IF THE TWITTER frenzy and TV coverage evaded you (or rather you it), then you might not have heard of Uruguayan striker Luis Suárez’s third attack on another player yesterday. Well, I say attack – I don’t mean a punch, a push or even a wielding of a dagger, but a bite. Yes, it’s really as unbelievable as you think. Having got off considerably lightly on his last two attempts to sample human flesh with a ban from matches, there is now much cry for a more serious course of action to be taken and I don’t disagree.
The victim this time: one Giorgio Chiellini of Italy who was being much less annoying than children at a wedding to have his shoulder snacked on. Yet still, even after the media furore and punishments that followed Suárez’s last chomp on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, the striker struck again. It defies belief that the Liverpool star, who berated the British press for their negative reaction last time, just does the same thing again. Perhaps poor, innocent Suárez just doesn’t know what he’s been doing wrong?
Oh, but he does – almost immediately after the bite he threw himself to the ground (something he does often, it has to be said), clutching his teeth, trying for some reason to convince the referee and the world that it was an accident. Nice try. Cameras everywhere.
“These things happen on the pitch,” he told Uruguayan media. Hark! If by “things” he means intentionally sinking his gnashers into another man’s shoulder then his professional principles are scarily skewed. His nonchalant attitude to assaulting rival players, and his perceived overreaction of the media suggest he thinks this okay. Once, in the heat of the moment, is perhaps forgivable. A second time would imply slight derangement or hunger. But a third time is much too far – an indication of someone with a temper who always wants his own way, and is prepared to dirtily and blatantly break rules to do so, and arrogant enough to think he can get away with it.
The fact that the 27-year-old chooses to bite players who get in his way is baffling. That’s the word, I think – it seems to stun and confuse people that someone of Suárez’s reputation resorts to using his rather prominent incisors as a means of managing his frustration. Even more so when biting is by no means an acceptable – or indeed normal – thing to do in society, let alone in the sporting world. This is the ‘beautiful’ game, isn’t it? Not a chance to pitch your idea for a Bend It Like Beckham-meets-Twilight film. Leave biting to animals and vampires, Luis.
I think another ban is in order – its length to be decided by the powers of FIFA who, I hope, will take this seriously. It needs to be a ban that won’t be over in a couple of months; a ban that isolates him from his sport for a good long while. A year-long ban from appearing in games – league and international – would help make him realise that what he is doing can’t go on. Think of the opponent players, too – no player should have to play in fear of contracting rabies. But before that, someone brainy needs to sit him down with a cup of tea and a plate of HobNobs and find out why he’s doing this. As I said, it isn’t normal; nobody else on the pitch resorts to biting. It is self-destructive behaviour. He might not realise it, but it is rapidly tarnishing the quality and talent he has as a player.
So imagine he is banned for a year, maybe two. Then comes the question: what does he do with his time? One option could be charity work, albeit muzzled for safety reasons, to prove to the world that he does indeed have a gentle, non-carnivorous side. Another could be an intensive 12-month house-training course led by José Mourinho where he can learn tricks such as rolling over, playing dead and how to stay on his feet when lightly nudged by another player. Failing all of that, I’m sure there are beavers in Canada who could do with a hand felling trees.