Let’s just address the 600 lb gorilla in the room right off the bat… I’m not sure what’s wrong with Luis Suárez. In the 79th minute of Uruguay’s Group Stage tilt against Italy, “Bad Luis” reared his ugly head again. It would appear from the replays that Suárez, lord knows why, up and sunk his teeth into defender Giorgio Chiellini‘s shoulder while the refs weren’t looking. If he did, in fact, do this–It’s fairly obvious, given the video and Suarez’s history, that he did–it would be Suárez’s third such offense. The last one garnered him a 10-game ban from Liverpool, and there’s no telling what punishment this one will get him.
I can’t express the disbelief I’m feeling right now. We all know Suárez is a head case, but over the last year he seemed to have turned over a new leaf. Since coming back from his 10-game ban, he had dedicated himself to setting a good example for his wife and children (his wife allegedly threatened to never take their kids to a game if he didn’t change his ways), and hadn’t gotten into any trouble at all. He also had his best season on the pitch for both club and country. It all came apart against Italy today.
Why, Luis? Why would you do this to us now? Just a few days ago, we were lauding him as our King–a hero who had basically carved out his legacy in Uruguayan fútbol with two distinct but equally awesome goals against England. Now, we can barely enjoy our win because he made yet another terrible decision in a career full of terrible decisions. The ESPN announcers, Jon Champion and Stewart Robson, both seemed to share the utter shock I was sensing, as Robson said “”Oh dear. Oh dear, dear dear. Have another luck. Looks to me–dare I say it–that he’s had a little bite at Chiellini.,” and Champion responded with “Surely not again. Surely… not again.”
Like Champion and Robson, I’m shocked, angry, confused and disappointed. Most of all though, I’m weary of what the future holds for both Suárez and this Uruguay team. Another biting incident? Are you f*cking kidding me?? Can’t you just punch someone in the face like they did in the Battle of Santiago during the 1962 World Cup? All we can do, as supporters of our club, is wait and see what FIFA does in response to this incident. I find it pretty ridiculous that Suárez wasn’t kicked out of the game, even though photos (assuming they weren’t doctored) showed teeth marks on Chiellini’s shoulder, and he was screaming for the entire world to look at them. Sure, Chiellini is generally considered a bit of a punk, and I’m sure he wasn’t innocent in all of this, but you don’t bite people. There’s no excuse for that.
When asked about the incident after the game, Suárez gave the following response:
“These are just things that happen out on the pitch. It was just the two of us inside the area and he bumped into me with his shoulder, and that’s how my eye got like this as well. There are things that happen on the pitch and you should not make such a big deal out of them.”a
Suárez might be able to claim that he was headbutting Chiellini and not biting him, but there’s no chance he didn’t initiate the contact between himself and the Italian defender; even a FIFA on-field official could have seen that. That being said, he’s trying to not get suspended, so he was bound to deny, or deflect attention away from, the incident.
FIFA can, and probably should, step in where the on-field officials went wrong. As much as I love my team and my country, Suárez has no business being on the field for the rest of this tournament. I know his absence likely means the end of Uruguay’s chances of making a deep run in this tournament–especialy since they play Colombia next–but how can he be allowed to play on? It pains me to say it, but if it were anybody else, I’d be writing the same thing. He needs professional help.
Anyway, as you can see above, while we were all still reeling from the biting incident, Diego Godín, who really has been Johnny on the Spot lately (he won the La Liga title for Atlético Madrid with a header, and then headed in the first goal in Atlético Madrid’s 4-1 loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League final), headed (ok… shouldered) a corner kick–a beautiful ball from Gastón Ramírez of Southampton–past the diving Gianluigi Buffon, and sent Uruguay into the round of 16 for the second World Cup in a row. Even though my guys had just snatched victory from the jaws of defeat (no pun intended), and come all the way back from their embarrassing loss to Costa Rica in the Group Stage opener, my celebration was pretty subdued. I couldn’t stop thinking about Suárez.
We’ll know soon enough what punishment FIFA deems appropriate for “The Cannibal of Ajax,” as Suárez was nicknamed after his first biting incident while playing for AFC Ajax of the Dutch league in 2010. In all likelyhood, unless FIFA decides that ratings and money are more important than morality and fair play (we all know how much FIFA hates money), Suárez will not be available for the next round match up against Colombia. As I said, that probably means a trip back to Montevideo for La Celeste.
I’ll have more information once the dust settles. For now, I guess I’ll just be happy I get to watch my boys, with our without Súarez, play at least one more game in what has been a pretty crazy World Cup so far.
Featured image courtesy of: Getty Images
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