Suarez’s 10 game suspension shows a real lack of awareness of what the game of football is for.

The number ten. tens machine for pain

It is a number in football that evokes wonderful visions in the mind of the likes of Pele, Maradona, Bergkamp, Totti and Messi doing something with a ball millions could only dream of doing.

As they ran themselves past defenders and into our living rooms there stood the number on their backs standing out as bright as can be, a sure sign that their genius was labelled correctly.

Oh how beautiful number ten is to football fans.

Unfortunately for the number it exploded negatively into headlines everywhere today across the world when Luis Suarez was given a ten game ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic during Sunday’s Premier League match at Anfield.

Such a high number, of course, led to many discussions playing out on twitter, talk radio and in offices around the globe with the majority seemingly agreeing that the suspension was fair.

“What else could the FA have done? They would have looked ridiculous if they had given less than seven. He got seven games for biting in Holland, is a repeat offender, was banned eight games for racially abusing Patrice Evra, didn’t learn his lesson by shaking his hand. Ten games is lenient,” preached Talksport’s drive time host Adrian Durham.

It seemed to be a common argument.

“I agree, he has to be taught a lesson,” said his co-host Darren Gough.

However, is it really the Football Association’s job to teach Suarez a lesson? And does handing him 10 games to watch from the stands stop him from doing something he shouldn’t do next time when eight last year did not?

Furthermore is it not in the interest of the FA to keep Suarez in the Premier League? I do not expect them to have noticed the alarmingly lack of true world class players now in their league but, surely, even the suits will know the benefit of having the Uruguayan representing their league each weekend?

A lengthy, intelligent discussion with one of their finest clubs, in Liverpool, would have revealed to them the precarious situation the Reds currently stand. Suarez is clearly playing at a level with his club that doesn’t match his talent and with another year without sitting at the top table of European football’s elite competition looming it was clear the summer months would be very challenging for Ian Ayre, Brendan Rodgers and the Fenway Sports Group to keep their prize asset.

The lengthy ban does nothing to keep Suarez happy with the country he is working in and gives him more reasons to slip back into the ‘them against me’ mentality that he so often displays while on a football field.

This was not Lewis Swares, an average footballer the world had never heard of because he wasn’t very good. This is a star footballer who the Premier League are fortunate to have at the moment and the hearing should have recognised that and come down with a number slightly lower that would have satisfied all involved, not a number that is sure to drag the situation on now with an appeal. Special consideration for premium talent happens in every workplace for a reason, the person in question is always very valuable to those who he represents and the FA have been naive in not thinking that way.

There have been many reports written in the past few days siting an ‘embarrassing situation’ for the branding of Premier League and Liverpool Football Club when nothing could be further from the truth. The Premier League is in the entertainment business and this publicity has done them no harm whatsoever.

The fact that a three-person independent regulatory commission today sat around a room and threw a 10 game suspension towards one of its finest players for a bite is not only misguided but also, perhaps more seriously, shows a real lack of awareness of what the game of football is for.

Football is about entertainment. Millions of people go to work miserable Monday to Friday in England and one of the main things that keeps them going all week is the allure of the football match on Saturday. A chance to watch their beloved team and some of the finest players in the game perform magic tricks with a ball. Today’s ruling denies Liverpool football fans a chance at that until, at least,  late September and quite possibly much longer.

Suarez was rightfully dubbed this week ‘a world class player and a world class problem’ and of course he has let down the entire city and should have been banned but lengthy suspensions in football are doing nobody any favours.

A suspension is supposed to be a severe punishment that represents the crime committed, to prevent you from doing it again but the game is now making a laughing stock out of itself against this notion. Suspensions are thrown out so often that the purpose of them in the first place has been lost. Three yellow cards gained in the Champions League season through to the semi finals and you are banned. A three game ban for mistiming a tackle for a split second in the Premier League and it is ‘violent conduct’, get another red and you miss another four games.

Today’s ruling ensures the 26-year-old, if he stays in England, will miss a quarter of a season when you consider at least two domestic cup ties plus 38 league matches. This is the equivalent of around 20 games in the NHL or NBA, 40 games in Major League Baseball, five races in Formula One and ten PGA tour events. Excessive to say the least.

Many of these sports have handed out lengthy suspensions in the past when sportsmen in question have done very serious acts such as break the law and take performance-enhancing drugs, deliberately cause accidents in a car, use a hockey stick to hit an opponent in the head or run into the crowd and fight with fans.

In fact football itself has rightfully done the same to players for despicable acts such as kicking fans, pushing referees or punching opponents in the face but it now adds an act that caused absolutely no harm to an opponent. A pathetically disgusting act, no doubt, but one hardly worth removing one of the game’s greatest entertainers for 25% of its season.

Suarez may have hurt Ivanovic for a split second but the FA’s ruling will hurt their consumers and their prospects of keeping such a talent for much longer.

16 comments on “Suarez’s 10 game suspension shows a real lack of awareness of what the game of football is for.

