Luis Suarez bites his way to World Cup infamy

Luis Suarez could have exited Brazil's World Cup a giant killer, a leading goalscorer and a redeemed figure at the top of his game. Now he's probably leaving as a punchline, Andrew Davidson writes.

Uruguay's ever-mystifying striker could have emerged as Brazil tournament's star

Uruguay's Luis Suarez gets up from the ground during a 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match against Italy at the Dunas arena in Natal. (Toru Hanai/Reuters)

Luis Suarez hath sinned. Never mind which book of judgment you apply, be it Old, New or FIFA Testament — although only God knows what counts as a sin in the verses of the latter.

FIFA announced early Wednesday that its disciplinary committee has opened proceedings against Suarez, just hours after the end of Tuesday's Uruguay-Italy match, in which Suarez appears to have bitten Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.

Suarez's tournament is likely — and deservedly — over. Unless Argentina's Lionel Messi barehand strangles a child accompanying him out of the tunnel before the final in Rio, Suarez will leave Brazil as the top bad guy.

The church of football, with its apostles Pele and Maradona and Cruyff and Beckenbauer, has always accepted flawed heroes, many of whom struggle or disappoint in their conduct off the pitch.

But there are limits to forgiveness. And yeah, biting another player really isn't cool, Luis. Biting another player after being sanctioned twice before for biting other players? That's certifiable.

With one chomp of his adversary's shoulder, the ever-mystifying Suarez has chosen infamy over greatness, at a tournament that could have been his path to a great redemption. Brazil has now become his fastest chute to be forgotten for anything other than cartoonish villainhood.

Just 24 hours ago, Suarez appeared destined for lionization, even in opposing media, after a brilliant two-goal knockout performance against England, coming off knee surgery.

He's now a punchline, an internet meme, a chompy-bitey-racist chipmunk, Zidane's headbutt minus the whole Zidane legacy, you know, as a titan of the game.

Good, because Suarez really looks and sounds and acts like an awful human being.

Knowing him, as most soccer fans do by now, Suarez will probably try to weasel his way from his club team Liverpool and escape the Premier League to safer confines in Europe, if only to stave off that rendezvous with a now-salivating British press.

Now 27, he may have more great club seasons before injuries or age sap his explosive skills. Uruguay's other top players are old men, so a future qualification for 2018 or 2022 is far from guaranteed in a talent pool as perennially stacked as South America.

With that glaring reality, Suarez now risks fading into the shadows, only to be dragged back from oblivion when someone else does something stupid at a World Cup — if he's remembered at all.

His downfall in Brazil would be tragic, if only Suarez weren't such an odious little rat at the start of it. According to a Swedish gambling company, more than 150 people across Europe placed bets that he would bite someone during the World Cup. Smart bet.

Just two weeks ago, a seemingly contrite Suarez insisted in English papers that he had learned from his past transgressions, and expressed worry about how the negative stories about him would potentially harm his children.

Fast forward to after the Italy match, and Suarez was downplaying the latest as not "a big deal."

Perhaps Suarez doesn't care who or what judges him. Perhaps he isn't ready to be redeemed, like another noted sinner, St. Augustine of Hippo, who appealed in his Confessions, "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet."

On such a scale as this World Cup, and with time's teeth chomping at Suarez's heels, another chance at redemption seems slim.


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