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Stop telling this sinner he’s been hard done by

By Sam Wallace

The one racing certainty in the aftermath of a Luis Suarez disciplinary hearing is that there will be someone, somewhere protesting that he has been treated harshly.

It was no different yesterday when the world players' union, FIFpro, with a tenuous claim to be "the voice of all professional footballers worldwide," said the Court of Arbitration for Sport should have taken into account Suarez's willingness to undergo treatment when rejecting a reduction in his ban.

One of the key problems in Suarez's rehabilitation, three biting bans into his career, is those around him who tell him what he wants to hear. In FIFpro's case it should have been plain that Suarez undertaking treatment for his habit of shoulder chewing was the very least he should be doing.

As for the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF), it can be relied upon to wring its hands at the tyranny of European morality. Lamenting Cas's refusal to reduce Suarez's international ban, which rules him out of next summer's Copa America, the AUF president Wilmar Valdez described it as a "cultural matter". "The way we treat football in South America is different to Europe," he said.

"We use sanctions when they are deserved, but not ones that are so harsh."

The impression AUF officials tend to give is that Suarez's misdemeanours remain easily resolved cultural misunderstandings, like extinguishing a cigarette lit indoors in a public place.

The four-month domestic and nine-match international bans feel as appropriate as they were when handed down by Fifa at the World Cup. Any complaint from Barcelona that they will be without him for a longer period, 11 games, than Uruguay, with whom he committed the offence, is paper thin. Barca knew the terms when they signed him.

The relaxing of the ban on "football-related activities" will be viewed as a small victory, but it means the Suarez saga will loom large over Barcelona until his playing ban expires. Is he worth it? Let's wait and see.

Belfast Telegraph


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