Sport Comment: Futile to rail against Suarez and football

John Inverdale
FOR ALL the great football, dramatic penalty shoot-outs and spectacular skills on offer, Luis Suarez’s teeth have blighted this World Cup, and yet it’s hard to write anything rational about them without sounding like some ridiculous reactionary or ludicrous libertarian.

That he is an outstanding player is undeniable. That he is a flawed human being, clearly unable to equate his actions with their possible repercussions is equally irrefutable. That football as a sport is either incapable or unwilling to deal with such individuals when they misbehave is even more beyond question.

All common sense says that Suarez should be banned for a considerable period of time, not a derisory few weeks. He has serious and serial previous. The use of racial remarks towards Manchester United’s Patrice Evra was a three-month start point, the bite on Branislav Ivanovic should have taken it to a year, and his latest snack on the field of play takes us into the realms of a two-year absence from the sport.

Trying to find any justifiable reason not to be so draconian requires myopia of Uruguayan or Liverpudlian proportions. Lest we forget, boxer Mike Tyson was banned for life for nibbling Evander Holyfield’s ear, although that penalty was later reduced.

And yet. And yet. We’re talking about a sport whose governance is littered with claims of scandal and skulduggery; a sport that openly condones cheating on the field by describing it as “simulation”; a sport that is incapable of looking at itself as others might view it, consumed by its own arrogance and self-importance; a sport full of clubs who will fall over themselves to buy such damaged goods if Liverpool ever chose to look beyond self-interest and let him go.

So in the end, you have to just accept the status quo, because to attempt to occupy any kind of moral high ground is impossible. A multi-million pound asset can, whether for club or country, do whatever he likes to whoever he likes, without fear of any kind of logical sanction. Which means for the next two weeks, banish all thoughts of righteous indignation and just enjoy the circus. Because there really is no alternative.

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