they don’t actually realise England have missed a penalty or, indeed, that full and extra time are both over.

The last they can remember was going to the bar to get four John Smith’s, a Guinness, two ciders and a port and lemon for Daphne who was well up for it! That plus a trip to the gents means he will likely need serious convincing when he comes back that the match is hanging in the balance with England trying to score in one of the two goals his double vision is now showing him.

Group 3, the “Come on England!” shirt. This category often hunts in packs with some shirts showing crude stitching where they were badly mended after being torn in half following the last England penalty shoot-out defeat.

For such fans it’s all in the chant. This sounds something like “ING-GER-LAND” at the start of the game, “NGLAND” during the game and “BUNCH OF TOSSERS” after we’ve lost the penalty shoot-out.

Group 4, the “Come on England!” 1966 Brigade. This category is not only relaxed but usually offers philosophical comments such as: “Is that Geoff Hurst in the crowd? Could do with him on the pitch”. Jeers of “Who’s Geoff Hurst?” tend to upset them a bit.

They’ve also seen it all before as World Cup winning fans, but they’re all over 50 now because that’s how long it’s been since England fans tasted glory. When it goes to penalties and England miss they’ll think it’s all over….and it probably will be.

Group 5, the “Come on England!”: A New Hope. Like Star Wars, those in this category are light years from home but still feel the Force is with them as they support England in Rio.

So Barrie’s got the Tostao trots, Duncan’s lost his ticket and Pat’s gone to the wrong stadium, who cares. It’s Come on England! all the way.

So I’ll leave you with this thought. Surely we’ve got to win the penalty shoot-out this time!!