“Violence, racism, playacting and such acts of indignity have no place in football.” We have all heard this line being spoken like its some commandment by the Footballing Gods. Well, there is a message for us mere mortals from one Bill Shankly: “Some believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you, it is much much more important than that”
Wherever we look in the modern game, footballers have become pansies. From Sergio Busquets and Dani Alves rolling around like people who have been shot after a hair from the opponent grazed them, to seeing Diego Costa, Didier Drogba and of course, Olympic diver Ashley Young going down in an empty penalty area – it’s becoming ridiculous.
And then there’s Luis Suarez. Ah, that polarizing agonizing twit of a striker. Ghosting around all defenders, terrorizing them with his smile. Not because it’s scary (though it really is) but because it bares teeth. Teeth he all too often uses as a means to get a taste of opponents. As if moving around like a firework with the ball at your feet and converting chance after chance was not enough. As if him being one of the best strikers in the world was not enough for defenders to fear, now they need fear his teeth too. And Suarez, lets not kid ourselves here – is a brilliant footballer. Right up there with the best in the last three years. Yet, too often, when he wants to – he goes all cannibal on the field. He’s done it at Ajax to Ottman Bakkal and at Liverpool to Branislav Ivanovic. And now he’s topped himself with a brilliant nibble on Chiellini’s shoulder. Nevermind the fact that the giant Italian might have had wild, insanely gratifying sex the night before and showed his lover’s bitemarks off to the ref (not saying that’s what happened, just saying). He probably bites Sturridge in training which is why they explode on the field. Maybe the fear of extra biting keeps Sturridge running amok for the Merseysiders.
Of course, his behavior is unacceptable. But is it so easy to vilify him that we gladly rip him to shreds, just like he did to England (when half-fit and untrained), not a week back? This modern world is fickle and it’s proven beyond all doubt when we see a character like Suarez. Last week, the English papers couldn’t stop singing his praises and saying he’s the best in England. Today, they want him shipped off in restraints to a madhouse. Modern technology and replays have made it so easy for people to criticize but not to sit back, observe, deliberate and then formulate an opinion. It’s a bane of the same tech without which this article cannot be published. Of course, the Internet has taken its mockery to new levels. “Suarez has a taste for Italian” was one quote I read. I laughed and snorted. Then I thought to myself, ‘No. This is just plain f**king wrong’ and then I saw another meme and I laughed again before going to bed. I mulled it over. The meaning of life, of the universe, of memes and Suarez. Why his teeth love human flesh and why I suddenly felt hungry (nothing to do with me being high I assure you).
And it’s not as if history doesn’t give us aggressive players. There’s Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Eric Cantona, Zinedine Zidane and countless other brilliant players. Keane would punch anything he could reach. Gingerboy Scholes loved to tackle late and attempt leg breaks. Cantona went flying into the stands with a foot raised so high it would sock even LeBron James in his torso. And then, the ultimate stage, the World Cup final of 2006 was witness to the worst disgrace of all – Zidane. An impeccable career, and absolute brilliance came to one cuss from an Italian and a headbutt for the ages. And poof, not one kid under the age of ten as of today remembers Zidane for anything other than his headbutting antics. Nevermind he was probably the best player an entire generation has ever seen. Nevermind that of course. Most people have forgotten all of it but Zidane was the first to fall to the ignominy of a disgraceful World Cup moment thanks to cameras and an internet that had just realized its true potential. The Frenchman will be condemned, and readers will scoff at Suarez and at me, but I feel there is need for some leeway.
Of course, to defend Suarez is idiotic. Also, to not love him is idiotic too. On his day, he can run rings around twenty players, bite three of them and then score with his left pinky toe. On other days, he just does the chomping and om-nom-nom-ing because they don’t feed him well enough. But when all is said and done, the world of football pansies is craving his suspension so that he doesn’t rip apart the defenses of their favorite country or club and so that he doesn’t bite off more than he can chew (literally) in taking on their beloved players. Defenders, beware, The Tooth of Saito, Uruguay is on his way, and he’s looking for blood.