Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

What if Luis Suarez knows exactly what he’s doing?

Luis Suarez made contact with the Italy defender before going to ground. Giorgio Chiellini then accused him of biting his shoulder
Luis Suarez made contact with the Italy defender before going to ground. Giorgio Chiellini then accused him of biting his shoulder
Mario Balotelli of Italy greets Luis Suarez of Uruguay prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Uruguay at Estadio das Dunas on June 24, 2014 in Natal, Brazil.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Mario Balotelli of Italy greets Luis Suarez of Uruguay prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Uruguay at Estadio das Dunas on June 24, 2014 in Natal, Brazil. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Luis Suarez of Uruguay is interviewed after the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Uruguay at Estadio das Dunas on June 24, 2014 in Natal, Brazil.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Luis Suarez of Uruguay is interviewed after the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Uruguay at Estadio das Dunas on June 24, 2014 in Natal, Brazil. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

I concede that Luis Suarez's frivolous face-plant account of this, the third major biting infraction of his career, was a beauty.

You wonder how the Fifa assizes ever saw through it. But far more revealing was the balcony scene with the kids the day before the authorities released the priceless fiction relating to the moment the teeth of Suarez coincided with Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder.

While the court of Luis I convulsed at his exclusion, the king took to the veranda of his mother’s home, as any dutiful son would, in Lagomar near Montevideo, a child in each arm, to say thank you to his people for their enduring love and support.

Observing Suarez in the domestic nest, the first thought that struck was how he might deal with the blight that afflicts many a lively infant, the biting episode.

How would he explain to the biter, were it young Benjamin or daughter Delfina, that behaviour of that sort is non-negotiable since it runs counter to the very idea of decency and civility at the heart of our culture?

Suarez seems to function like a fully rounded individual in that setting. Indeed, there is barely a dissenting voice in Uruguay or Liverpool, where grown men fall over themselves to attest to his devotion and commitment to family and friends, his generous nature and so on.

Therefore, armed as he is with this naturally occurring, all-round good-egg quality, you would fully expect him to rebuke the naughty child in order that he or she might develop into a good-natured individual like Pops.

If we allow this idea of Saint Luis to take hold, then we might lob a hand grenade into the popular line of inquiry that seems to want to get to the bottom of a victim complex, to understand why this essentially good man repeatedly falls foul of appalling recidivist tendencies. Poor man, he can't help himself, he needs help, that sort of cod.

Uruguayan president Jose Mujica says Fifa are 'a bunch of old b******s'

Luis Suarez admits biting Giorgio Chiellini: Vows never to bite anyone again 

Uruguay's soccer player Luis Suarez holds his children as he greets fans from their home's balcony on the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay, Friday, June 27, 2014. Suarez returned to Montevideo early Friday, arriving too late to see the hundreds of Uruguay fans who had gathered the previous night to give him a hero's welcome despite his World Cup banishment. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)
Uruguay's soccer player Luis Suarez holds his children as he greets fans from their home's balcony on the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay, Friday, June 27, 2014. (AP Photo)
Uruguay's soccer player Luis Suarez holds his daughter as he greets fans from their home's balcony on the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay, Friday, June 27, 2014. Suarez returned to Montevideo early Friday, arriving too late to see the hundreds of Uruguay fans who had gathered the previous night to give him a hero's welcome despite his World Cup banishment. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)
Uruguay's soccer player Luis Suarez holds his daughter as he greets fans from their home's balcony on the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay, Friday, June 27, 2014. Suarez returned to Montevideo early Friday, arriving too late to see the hundreds of Uruguay fans who had gathered the previous night to give him a hero's welcome despite his World Cup banishment. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 26:  A woman takes a photo next to an advertisement featuring Uruguay's Luis Suarez on Copacabana Beach on June 26, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Suarez has been banned by FIFA for four months following a biting incident during a match.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
A woman takes a photo next to an advertisement featuring Uruguay's Luis Suarez on Copacabana Beach on June 26, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Suarez has been banned by FIFA for four months following a biting incident during a match. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

But what if that is the wrong question? What if the therapeutic approach is missing a massive point? What if there is no need to unravel some primitive brain function that overrides all well-adjusted behaviours?

What if he knows exactly what he is doing? What if he is not driven to act impulsively but chooses to act as he does? What if it is just the rank bad behaviour of an overindulged adult allowed to do as he pleases, surrounded by sycophants afraid to say no? Ever thought of that, doctor?

When a player can do what Suarez does on the pitch, make a difference even among the best players in the world, then he has power. Those shooting at the same goalposts are not the least bit interested in challenging that commodity, only harnessing it in their own interest and, when required, apologising for it.

So Liverpool’s big move now is to work out how they might keep him, or sell him at maximum value. Their first concern is not abhorrence at his actions but how to maximise interest.

This is the same reflex operating at club level as revealed on the international stage by Uruguay.

This is not to slam Liverpool in isolation. There is not a club in operation that would behave any differently. This is the culture of big-business football and ultimately damns all involved in the game.

If Suarez were not a unique force of nature on the pitch, his selfish behaviour on it would not be tolerated. If he couldn’t kick a ball at all he would have been punished appropriately years ago.

The collective response in Uruguay has raised the absurd deification a further level. Watch that trend continue when Madrid, Barcelona and the billionaire petrodollar outfits compete with their offers of sanctuary so that he may escape the torment of a return to Merseyside and the English persecution.

Even those in the “English-speaking world” who condemn Suarez finish the sentence with the universal rider that he is a great player, as if they fear the consequence of total excommunication by the Luis lobby.

Perhaps it is as well that a new, and at least for now, more wholesome hero has emerged to clear the football palate.

While Suarez is returned to the bosom of his homecoming team-mates, we salute the boy who sent Uruguay packing, Colombia’s very own J-Rod, also known as James Rodriguez.

There is a subculture of teenage PlayStation and Xbox gurus who saw this 22-year-old coming via their immersion in Fifa gaming products. He is no secret either in the precincts of Porto and Monaco, who laid down £36m for him last summer.

But for the casual observer at this World Cup, the connection with Rodriguez amounts to a renewal of vows with the game we love most.

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