Enough is enough, ban Suarez for as long as possible

In its 74-year history, the World Cup has seen its fair share of debatable, even despicable, figures.

From allegations of doping surrounding West Germany’s triumph in 1954, to the battle of Santiago in 1962 when Chilean and Italian resorted to kick the bejesus out of each other, the political regime that aided Argentina’s success 16 years later, controversy has never been far away.

Up until yesterday, Luis Suarez occupied a rather large category comprising players who have both thrilled and horrified in equal measure on the biggest stage of them all.

Diego Maradona’s triumph will forever be remembered alongside his “Hand of God”, Zinedine Zidane’s brace in the 1998 final can’t be spoken about without pointing out his red card eight years later and even Cameroon surprise run to the quarter finals in 1990 is often mentioned alongside Benjamin Massing’s assault on Claudio Caniggia.

Four years on since getting himself sent off for deliberately blocking a goal-bound shot in the dying stages of the 2010 quarter final against Ghana – a selfless act of bravery, or that of a serial cheat, depending on your moral values – Suarez looked to have taken a sizeable step towards rehabilitating his name with a brace against England.

There he was, a man who had undergone a knee surgery four weeks before the start of the tournament, returning to give his side a chance of qualification, while all but knocking out the country in which he earns his living.

It seemed natural, inevitable even, that Suarez would complete his redemption against England, four years on from when he first branded a villain in the eyes of the world.

Since that red card against Ghana, the Uruguayan had served bans for racially abusing Patrice Evra – an offence he’s constantly denied – and biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic but, as a resurgent Liverpool fell just short of the title last season, the eyes of the media focused on the “new” Luis Suarez.

He was no longer public enemy number one, rather a man who had learnt to control himself and whose talent had elevated him just behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi among the world’s best players.

Yes, he had sinned, but he had worked hard to put that behind and he was simply a wonderful footballer the country ought to celebrate, as journalists and fellow professionals did when they named him PFA Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Player of the Year.

Except that, as Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder and millions of viewers around the world witnessed yesterday, Suarez hasn’t changed one bit and, in fact, he will probably never change.

Biting a fellow human being, let alone a fellow professional, is a disgraceful thing to do once but to do it three times shows beyond any doubts or agendas – perceived or otherwise – that for all his footballing brilliance, Suarez’s a vile, despicable human being.

Oliver Holt and Stan Collymore called for a lengthy ban, yet one that should not focus on demonising the man, who’s clearly in need of psychological help, but how can fans choose not loathe the Uruguayan when his actions on Tuesday were of such gravity that, perhaps, even Liverpool fans have now run out excuses for him?

How can a serial, unrepentant, offender being taken seriously, regardless of his supreme talent?

And how, perhaps even more importantly, can we take seriously the Uruguayan players and manager and those who still stubbornly defend Suarez, masquerading their personal interest behind the need to show support for a man who, they claim, is the victim of a witch hunt?

Luis Suarez might well need help to overcome whichever issues he might have but that will have to wait, for a long, harsh, ban must surely be delivered now.

If that means seeing one of the great football talents on this day and age go to waste, then so be it. The destination, after all, might not always justify the trip.

This entry was posted in 2014 World Cup Qualifiers, Controversy in Football. Bookmark the permalink.
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