Collymore's World Cup Corner: Suarez Should Be Punished but Also Treated

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Collymore's World Cup Corner: Suarez Should Be Punished but Also Treated
Ricardo Mazalan/AP Images

There is a grey area that separates mental health issues from genius. Some of the great players had problems, such as Paul Gascoigne, George Best and Diego Maradona. Luis Suarez fits that model in terms of his quality as a player, and I also have no doubt that Tuesday's incident was a bite. I've seen the replay; I've seen it slowed down.

However, having had mental health issues myself, I also know from my contacts within the Premier League and Liverpool that Liverpool have been giving him support and counselling and that should continue.

Suarez obviously has impulse-control issues.

Julian Finney/Getty Images
Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini shows off his bite marks after the Suarez incident.

But what do we do? Do we say "three strikes and you're out" and ban him for 20 games or a year and deny the world a great footballer? Or do we look at the situation?

Perhaps Liverpool could offer information and Suarez could receive an evaluation from a mental health professional—the results of which could be taken into consideration when a match ban is considered.

There are a lot of geniuses who have played professional football and other professional sports who have had quite significant mental health issues.

But Suarez is the first I can remember—and I'll stick my neck out and say this—for whom those issues came out on the football pitch in such spectacular fashion.

For other players, it comes out in alcoholism; it comes out in violence; it comes out in drugs; it comes out in gambling. For Suarez, I believe it comes out in this impulse to bite.

Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
Suarez checks his teeth.

For me, an evaluation should be made of his mental health, and any ban or fine should take that information into consideration.

If I was FIFA, I'd have him undergo an evaluation. I believe FIFA could get loads of information from Liverpool. Then, for argument's sake, let's say Suarez is given a 20-game ban. After evaluating him, FIFA could cut it in half to 10 games.

Suarez should be punished, but he should be punished in relation to who he is. It's more ludicrous to suggest that he just likes to bite people than recognising that he has impulse issues—issues that, while contributing to his genius as a footballer, also make him act out so unacceptably.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

I also don't think Liverpool should suspend him. The incident hasn't happened under their watch. But I think they should offer information, and so should the Uruguayan Football Association. They should be very aware who Suarez is by now.

The problem is it's difficult for club doctors and professional footballers to come forward with mental health issues because they'd get slaughtered as weak.

We have lots of situations with athletes, whether they be cricketers or tennis players or footballers, who deny they are struggling with a stress-related illness when they'd easily come forward with the diagnosis of a physical problem.

Suarez needs to be evaluated and then be open and honest, saying: "I have impulse issues in certain circumstances; I'm getting help; I also recognise the need to be punished for my actions."

 

Stan Collymore is a former Liverpool, Aston Villa and England striker who has forged a hugely successful second career as a radio and TV broadcaster.

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