Soccer bully Suarez continues his legacy by biting opponent

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2013 - Yesterday afternoon around 11:00 Eastern Time, one of the more bizarre instances in professional sporting events occurred.

Lois Suarez, a Uruguayan soccer player, bit defender Branislov Ivanovic during a Premier League game.  Replays clearly show that this was more than an arm brushing an opponent’s teeth.  After going after the same ball, Suarez grabbed the arm of the defender, held it in both of his hands and deliberately chomped down like he was biting into a BBQ spare rib.

It is behavior expected from undisciplined toddlers, not adults.

Commentators quickly reported that Suarez has done this before.  In 2010 when playing for one of the top Dutch teams, he was banned for seven games after he had leaned over and bit a player on the collar bone during an argument.  In Amsterdam Suarez is still referred to as The Cannibal.

At only 26 years of age, Suarez has made a career out of poor public decisions.

Last year, Lois Suarez was involved in a different controversy for almost the entire playing season.  He was accused of racially abusing an opponent, Patrice Evra.  The Football Association (FA) opened an investigation to look into this matter.  Suarez’s team, Liverpool, supported their player during the investigation as he continued to deny the accusations.

The FA ended up fining Suarez the equivalent of about $65,000 and handed him an eight game ban.  Following the verdict, Liverpool continued to support their player.  In pre game warm ups the Liverpool players and coaches wore tee shirts with Lois Suarez’s picture on them.  The team stated that they were showing their support of their team mate and that they believed his defense.

Ten days later, the FA released their findings.  The 115 page report reviewed broadcast film clearly showing Suarez directing derogatory terms at Evra. Suarez’s defense was that he had meant these terms in a friendly way.  The FA had even gone as far as to consult with Spanish language experts to see if there was ever a time that these terms would be seen as friendly; the answer was that there was not. 

This was an ugly incident for a sporting organization who had been trying very hard to deal with a history of racism in its sport.  It also left Liverpool looking like it supported racist slander.

After his ban was served, Evra and Suarez were to meet again on the field.  A great deal was made before hand on how they would interact with each other and both players knew that all eyes would be on them.  At the start of each Premier League game there is a televised formal handshaking ceremony.  As Suarez approached Evra, Suarez dramatically refused to shake hands, even when Evra tried to force a handshake.

After the game, the Liverpool coach said that he had not seen the handshake but that he was sure that if there was any problem, it was not from Suarez. 

Since the snub was clearly visible on the broadcast, and it had already been replayed over and over, Liverpool once again felt a media backlash.

Then, as if the team hadn’t had to defend the undefendable enough, Suarez gave an interview in January 2013 where he said that he has intentionally fallen to the ground, “dove”, when playing other teams in order to get a penalty in his favor when no infraction had actually occurred. 

Lois Suarez is the kind of player American’s want to like regardless of the sport he plays.  He has a God given talent.  When actually playing, he is amazing to watch.  He is repeatedly named as one of the top five players in the world today. 

Suarez was born into poverty and used his talent to overcome that situation.  As an 11 year old, he was invited to attend a training camp but he had to say no because he was unable to afford a pair of soccer cleats. Yet in 2010, Suarez signed a deal that would earn him $35M over five years.  He also is married to his high school sweetheart.

Yet his behavior makes it difficult to like him.

The United States has certainly had its share of athletes behaving poorly.  Americans have lived through Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick and Tiger Woods just to name a few. Even though at the time it seems that the scandals will never end and that they will never recover, they always seem to.  As long as athletes perform well, we can forgive them a great deal.  We don’t watch them for their personal life.

Maybe there is something to what third string Ohio State quarterback Cadale Jones, said when he tweeted “why should we have to go to class if we came here to play football, we ain’t come to play school classes are pointless.” Regardless of how inappropriate that statement was, no one watches Ohio State play ball because of their teams GPA.

But Suarez is different. Suarez needs to be punished by his team, his league and his association.  This is not about questionable choices that he has made in his private life but the very rules of the game he is hired to play.

When he falls to the ground on his own and blames another player, he is cheating.  When he bites another player who is now injured, it is disgusting and it is cheating.

Lois Suarez makes an amazing amount of money to play a game for 9 months out of the year, and when he is no longer willing to play by the rules he should be removed.

If he were released by his team today, there would be a long line of talented players willing to earn just ½ of Suarez’s income to play a game for a living.  They may not be as talented, but they would be willing to play by the rules.


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Susan L Ruth

Susan L. Ruth is a long-time Washington, DC resident with extensive ties throughout the community.  She is a genealogical researcher and writer, and is an active volunteer in the Northern Virginia competitive swimming community.  Susan previously worked providing life-skills to head injured adults. 

Susan and her husband Kerry currently live in Northern Virginia with their three sons, Ryley, Casey and Jack and their American Bulldog, Leila.

 

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