Morals over passion for football? No way
I have to admit that I have been shocked by many of the responses and reactions to Luis Suarez’s 10-match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. But not surprised.
The whole situation is quite funny, when you isolate it for what it is. But what is more funny is the way many pundits, fans and ex-players have articulated their disapproval of the punishment.
You know when people say, “I don’t mean to be rude …”, that what follows is going to be rude. An identical thing has happened this week. Phone-ins have been rife with many Liverpool fans wanting to defend their man and 90 per cent of the time, they began with, “I’m not defending what Suarez did ….”, and then proceed to do just that. I was in stitches with laugher.
But I must admit that as obvious as it might sound, I have finally come round to the fact that there are no morals in football. Outrage after seeing what Suarez did soon turned to acceptance that, as bad as this sounds, it just happens – and an even sadder thought, it will happen again.
At the end of the day while players like Suarez are the commodities they are, there will always be fans and governing bodies who will not want to run him out of the league and game.
I was infuriated when Liverpool fans not only defended Luis Suarez in the race row with Patrice Evra, but actually blamed the Frenchman. And they now have the cheek to support him after he bites, yes bites, a person.
Let me ask this: if he bit a supporter in the stands, would they back him then? No, they would not. So what is the difference? But of course they will back him because to your die-hard supporters, your football club is everything and the passion they have for their team will always surpass that of any moral code to humanity.
Liverpool fans have accused the press of a witch-hunt. Well, two things: four of the six papers I read the day after he was issued with the ban felt it was harsh. Secondly, let us say their young full back Martin Kelly or sub keeper Brad Jones had bitten the Serbian, would Liverpool feel as strongly about this then? No. So, they are actually making a big deal of it because it is Luis Suarez.
I will give you an example of how some ex-players have totally misunderstood what the issue is. Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has come out this week and said the Uruguayan should be “helped” rather than “hounded out”, and I genuinely believe he is echoing the thoughts of many connected with Liverpool and that is scary.
To put it into some kind of context, the most high-profile case of a sportsman biting another was Mike Tyson, who bit off a chunk of Evander Holyfield’s ear in their rematch fight in 1997. Tyson was banned for a year from the sport and fined $3m.
Many have said that they do not have an issue with the punishment per se, but with the logic and consistency of it. You abuse someone for the colour of their skin and get a four-eight game ban. You can break someone’s leg and get a three- game ban.
But if you bite someone, you get 10 games. Shock horror! Well, I see where those people are coming from, but it is still a futile argument, because you are comparing apples and oranges.
Luis Suarez should be punished for the offence he committed (and previously he has). Let us deal with that. After we can dissect the wider picture of which sentence goes with which offence.
Missing the point
Robbie Savage and Jamie Carragher saying they would rather be bitten than have their leg broken is laughable. These guys are totally missing the point. It is like saying, would you rather be beaten up or burgled? Neither has to happen, so it is a redundant point.
It is almost impossible to compare the occupational rights and wrongs of being a footballer to that of a normal job (“If I bit someone at my workplace…” is another common thing that is said).
But one thing is for sure. This sport has few morals, so while this incident is a lot more serious than many suggest, do not be surprised when players are defended or exempt from an adequate punishment. Because I no longer am.