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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Outside the Box – Football on TV: The football world turns on Suarez as he bites off more than he can chew


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Just when you think the sleaze-ridden, hate-filled, cartoon puppetry ghoul fest that is football can’t plunge any lower, out pop the gnashers of a serial offender to attract the world’s accusing eyes once again. Luis Suarez, the only footballer in Britain who can be involved in controversy with a Chelsea player and end up being the one who looks like a tosser. Although I suspect it might have been different if he’d bitten John Terry, we’d probably be showering him with praise and checking he hadn’t inadvertently ingested the bile that presumably courses through Terry’s veins.

Yes, in an unusually controversial Premier League weekend, the big Live Super Sunday game at Anfield spat out a delicious menu of goals, conjecture and teeth marks as Suarez continued his campaign to make each season he plays more controversial than the last. It was in the 65th minute of the game that the Uruguayan marksman realised he’d missed lunch and nibbled on the arm of Branislav Ivanovic. The incident has predictably caused worldwide hysteria as Suarez has joined the glitterati of unhinged sportsman like Mike Tyson, Vinnie Jones or Happy Gilmore. And it’s got the raft of ex-pros, pundits and newsmen furrowing their brows and tutting very loudly.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident during Sky’s broadcast, the studio guests seemed to be in a dazed state of shock. Liverpool legend and doom oscillator Graeme Souness could barely speak he was so flummoxed by Suarez’s actions. He just kept babbling about the striker being in the “last chance saloon” and that it was “embarrassing” for Liverpool. Alongside him the words ‘embarrassing’ and ‘Liverpool’ were again pertinent as fellow Anfield ‘legend’ Jamie Redknapp was throwing in his usual jabbering two cents. Deviating from Souness’ maudlin and monosyllabic analysis, our Jamie instead went for a kind of confusing mish-mash of tongue twisting criticism and dogmatic righteousness; he stated somewhat confusingly that Suarez had a “madness genius gene”, before declaring that Liverpool, “is bigger than any player that has got on the football field” although I think you’ll find Jamie that Jan Molby wasn’t far off.

Redknapp as ever provided the crowning glory of the tag-teamed Suarez rant when, after spending about an hour trashing his name and lamenting the heinous crime of taking a chunk out of an opponent’s arm; he told us it had been a bad day for strikers all round with the tepid performances of Torres and Dzeko and Adebayor from the earlier game but “at least Suarez showed some energy and appetite”. Erm Jamie, it’s his appetite that’s got him into this mess.

Another feature of the Suarez Bitegate hullabaloo is that its not his first venture into cannibalism. Both Sky and later on during Match Of The Day 2, his previous teethy transgression was brought up. While playing for Ajax, Suarez sunk his choppers into an opponent’s neck during an altercation and received a seven-game ban, and cheeky chappy Colin Murray gleefully brought us the pictures that looked not unlike a deleted scene from the last Twilight film. And it got me thinking; there’s serious security implications here people. I mean, has anybody actually checked that Suarez is not in fact a crazed zombie? Or a slightly ill-tempered vampire? It begs the question, what the hell are these Club doctors testing during the epic medical exams that are carried out when players sign? Forget spending half the day collecting their urine in a jug, just find out if the guy’s a reanimated corpse with anger issues for heaven’s sake!

If Suarez is a member of the undead and working his way through the world game feasting on the souls of his fellow footballers, one guy who has nothing to worry about is MOTD2’s resident smarm-sponge Robbie Savage. The Welshmen joined in with the chorus of condemnation of Suarez’s actions, and in fact seemed to suggest it is the worst of the striker’s many misdemeanours. It’s been a feature of the coverage so far that Suarez is being vilified for this incident as much as, perhaps even more so, than the race storm last year involving Patrice Evra. I find it curious that the fairly innocuous, albeit revolting and vile nibble on the spongy arm of Ivanovic is comparable to the alleged racist abuse of the United defender. Whilst I don’t want to witness footballers wilfully tucking into their peers’ body parts; to equate the Suarez incident from this weekend with his, in my opinion, infinitely more shameful treatment of Evra is a dangerous thing. Racism is unfortunately a ghost at the banquet that refuses to disappear, whereas what Luis Suarez did on Sunday was a mere nibble of the buffet. Let’s not forget that.


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