  1. Kristian, you have a coworker that’s great at their job and churns out some truly inspired writing. This coworker then bites a fellow colleague in the office. Whether or not the biter breaks skin, you’re telling me that sending him home for ten working days is too heavy a punishment? People in the real world are lucky to stay out of court for something like that.

    Sport doesn’t excuse egregious acts against your fellow man. Well, maybe it has, but it should shouldn’t.

    The problem is a lack of consistency – I argue 7-10 game bans should be the minimum for acts such as racial abuse and assault. You can’t play favourites with the people who aren’t showing the league respect.

    • Sporting governing bodies have played favourites forever and will continue to do so. 10 days for a co worker is hardly the same as 10 games for a footballer. You are denying him his craft for 25 per cent of the year. And you are denying his fans the chance to see it.

      • Not to invoke the whole societal crime and punishment as a deterrent argument because it doesn’t necessarily apply.

        …But putting the fear of losing 25% of your income might be a sensible way or deterring someone from being racist or biting in sport. THAT should leave the game for good.

        He didn’t necessarily hurt him, but come on. He bit a guy. Again.

        The whole structure of bans and fines is obviously to be ridiculed, but setting it right needs to start somewhere… (and then likely take a step back next time something like this happens…)

  2. KJ,

    This is a piss take, isn’t it. There’s nothing newsy about saying what everyone else is saying, so why not play the devil’s advocate…

    Otherwise, I’m really surprised, after hearing enough rants that the FA is scared of guys like Fergie, that you’d turn around and call for double-standard discipline. Over the years you’ve also expressed disgust with the mercenary use of increased player power, but you want the FA to consider the flight risk of the offender when determining penalties.

    I also think you’re putting together a bit of a straw man argument when you lump what Suarez did with a third card in 10 Champs league games as evidence that suspensions are flawed. Some definitely are, but this one definitely is not.

    It is the FA’s job to discipline the player, if for no other reason than the club clearly won’t. No question this will put a nail in the Liverpool / Suarez coffin, but that also speaks to the character of the player in question. His persecution complex has been fed by Liverpool; if it blows up in their faces, they really have themselves to blame. If player doesn’t learn from past mistakes and continues to discredit the game after receiving significant penalties, that’s a flaw with the man, not the system.

    In 1988, Eric Cantona was given a 3 month suspension by the FFF for a nasty tackle. It was rescinded to 2 months because club and player threatened to refuse calls to the National team. Pretty safe to say condoning his behaviour did absolutely zero good for club, country or player.

    When Cantona lost another 9 months later on, Manchester United handled a much more drastic situation, much better. They got ahead of the FA and banned him themselves; they quietly kept negotiations with him open during that time (key word; QUIETLY) and the respect he holds for Fergie to this day illustrates that the entire episode, while both regrettable and avoidable, had the desired effect. He received only one yellow card the year he returned from the 9 month exile, and no more red cards.

    In truth, there’s an excellent chance Suarez is leaving Anfield anyway. He’s more than subtly hinted that he’d prefer Champs League football than be the type of player to pull Liverpool up by its bootstraps. He might turn around and claim that he was chased out of England when he goes, but in the parlance of a show I watched a few times now and again, I’m not ‘avin it.

    BTW: I’d also disagree with “there’s no such thing as bad news”; that the newsworthiness of the event trumps the negativity of the act. Personally, I’ve been taking it in the neck all week from people who don’t respect footy that this is more of that crap that that drives them crazy and “won’t let them take the game seriously”; the diving, the faking, now biting – all doing a great job of adding fodder to the cannons.

    Classic quick question for this situation: If Fabian Delph does the exact same thing this weekend and gets a dozen game ban for his efforts, will you be disappointed that he’s received a more draconian punishment, or would you consider that proof that perhaps the FA *did* show some star power leniency toward Suarez?

    • Hey mate thanks for your comment

      No it is not a ‘piss take’.

      It is not a straw man’s argument, it was used as another fact that suspensions are flawed in the game. Your point on his character is excellent and I certainly will not, nor have not, disputed that but this is hardly Liverpool’s fault. They are in a very delicate position to keep him happy. Leaning on past evidence regarding United and Cantona is convenient for you as it is your team but it really is like comparing apples to oranges. United’s status as a club then is very different to that of Liverpool today.

      Cantona is also very different to Suarez. His maturity under Ferguson says a lot more about him than the club. You see him today and how well spoken he is and how he is such a deep, philosophical thinker about life and you can see he had this in him all along. Suarez does not, he is a footballer who came from a poor background who had to fight for survival. This does not condone his actions at all but just states how he is very different to Cantona and will always be.

      Regarding Delph, I think you should know by now that I would be appalled at any player getting such a lengthy ban for that.

      Cheers.

      KJ

  3. Kristian, I’m disappointed in your position on this case. The only point worth discussing is whether bitting is worse than spitting. “Bringing the game into disrepute” used to be concept in the rulebook – don’t know if still is, but the principle applies here. Failure to give Suarez a significant punishment – i.e., more than the ban for the first identical offense in Holland – would bring the game and the league into disrepute. This is a far worse than removing a star player from the league fixture list for a few games. It’s the integrity of the league that counts, not whether an individual striker plays or not.

