Luis Suarez got off lightly
Liverpool faces key decision on striker's future
Trust me — I did not want to write this. They made me. I wanted to write about James Rodriguez and XherdanShaqiri and all the wonderful young talent breaking out at the World Cup in Brazil.
But my editors said, "No!" They insisted I pen some thoughts on Luis Suarez — the arch-villain of the piece (unless your hometown happens to be Montevideo). And, thankfully, the man who will play no further part at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
First, Suarez is guilty as charged. In my mind there is no question he intended to bite the shoulder of Giorgio Chiellini in just the same way he has crossed the line twice before. Now, as then, there are major consequences for his inexplicable actions.
It's inexcusable behaviour, which has been punished swiftly and decisively. You simply can't defend the indefensible. There is no place for biting in any sports arena on the planet. If that happens outside the stadium, Suarez deservedly goes to jail for assault.
Suarez has no control
Only Suarez knows what goes on between his ears. High, lows and frustration are all part and parcel of the game. But he's a professional athlete. As such he needs to be professional in every sense of the word — and a major part of that is controlling one’s emotions.
The ability to do so leads to controlled aggression on the field of play.
As an individual he shoulders great responsibility. It is to his teammates, his coach, the legions of fans and to his country — not to mention his sponsors.
Whether he likes it or not, Suarez is a leader and an ambassador for Uruguay. And, he let them all down in the blink of an eye.
FIFA did right thing
FIFA had no option but to act. As soon as the disciplinary committee was satisfied Suarez was culpable, the sentence had to be handed down. As a serial offender, there is certainly an argument that Suarez got off lightly. This ruling means he’s back on the pitch in late October.
FIFA could have banned him for up to two years and, personally, I wouldn’t have had a problem with that. The world governing body has to send the strongest possible message that such behaviour can't and won't be tolerated regardless of your name or fame.
It's a shame we're discussing another Suarez meltdown moment. He's a supremely gifted footballer — among the very best and most consistent goal scorers of the current era. Suarez, alone, is worth the price of admission but his instability is threatening his entire career.
His goals almost led Liverpool to a first English Premier League title little more than a month ago, but how much longer will Anfield’s American owners stay patient? Suarez’s actions will have a direct impact on Liverpool’s ambitions next season as the club rejoins Europe’s elite in the Champions League.
Liverpool will either have to back him or sack him. For the good of the game and young, impressionable fans around the world, Liverpool needs to do the right thing.