In the wake of the decision to ban Luis Suarez from both the 2014 World Cup and also domestic play with Liverpool FC, fans must be left wondering. I know I am.
As an ardent Liverpool FC supporter, I was horrified at his behavior in biting Branislav Ivanovic. It was during that media coverage, I learned of a prior incident with similar overtones while Suarez played with Ajax (in the Netherlands). On reflection, I thought Liverpool handled themselves and Suarez quite well during the Ivanovic incident. There was a humbling and contrite apology from the man himself. The team seemed to unify behind the striker, removing any speculation about an internal fracturing or loss of team unity. Brendan Rogers also managed the attempted departure of Suarez from LFC with a deft hand, a whispered word, and the reassurance all would be well. The results were significant. Liverpool’s 2013/2014 season was one for the ages. After the Ivanovic suspension was over, Suarez returned with intense and magnificent play, not only leading Liverpool to champion’s league qualification, but also a near league title. Suarez also received many accolades and awards for his excellent on- and off-field endeavors. It seems the world of football wanted to forgive and forgot; wanted to offer a salve of redemption which Suarez heartily accepted. History forgotten, Suarez had taken his place among the world’s elite. The stars had aligned with magnificent precision and all seemed right with the world but little did we know the 2014 world cup would change all that.
Suarez left the delicate bubble built around his successes at Melwood (Liverpool’s HQ) and went off to the grand stage of international play. After almost single-handedly removing England from the world cup, Suarez appeared to lose his mind and allegedly bit Giorgio Chiellini while playing against Italy in group play game three. Reactions have been mixed but mostly negative. And FIFA clearly concurred by handing down one of the most draconian punishments in their history. Booted from the world cup, Suarez must also now face his Liverpool teammates and fans while enduring a four-month suspension from all football related activities. Unfortunately, Suarez appears to have lost the plot and, minus the calming hand of Liverpool management, has shrugged off his behavior claiming he “lost his balance” and also claimed the pushing and shoving is the box is a rough part of the game and par for the course. So, what should fans and casual observers make of all this?
Sure, there is the typical raging response, which includes a dose of bitter, a slab of outrage, mixed with a dash of shame. But that doesn’t get to the heart of the issue. The other end of the spectrum is also frustrating because a myopic, ignoring the behavior and focusing on the pure talent and genius of the the striker, seems absurdly utopian. Truth be told, the appropriate reaction (if that is even accurate) probably lies somewhere in between.
On a personal level, I’m grasping for a hold on the moment. Much like a bar of soap in the tub, it continues to elude my best efforts to nail it down. Some claim Suarez intentionally bites, due to anger, uncontrolled rage, as he nears insanity with clouded judgment. I don’t see that. Nor do I believe there is a mental health issue causing odd events of uncontrolled, reactionary behavior. Based on all his other seemingly appropriate and quite stellar conduct, it appears highly unlikely all his negative behavior only boils to the surface with biting opponents. The answer lies somewhere else.
The most compelling opinion popped to the surface a day ago where a doctor (his name eludes me) believes the biting is something akin to behavior exhibited by an exceptionally high-functioning autistic. Interesting. Ponder that for a moment. The biting appears to arise during intense frustration, manifesting in an instant lunging attack. Suarez is literally a savant on the pitch, making incredible shots and thinking differently. His imagination, precision, and ability to strike from any angle is a thing of wonder. It seems to makes sense this world class player is being impacted by the less than desirable characteristics from the fabric of his very makeup. Characteristics which unfortunately, are deeply rooted and only evident in extreme situation. One must only remember the sobbing Suarez to understand there is something else in play here.
Of course, if people believed this, then it gives Luis Suarez an out, a crack of light, a defensible position. Perhaps my love for Liverpool has clouded the truth. So, then the opinion falls to you. Rage biting? Insane biting? No, there is something much deeper going on here and I can only hope time and attention to work on his issues will remedy what can only be a living hell for Luis Suarez and his family right now. And FIFA preventing Suarez from all football related activities has the unintended consequences of potentially preventing him from seeking the very help he needs. Clearly, his hasn’t been FIFA’s most shining moment.