Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Luis Suarez is shameless... but clubs will still crave him

All smiles: Luis Suarez celebrates with match-winner Diego Godin
All smiles: Luis Suarez celebrates with match-winner Diego Godin

And then there were three. Otman Bakkal and Branislav Ivanovic have welcomed a new member to their group, Giorgio Chiellini. All bitten by the bug that is Luis Suarez. Maybe they should get together and compare marks. Suarez certainly knows how to make his, be it for scoring sensational goals or bringing shame on the beautiful game.

He did the latter yesterday.

On a football pitch in Natal the 27-year-old Uruguayan appeared to sink his teeth into Italian defender Chiellini, leaving an even sourer taste than the last time.

For a footballer capable of killing opposition teams in an instant with his outrageous skill, Suarez can be even quicker with a self destruct button.

He has let his country, his club Liverpool, himself and his family down — a family that he worships and dotes on like any loving husband and father.

Away from the field of play, he is a good natured, kind, popular person.

Once he walks on to it, he is both a winner and a lost cause.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers thought he had found a way to curb the ugly side of the Uruguayan, who on his best behaviour almost inspired the Reds to a shock Premier League title success last season. The Carnlough native will have been as disappointed as anyone by what happened in Brazil yesterday.

With the scores level at 0-0 between Italy and Uruguay, and the South Americans heading out of the competition, Suarez tussled with Chiellini inside the Italian penalty area on 79 minutes.

At first it seemed as though Suarez had headbutted Chiellini's shoulder, only for replays to suggest that he had bitten down on the Italian.

Seconds later, Suarez was holding his teeth. Chiellini could barely hold it together, furiously pulling down the neck off his shirt to expose what looked like a bitemark.

Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez, whose nickname would you believe is Dracula, took no action much to Chiellini's amazement and despair.

When Suarez bit Bakkal and Ivanovic, the unsighted officials took no action either.

PSV Eindhoven's Bakkal suffered at the gums of Suarez in 2010 when the striker was playing in Holland, earning him the nickname the “Cannibal of Ajax”. He was suspended for seven league games.

Ivanovic was the next victim for the serial offender in April last year when Chelsea played Liverpool at Anfield, leading Suarez to receive a 10 game ban from the Football Association, which he felt had treated him unfairly previously when suspending him for eight matches following a racism row involving Manchester United's Patrice Evra.

So, what now for King Luis, whose crown has bitten the dust once more?

Fifa must ban him — and tell him he should seek professional help — but for how long?

The longest ban in World Cup history is eight games for Italy’s Mauro Tassotti, who broke Spain’s Luís Enrique’s nose in 1994 with an elbow.

It should be that and more. Certainly Suarez should not play in this World Cup again — two minutes after his disgusting actions, Diego Godin scored the winner — sending Uruguay into the last 16.

Fifa's disciplinary code can ban a player for a maximum of 24 matches, and although I doubt they will go that far, it has to be at least 15 games given his previous punishments.

Anything less would seem ridiculous, though the Uruguayans will point to the fact that Fifa only gave France's Zinedine Zidane a three-match ban for headbutting Italy's Marco Materazzi in the 2006 final... no doubt arguing that was far more dangerous than someone biting off more than they could chew.

Forever accused of looking after the game's big names, Fifa's Disciplinary Committee, which includes IFA President Jim Shaw, cannot fail here with the eyes of the world upon them.

Ahead of the game with Italy, speculation increased that Suarez would leave Liverpool after the tournament and join Barcelona or Real Madrid in a big money move.

Will the Spanish giants still want him if he is suspended for a major chunk of next season's campaign?

Will Liverpool want him back after tarnishing their image yet again?

Yes and yes. Suarez, for his moments of madness, remains one of the best players on the planet and when you score 30 goals a season, football clubs and fans can be quick to forgive and forget.

Suarez will play, score and be a hero again, but it should not be for a long time.

Football must bite back against this unacceptable behaviour.

Suarez has a bit of previous...

Luis Suarez has found himself at the centre of another biting storm after a clash with Giorgio Chiellini in Uruguay's World Cup clash with Italy. Here, we look at some of the previous controversies surrounding the Liverpool striker.

February 2007: Makes his international debut for Uruguay against Colombia, but is sent off in the final minutes after being shown a second yellow card for dissent.

November 2007: Joins Ajax from Uruguayan side Nacional, but he is later suspended by the Dutch giants after a half-time dressing-room altercation with team-mate Albert Luque.

July 2010: During the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals, Suarez prevents Ghana's Dominic Adiyiah from scoring in the final minute with a deliberate handball on the line and is subsequently sent off. A penalty was awarded but missed by Asamoah Gyan and footage showed Suarez celebrating on the sidelines. Uruguay eventually went through to the last four on penalties.

November 2010: Handed a seven-match ban by the Dutch FA and fined by his club for biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal during an Eredivisie match.

October 2011: Following his move to Liverpool in January 2011, he was involved in a tackle with Everton's Jack Rodwell and went down with apparent minimal contact. Rodwell was then sent off.

October 2011: Alleged to have racially abused Manchester United's Patrice Evra during a Premier League match. Later found guilty by an independent regulatory commission, banned for eight matches and fined £40,000.

December 2011: Seen making an offensive gesture towards Fulham fans. At this time he had already been charged by the FA over the racism incident, although not yet punished, but was handed a further one-match ban for the gesture.

February 2012: United and Liverpool met again at Old Trafford, but more controversy blew up as Suarez refused to shake Evra's hand before kick-off.

October 2012: Celebrates a goal against Everton by diving in front of Toffees boss David Moyes, who had earlier claimed that “divers” such as Suarez were putting fans off the English game.

January 2013: Handles the ball prior to scoring Liverpool's winner in the FA Cup third-round tie at Mansfield.

April 2013: Bites Branislav Ivanovic on the arm, but escapes punishment on the pitch as the referee fails to see it and scores Liverpool's equaliser seven minutes into stoppage time as they draw 2-2 with Chelsea at Anfield. Fined by club the following day and charged with violent conduct by the FA. Subsequently handed a 10-match ban by an independent regulatory commission, which Liverpool opted not to appeal against.

June 2014: Television replays show Suarez moving his head towards Chiellini, who responded by swinging an arm before chasing the referee to apparently insist he had been bitten on the shoulder.

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