21/04/2013

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Luis Suarez yet again cloaked himself in controversy after savagely sinking his teeth into the shoulder of Branislav Ivanovic during Sunday’s game at Anfield against Chelsea.

The Uruguayan striker has already attracted negative media attention this season, following the unintentional handball committed against Mansfield in the FA cup which lead to a goal. The striker was antagonised for not admitting the handball which effectively would have disallowed the goal.
Suarez in second chomp controversy
Although confessing to the handball would potentially have set a precedent of “ethics” in football, it is indisputable that his manager, team-mates and fans would have been jumping over the moon with pride at the honesty. Arguably, any footballer would ignore the fact that the advantage they have won their team is illegitimate, just like many fans would too.

There is no doubt that Suarez is an extraordinarily talented player proven by his nomination for player of the year, but his accumulation of undeniably controversial and reckless behaviours is more than likely to weaken any chance he held of claiming the award.

Ivanovic is not the only player to be bitten by the former Ajax captain; Otman Bakkal’s shoulder also received a chomp when playing for PSV Eindhoven in a league fixture against Ajax. Suarez was issued with a seven match ban.

Regrettably Suarez is not alone in exhibiting such shameful behaviour on the pitch, but because his reputation precedes him, his actions are consistently highlighted more so than others. Regardless of the way the media may appear to portray him, his actions are not condoned and are categorically deserving of punishment.

The question that is fore-running the minds of the football nation, is what are the FA going to do about today’s occurrence? The FA have continued to portray themselves as a weak body, shirking their responsibilities by hiding behind referee’s decisions. Examples of this are unavoidable; Callum McManaman who escaped punishment at the time, and retrospectively by the FA for his challenge on Newcastle’s Massadio Haidar and more recently bizarrely reprieving Sergio Aguero for his blatant two footed lunge on David Luiz.

To uphold the integrity of the game, it is imperative for the FA to reinforce their power and prevent the re-occurrences of dangerous challenges, and embarrassing behaviour on the pitch.

In any other industry, there would be no dispute about the disciplinary action taken against an employee who bit a co-worker. So why is this allowed to happen in the football industry? It is unheard of for a player to be ‘sacked’ by his club; instead it is more common for the club to defend the player for his misdemeanour's  regardless of his guilt.

This defence of the indefensible is a modern day cancer within the game.  Not only does it enable players to deliberately flout the rules of the game, but it also alienates fans – who know only too well that if they perpetrated the same offence they would not receive such leniency.

Maybe the most alarming consequence of this ‘sweep it under the carpet’ attitude, is the example it sets to youngsters who look upon professional footballers to be role models. Children learn through association. Witnessing a role model escape punishment vicariously reinforces the idea that the action committed is not a bad one, and that it is okay for them to follow the same example.

Let us hope that the FA will seize this opportunity to act with a firm hand and show footballers and supporters alike that this unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated in football.

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