As a football fan, I like Luis Suarez. But, then again, as a football fan I don’t like Luis Suarez at all. He’s an extremely contradictory figure, one moment graceful and skilled on the ball, the next petulant, stupid, aggressive and childish.
Since Suarez took a great chomp at the hammy arm of Branislav Ivaniovic everyone from Gary Lineker to David Cameron has had something to say on the matter. It has caused outrage, anger and demands for harsh punishment. These cries for blood seem to have been answered in the form of a 10-match ban from the FA. Only the ban itself has caused further anger, with some saying that 10 matches is far too long.
Except, and let me state this as clearly as I can, it’s not too long at all. It isn’t even enough. I mean, if little Luis had taken a nibble out of some bloke in the street he would have been arrested, biting comes under the definition of assault and can result in Actual Bodily Harm. It’s a pretty serious offence.
So why, then, has Suarez not been arrested? He faced criminal charges for his previous misdemeanour, racially abusing Patrice Evra, and while racism is a truly disgusting hate crime is it markedly worse than physical assault?
The whole drama has highlighted a wider problem with the world of football and the way we treat our sporting idols. We need to think long and hard about how football players are punished by their professional bodies, but footballers also need to be held to the same standards as ordinary people.
What makes the whole drama even more disappointing is that Suarez is clearly such a gifted player. He continually lets himself, his club and his sport down, and it pains me to say that I think he needs to be punished more harshly. It doesn’t matter what club you support, whether it is Liverpool or Norwich – football as a culture has a pretty negative reputation.
Players are seen as spoilt and cartoonish and fans stupid, aggressive and violent. If football is ever going to be viewed positively then this is exactly the kind of thing that needs to be cracked down on, and hard.
What makes this latest debacle, along with the racism scandal, so much worse than all of his other foul-mouthed, petulant and unsporting behaviour is that it is an actual crime, and he needs to be punished accordingly otherwise Suarez, along with the rest of the football society, will never learn.