Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Three Bites and You're In?

Whoops, Uruguayan Luis Suarez has done it again. In a win or go out game for Uruguay against three time World Cup winners Italy, with time running out, Suarez put his head into Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in the box and then, inexplicably, bit him in the shoulder. It is an insane moment that reminds of the infamous Tyson bite of Evander Hollyfield’s ear. Actually, it reminds us of the two other times this exceptionally talented players has bitten an opponent, first during his time at Ajax and then against Chelsea defender Ivanovic. The first led to a 7-game suspension and the second a 10-game variety in the EPL, sandwiched around a third 8-game suspension for racial abuse.  

Yet this might be the most consequential of all the incidents. Suarez is already famous for a handball on the line as time was running out against Ghana four years ago, leading to a missed penalty and Uruguay advancing to the semis in the end. Now his bite occurred one minute before the header that won the game for Uruguay in the 81st minute – arguably affecting Italy’s top defender on the corner that cost Italy advancement.

Suarez is an incredible talent, single-handedly beating England in the second group game to give the South Americans a chance. But his lack of character in key moments now must be called into question. He had a relatively controversy-free year for Liverpool, almost leading them to the title after finishing his ban, and led the EPL in goals (winning Player of the Year honors). But it is clear that he cannot control himself. In my opinion, he should play no further part in the World Cup and serious questions have to be asked about his future (of course they won’t be). But in the end, Uruguay advance on a questionable red card and then lack of action on the Suarez incident. Italy will be apoplectic, but the world should be as well.

I suppose in a world where it’s getting harder to even find heroes who might eventually let us down, it’s little surprise that few athletes fit the bill. But players like Suarez, who make a fortune playing a game they love, after growing up poor – it’s too bad they can’t set a better example to a future generation that could really use some positive role models. 

No comments: