Luis Suarez incident another step towards death of sportsmanship
Uruguay's national soccer team player Luis Suarez arrives at a news conference prior a training session at the Dunas Arena soccer stadium in Natal, June 23, 2014. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)
There are a number of things more troublesome in the case of man-bites-man than Luis Suarez’s mandible attack on an Italian player.
The simplistic thing is to focus on what the player did, ask for a long suspension from the game, and go back to watching grown men kick a ball, kick each other, perform dirties on each other’s bodies and say it’s part of the game.
The easy thing is to do is what soccer’s governing bodies have done in the past with Suarez after he’d bitten opponents.
Suarez, then playing for Ajax, was banned for seven matches by the Netherlands football federation in 2010 after biting PSV Eindhoven player Otman Bakkal in a league match.
After moving to Liverpool, he bit Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in 2013 and was banned for 10 games.
After taking a sample of Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder in a game between Uruguay and Italy Tuesday, Suarez is being investigated by FIFA and should rightfully be suspended for an extended period of time.
The correct thing to do, of course, would be to get Suarez some help because there is little doubt that a man who has bitten men three times during athletic competitions has disengaged from the acceptable moral and social confines within which a game should be played.
Or maybe he hasn’t?
Maybe soccer has descended into some kind of abyss, where whatever needs to be done to win is acceptable.
Perhaps Suarez is merely operating to a standard -- a much darker standard -- accepted by far too many involved in the game.
Is there a heinous scale out there that weighs just how bad biting an opponent is in comparison to, let’s say, trying to take an opponent’s knee out or spitting at an opponent?
There is the argument that biting is horrible, but don’t be too horrified because there are a sorts of horrible things happening all the time in the sport.
It may not be biting. It could be stepping on people away from the play, holding and grabbing.
When you put it that way, biting seems just a step beyond kicking a guy in the ankle.
Perhaps most troublesome of all are comments being made by Uruguayans.
The Uruguay media might as well be paid by the Uruguay football association. Their defence of Suarez was no defence at all, beyond attacking the British media for attacking Suarez.
The newspaper went all the way to 1966 and accused England of cheating to win the World Cup because a goal in the final against Germany should never have counted. What that has to do with anything is beyond thought.
Then there are the Uruguay players.
Despite obvious video and puncture wound evidence, Uruguay captain Diego Lugano questioned whether the incident happened and then proceeded to blame Chiellini for even bringing it up.
Some said what was on Chiellini’s shoulder was a mole.
“Did you see it today or did you see what happened in other years? You couldn't have seen it today because nothing happened,” Lugano said.
“What I saw was a struggle and a photo of Chiellini which showed an old scar.
“You have to be stupid to imagine that scar is recent, very stupid.
“The worst of everything is the attitude of Chiellini . . . sportsmen leaving the field, crying and appealing against a rival.
“As a man, he disappointed me totally.”
But he’s not disappointed by a teammate who has bitten three players during games. Now, that’s a real man.
Suarez himself minimized his actions by stating that whatever happens on the pitch is acceptable.
“These are things that happen on the pitch and we don’t have to give them so much importance,” he said.
The ridiculous comments by supposed sportsmen, and some in the media, is clearly an acceptance that it is fine to do whatever one wants to do on the field in an effort to win because it happens all the time.
This time around it’s Uruguay, but no team is clean enough to throw stones.
They all cheat.
Players fake injury, fake fouls and think it’s brilliant when they get away with one.
Suarez should be suspended for a long time.
But his actions -- and perhaps more revealing, the response to his actions by so many -- speaks to the death of sportsmanship and just how large a part of the game deceit and degradation has become.
'WE'RE GOING TO USE ALL THE ARGUMENTS POSSIBLE'
The Uruguay football association is standing behind Luis Suarez after an incident in which he is being accused of biting Italian player Giorgio Chiellini.
The incident happened Tuesday in a game between Italy and Uruguay that Uruguay won, eliminating the Italians.
FIFA is investigating the incident that was caught on television.
Chiellini showed what looked like bite marks on his shoulder immediately after the encounter.
Alejandro Balbi, Suarez’s lawyer, also got into the act issuing a statement. He claimed his client was unfairly targeted.
“We don’t have any doubts that this has happened because it’s Suárez involved and secondly because Italy have been eliminated,” he told a Uruguayan radio station.
"There’s a lot of pressure from England and Italy. There is a possibility that they ban him, because there are precedents, but we are convinced that it was an absolutely casual play, because if Chiellini can show a scratch on one shoulder, Suárez can show a bruised and an almost closed eye."
The Uruguayan FA claim images of bite marks on Chiellini’s shoulder had been altered to make them appear worse than they were.
“If every player starts showing the injuries he suffers and they open inquiries for them everything will be way too complicated in the future,” Balbi said. “We’re going to use all the arguments possible so that Luis gets out in the best possible way.
“You shouldn’t forget that we’re rivals of many and we can be for the hosts (Brazil) in the future. This does not go against what might have happened but there’s no doubt that Suárez is a stone in the shoe for many.”
The Uruguayan FA president, Wilmar Valdez, told local media the proof against Suárez is not “convincing.”
The FIFA committee hopes to get the situation sorted out quickly since Uruguay plays Colombia on Saturday.
Is sportsmanship dead in soccer?