Wake up, Luis Suarez!

2013-04-26 09:19
Sport24 columnist Ant Sims (File)
Being a genius is something which is very often associated with eccentricity. Whether it’s an artist who cuts off his ear or other peculiar incidents which involved those so incredibly talented acting in a way which seems somewhat incomprehensible to those who are on the outside looking in, those who possess a wealth of talent are often odd, tainted or somewhat deranged.

Genius or gifted were the two words used to describe Luis Suarez after he tried to sink his teeth into Branislav Ivanovic over the weekend. 

Those two words weren’t used to describe his despicable behaviour, of course, but rather genius in his ability as a footballer. Gifted or genius, however can only go so far as redeeming features to cover up being completely unlikable.

Suarez has become synonymous with controversy and his obscure antics have become almost expected, while his “Hand of God” save in the 2010 Soccer World Cup ensured he was loathed by an entire continent, it was not much different to a certain Argentine’s behaviour a few decades ago. 

The lists of incidents which makes him a genuinely unlikeable human being stretches far and wide and while many sportsmen have been in similar positions of harbouring discontent, Suarez’s rap sheet is starting to look like black dots on a five-year old’s preschool report.

His latest antics is the kind of stuff that would get somebody fired from their job and considering playing football is his job, it’s a shame that Suarez is still allowed to get away with it and both his employers seem to think that a light slap on the wrist is punishment enough for behaving like an ill disciplined toddler.

To sink your teeth into an opposition player might be the kind of stuff tabloid headline writers dream of, but to actually have it happen is dumbfounding. Considering it’s the second time Suarez has resorting to biting, one has to question whether he might be in need of some serious counselling. The Professional Footballers' Association did offer him “anger management” classes, but perhaps Suarez needs some learn to behave like a grown up classes instead.

After he was slapped with a 10-match ban, the club issued a statement voicing their shock at the extent of the punishment as the spiral of obscurity continued to twirl on.

The Uruguayan also disputed the claim that his conduct merits a longer punishment than the usual three-game ban, instead of simply keeping quiet and taking the punishment on the chin to complement his grovelling apology.

The behaviour of footballers on the pitch is something which is increasingly becoming shameful and embarrassing, even childish and downright pathetic. The excuse that is often used is that players will do anything to win and, in some cases, that apparently means cheating, diving, lying and generally behaving like a slimeball. While there are many unlikable sports starts, which many delight in when they fail and cringe when they succeed, it’s been a while since somebody has been as utterly unpleasant as Suarez where success or ability is rendered null and void because of their character flaws.

The greatest shame in all of it, though, is that Suarez is doing himself and football fans a great disservice by robbing them of being able to enjoy a really talented player, because his footballing ability is very fast becoming secondary to his sideshow antics on the pitch and even the most hardened Liverpool fan will be hard pressed to continue fighting in his corner for much longer.

He has the ability to produce some serious magic on the pitch and he proved it during that same game so marred by his antics, but instead of remembering the match for what he managed to produce (does anybody remember his second goal?), looking back, what will stand out is his bite on an opposition player - and that is also what will make the headlines.

While many greats have faltered in their careers, not many have ended their professional stints with black blotches tainting all of their achievements and it’s a great shame that somebody so very talented is going down the path where all he’ll be remembered for is how severely unpleasant he was.

Genius he might be, gifted he certainly is, but Suarez and his employers need to wake up. There is a legend in the making to be salvaged, but to wrap him up in cotton wool and pretend that there isn’t a serious issue is grossly unfair to those who love and support the game.

Ant Sims is a freelance writer who writes mainly about soccer and cricket for The Daily Maverick or anybody else who will have her...

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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