This appears on the Monday, June 30, 2014 edition of the Business Mirror.
The morning after Suarez
by rick olivares pic by getty
The great ones can be infuriating. It seems that with genius comes a certain appetite for self-destruction and in doing so leaving many hurt in their wake. For one to be great, it seems there must be the requisite flaw or chip on their shoulder. Why else can people like John Lennon write pop gems of timeless beauty? Why can Babe Ruth consume a bathtub of booze and crush a baseball into the stands like it was an annoyance?
And there’s Luis Suarez who is a world-class football talent whose footwork if I may dare matches the great Ronaldinho and catches defenders flatfooted.
Luis Suarez began the 2013-14 football season on the shelf for biting Branislav Ivanovic. And now, he ends it on shelf once more only this time for biting Giorgio Chiellini.
In another case of awful symmetry, he wasn’t there when Liverpool needed him at the starts and he certainly wasn’t there when Uruguay needed him at the end of their World Cup campaign.
That Suarez is a habitual and repeat offender leaves a lot of people devastated. For sure, he is coveted for his ability to score goals. And to a fault that’s because he can help a side win. However, there comes the warranty for the trouble he brings – suspensions and controversial incidents.
And it is sad.
What he brings to the table for La Celeste is indisputable. Without him in their first match, Uruguay lost to Costa Rica, 3-1. With him in their sky blue kits, they defeated England, 2-1, and Italy, 1-0. Against Colombia in the Round of 16, the fell, 2-nil, with his suspension obviously a huge factor in the match.
For the supporters of Liverpool, he is the Premier League’s reigning player of the year. They came very very close to winning their first Premier League title with Suarez scoring 31 goals total.
His denial of the biting incident is both appalling and disappointing. Maybe if this was the first time that it happened but no. This is the third. With regards to the Chiellini incident, he said that he lost his balance. He sounds like that mother who apologizes for her kid running into the doorknob.
Instead of being remorseful, he, along with his compatriots blame England and Italy for conspiring against him. He conveniently forgets that he brought all this upon himself and no one else did anything.
Here is a man who is only loyal to himself and the riches that the sport rewards her goal-scoring sons. He forced a transfer from Groningen to Ajax and when the opportunity presented itself, to Liverpool. And after seemingly worn out his welcome, he hoped to latch on to either Barcelona or Real Madrid.
He forgets that instead of fair play it’s fair game. At whatever the cost to country and club.
He is like Italy’s Mario Balotelli, insanely talented but a ticking time bomb – ready to sink his own side just as he would an opposing team.
A return now to Liverpool let alone England is not only awkward but also potentially dangerous. Some of the club’s legends including former teammate Jaime Carragher have called him out. For sure, opposing fans will not let him off the hook and taunt him mercilessly. Not only will he continue to be a nightmare for opposing defenders and goalkeepers but he will also continue to be a public relations nightmare for Liverpool.
Uruguay too will have pick up the pieces of a shattered World Cup dream. In South Africa in 2010, they were the surprise of the tournament. But even their march deep into the tournament was tainted by a handball (but the true blame should be laid at the feet of Asamoah Gyan who missed his penalty). In Brazil, they weren’t taking anyone by surprise. And what was supposed to be a huge victory (already tainted by the controversial sending off of Claudio Marchisio leaving the Azzurri with 10 men on the pitch) over Italy felt like a loss in the aftermath.
Furthermore, Suarez’ coach and teammates (not to mention his countrymen) defended his actions and scored FIFA for what they perceive to be a conspiracy (they forget that Marchisio was sent off that helped their side win the match).
He’s the Barry Bonds of football, loathed everywhere else but cheered in San Francisco.
But even that support is bound to wane if he doesn’t show remorse or even makes up for his actions. More so when people wake up to the fact that in their last wins in the last two World Cups were tainted by a Suarez infraction (that made him ineligible to play in their next fixture that they ultimately lost).
Waking up from denial can both be liberating and painful.