      • Nope. I don’t buy it. Certainly football is about entertainment. But the entertainment value is tied up with the game’s standards, presentation and history. Substract from any or all of those factors and the value declines, sometimes irreversibly. That is what the FA should be concerned with. Using your argument, one could say that cheating should received only a passing punishment because we all know that betting is a entertaining part of the game. Ergo cracking down on cheating might spoil the fun of placing a bet.
        I agree that the integrity of the game has taken a beating, especially with the advent of obscene salaries and profits. Might be that we’re all delusional and misguided when it comes to following the game, any game, with passion. Probably is, now that I think of it. But, if so, then part of the value is assuming that standards exist and are maintained. Bitting an opponent once is bad enough; twice is unacceptable; and a serious, ten-game ban is appropriate.

  4. Alright ‘KJ’ mate, it’s your favourite ‘troll’ here. I’m stuck here for another week or two so you and that Sharman fellar are my only influx of “soccer,” and I just happened to stumble across this blog on my timeline (which has thankfully now relieved itself of your groupies). I’m not here for a troll this time around, but I am going to disagree with you on this Suarez thing. The question is, if I was to approach you in the street and bite you, would that not warrant an arrest? Is that not assault?
    You can’t bite people in any form of life, the same as you can’t call someone a “negrito” and get away with it. Bottom line is, these are criminal offences, that if he committed in public he would be lawfully punished. Of course there’s no denying the lad’s talent, and as much as it pains me to say he is entertaining as a footballer, but you can’t get away with these things just because you play football and you’re doing it in a stadium of 40,000+ people, rather than outside a bar/nightclub where these incidents usually take place.
    Suarez was already running a fine line, and he has let a lot of people down with his actions this weekend, it would be surprising to see him put on a Liverpool shirt again.

    • Good to hear from you Adam! Certainly better this way than the mini storm you created on twitter last time. I understand your point of view about assault but 1) we must look at many examples in sport where this could be the case and simply havent been dealt in that manner 2) If you ran up to me and bit me I really do not think it would warrant an arrest. Maybe a punch in the face :)

  5. I think there’s a case to be made for bias against Suarez at this point, to be honest. I mean, let’s look at two comparables:

    Racism:
    John Terry, with evidence, gets 4 games.
    Luis Suarez, with no evidence (beyond he said, she said), gets 8 games.

    Biting:
    Jermaine Defoe gets a yellow card, 0 games.
    Luis Suarez gets no card, 10 games.

    I’m not saying there is a bias, but the case can easily be made. -shrug-

    • No evidence for Suarez? There was tape and Suarez admitted what he said. Silly comparison. Terry was the one who denied he said anything.

      • There wasn’t any video tape of him using any racial language at all. He wasn’t suspended for using the word “Negro” once at the sideline(not in the box) in a non-degrading context, which is what he admitted. He was suspended for using it in a very derogatory context 7 times (during the corner kick in the box) in a conversation that no one else heard, and again NO VIDEO EVIDENCE exits. Actually Evra’s initial claim was that he called him the N-word 10 times in the box during the corner kick.When when Suarez said he referred to him as “Negro” once he changed his story. Please don’t pull the he’s in England he can’t use that language argument, because Evra initiated all conversations in Spanish, and his accusations were that he used it in very degrading context. Even when I post this I know that many people can’t understand the word in Spanish has no relation to slavery and isn’t insulting own it’s own it just means black, or dark. For example if someone said “Patrice Evra is black”. That shouldn’t be considered racist, but if someone said “I don’t like Patrice Evra, becuase he is black”, now that is racist, and should be punished very harshly, but there absolutely no evidence to suggest he said anything like that, and no other black player in Uruguay, Holland, or England came out and said that Suarez ever treated him unfairly. I’ve never seen an article where one of his current or ex-team mates speaks badly about him.

        The fact of the matter is that Liverpool wanted to appeal both cases which was well within their right considering the evidence, but were told not to because they had no chance to win the appeal and the sentence would be extended instead of reduced. That is undemocratic, and a road that English should really consider whether or not they want to walk down, just because they don’ like divers.

  6. Kevin Smith with the point of the day. Jermaine Defoe bit Javier Mascherano.
    It is worth repeating that he got no suspension.

    We finally have an English International to compare it to.

    There is no excuse for Suarez’s behaviour. None. It is just amplified because it’s Suarez. Last weekend a handball by Suarez is a yellow and a penalty. This week 3 handballs by Barcelona go unnoticed. An alleged racial slur in another language by Suarez is 8 games. In English it’s 4 games.

    It’s the Suarez effect.

  7. 7, 10 games… Not much of a difference in my opinion. Suarez is so talented but has no common sense and he has deserves whatever punishment is handed to him.

    • The fact it’s split over two seasons – the first half part of a damp squb of a campaign for Liverpool also means that only 5 of them really matter. That’s small consolation for LFC supporters, but I can’t help but think it came into consideration when establishing the penalty.

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