Another weekend of English Premier League football has raced by with the thrills and spills that are customary of the top flight—great goals, fantastic displays, shock results and the odd dubious decision along the way. Oh yeah, I forgot another recent convention of the game: the Suarez-based scandal.
Let’s face it: the Premiership, these days, just isn’t complete without seeing Suarez’s name dominate every conceivable column inch of the back pages and the debates forums of various media outlets.
What’s the best way to describe Suarez? He’s an inspirational genius with the ball at his feet: one of the most exciting and imaginative talents to have ever graced the hallowed turfs of the EPL, on his day.
The other side of him—the Edward Hyde to his Dr Henry Jekyll—has a questionable attitude and a terrible on- and off--field reputation that, consequently, rubs people—who are not susceptible to his footballing charms—up the wrong way.
Suarez didn’t invent this dichotomy; the profile is reminiscent of several others before him like Eric Cantona and Everton’s troubled striker Duncan Ferguson, who may not have been as skillful as Suarez but was no less influential to the teams he represented.
Yet, in a weekend that saw a player punch another around the chops, a deliberate stamp on an opponent’s chest and a far more ludicrous attempt to get the Villa goalkeeper sent off for a phantom trip, Suarez’s ill-conceived dive in Stoke box meant that his name would still be the top trend for discussion—quite literally actually as "Suarez" was a trending topic on Twitter for a whole day prior to the incident on Sunday afternoon.
Are things not getting out of hand now? This entire state of affairs has gone on since Suarez first stepped onto the field of play in England. Before he had gotten out of business class, people already had negative preconceptions of his behaviour following his bite on PSV’s Otman Bakkal while he was playing for Ajax two years ago, and his handball in the quarter-final tie against Ghana in the World Cup of the same year.
One can see from his rap sheet that Suarez is hardly Mahatma Gandhi; he’d probably be the first to admit that himself. But he is distinctly young and human, prone to mistakes and errors in judgement. So why have the press chosen to make him their designated Beelzebub? Why have the media unashamedly overlooked every other controversy that has occurred this weekend to again single out a player who has attempted a few small deceits that have led, ultimately, to nought?
You see these tricks happening all of the time! Players often ask for throw-ins that they’re not entitled to. Often, if a ball hits a player anywhere near the arm region, the players and fans react as if they have no doubts that the player has handled. In no way am I excusing this type of conduct, but these are similar examples that show that we are all guilty of trying to gain unfair advantages for the good of our respective teams.
Reader warning: From this point onward—if you haven’t already realised—there is no chance that I will dabble in the kind of selfish persecutory subliminally adjusting rabble-rousing that the suggestible football supporter has become accustomed to lately. I will be overtly and enormously biased in favour of Liverpool’s No. 7 in the same way that so many have been sickeningly biased against him.
So the overriding question to investigate is, Why is Suarez so severely vilified? Possibly I have alluded to the answer already a few paragraphs back—maybe he is a living, breathing, real-life trend on legs, even for the people who are not so informed about footballing issues. If the general consensus is Suarez equals bad, then why would those, who have no prior perceptions of the man, go against the grain? Perhaps the whole thing is just a simple fad or phenomenon.
Of course it won’t (or shouldn’t) be as basic as that but I have spoken to many casual football fans whose abhorrence toward the Uruguayan is almost genetically predisposed. In summation, they don’t like him because they don’t like him.
While we’re in the realms of that level of juvenile inanity and plainness, maybe some people don’t like the cut of his jib: his hair, his face or even the way he carries himself too.
Witticisms aside, there are a predominance of pliable minds with naïve acceptances, rarely forming their own uninfluenced views. Because of this, what the media put out usually becomes the standard-bearer of truth and accuracy. Subsequently, the press’ continual criticism of Suarez is great business for them as it sells and inspires further debate on the subject for further sales.
Then, furthermore, such audiences are being continually bombarded with the message that Luis Suarez is the enemy of the people and, naturally, believe what they read.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers summed it up in an article I read in the London Evening Standard when he said “whatever Luis does there will always be a problem, whether it's media, referees or whatever.” It’s true. It feels as if Suarez couldn’t tie his shoelace right now without being accused of something grievous.
Perhaps Suarez is disliked because of his ability to frighten the life out of opposing teams and the fans who nervously chomp their nails down to nothing when he gains possession and goes on one of his mazey mesmeric dribbles. That element of envy—envy that he is not part of their club—has to come into it?
When Liverpool faced Norwich at Carrow Road this season, the Norwich fans counteracted Suarez’s second consecutive outstanding display against them by hurling as much abuse as they could at him. He’s never dived against them, reacted poorly toward them, yet the more influential he became in the game, the louder the taunts and jibes became.
In comparison, the more established Premier League clubs, who boast their own set of gifted players amongst their ranks, haven’t been drawn on targeting a single player in the same way when they’ve played Liverpool.
Maybe I’m just a deluded Liverpool devotee with pistolero goggles on and an overprotective nature that doesn’t allow me to fathom the prescribed reality—that Luis Suarez is a disease on English football, one that has to be handed a lengthy ban or even shipped out of the country—if you adhere to the comments of some opinion makers. Get rid of a footballer because he goes to ground easily?! Admit it: There’s something unethical about the whole thing.
I’ve tried my best to, at least, understand why the bandwagon of animosity only seems to attend the 25-year-old’s doorstep, yet I still fail to identify how Suarez’s attempts to get penalties—two of which should have been attributed to him and another that was several penalties in one challenge—are far greater offences than an instance that was equivalent to common assault from the steel-studded boot of a 6’3" Stoke centre back in the same match as Suarez’s latest transgression.
Luis Suarez is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t from now on. Heck—he’s probably damned if somebody else does, at the moment.
Liverpool fans were in good spirits about it yesterday, nonetheless, when they Twitter trended #SuarezVilification in which they would raise various personal misdemeanours that have nothing to do with Suarez, and blame them on the forward.
Now, the powers that be are promising an olive branch regarding the whole mess provided Suarez is honest in all his efforts. But how long must he continue to get pummelled whilst remaining docile to the injustices before he is given a one measly penalty? It’s the how long is a piece of string metaphor all over again, I think.