With so much sport going on at the moment, I have been struggling to decide over the last few days as to what I should write in this post. Of course, the football World Cup has been dominant in the British media but there has also been an enthralling cricket series between England and Sri Lanka, the start of the Wimbledon Championships, the Austrian GP and so on. However, the events of around 18:35 on the 24th June instantly made my decision for me.
At this time, England were struggling to a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica; however, this isn’t what I want to talk about. Whilst watching one of the dullest games of the World Cup so far, ITV’s commentator Clive Tyldsley announced that there was a confrontation in the other match in the group between Italy and Uruguay. He then stated that it had been alleged that the Azzuri’s Giorgio Chiellini had been bitten by Luis Suarez. My reaction – I barely moved a muscle.
Violence isn’t uncommon on a football field. Headbutts, elbows and punches are relatively regular occurrences but they are different to biting in one key way – they are largely used by humans only. Whilst some other species may use them, they are largely restricted to our race. Biting, on the other hand, is one of the most common forms of aggression amongst the majority of living beings on this earth and that is what makes it such a talking point. It’s so primeval and animalistic that it’s almost unbelievable that a footballer would turn to it during a game that, in the broad context of life, doesn’t mean much.
What’s even worse is that this isn’t the first time the Uruguayan has been caught munching on an opponent. As I’m sure many are aware, the Liverpool striker received a 10-game ban after biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic as recently as April last year, whilst in 2010 he was banned for seven games whilst playing for Ajax for a very similar offence. The action could be slightly more understandable if he’d been strongly provoked but each time it has seemingly come out of the blue. Chiellini was just doing his defensive duties and had done well to mark the striker out of the game. The defender then gave him a little nudge in the penality area and, before he knew what was happening, Suarez was burying his teeth in the defender’s shoulder. It was absurd, ridiculous and frankly disgusting.
Although it was initially unclear to TV viewers as to whether he’d headbutted or bitten the Italian, once the side-on camera was broadcast few could have been left with any doubt as to what had happened. Yet every single Uruguayan interviewed since denied anything has happened. How they can even try to deny he at least put his head into the Italian is absurd. Team-mate Diego Lugano used his press conference instead to turn on the media and accuse them of fabricating the whole thing. Whilst I have previously been critical of the media, the evidence offered by the camera and the clear bite marks on Chiellini’s shoulder makes his claims dumbfounding.
I personally hope Suarez’s career in England is over. I’m fed up (as I’m sure many are) of stupid and senseless acts such as this taking away from what a wonderful player he is. He also takes headlines away from those who really deserve it – Uruguay deserved praise after their hard-fought win against Italy meant they qualified for the next round of the tournament, yet instead the focus is on the bite. I don’t want to read about Suarez being an idiot, I want to read about heroic performances.
Being a Liverpool fan has been hugely frustrating. When Suarez first arrived on these shores I was one of many who defended his theatrical falls, diving etc. Even after he was accused of racism, I still wanted him at the club. Many fans still wanted him after the Ivanovic incident and he has gone and let down all of those who have supported and believed in him, none less than his manager Brendan Rogers. It’s not just that he tarnishes the team’s image; they have to try and win games without their star man and building a team around him is very difficult if he’s not actually playing. It was ok last season as Suarez only missed 6 matches, but this four month ban means he will miss 13 games and, with Liverpool back in the Champions League, they cannot afford to wait until November for him to come back to fully kick-start their season.
Normally the players are the ones that do this but I feel that this needs to be said – Barcelona, PLEASE sign Suarez. I don’t want him at the club and the sooner he is out of the picture the better. English football doesn’t need a player like him ruining the game and Liverpool need to be able to move on quickly and prepare for the upcoming season.