Luis Suárez needs help after biting Giorgio Chiellini – what he did was not just rash but entirely self-destructive
That sinking feeling: Luis Suárez, once again, could be the master of his own downfall after biting Giorgio Chiellini
By Jim White9:05PM BST 24 Jun 2014
After being caught up in three high-profile biting incidents, even the Uruguay striker’s apologists must, surely, now understand that the man needs help
Luis Suárez bites his Italian opponent Giorgio Chiellini during the game in Brazil and there is only one source we can blame: clearly it is the fault of the English media. We made him do it. It was all our fault. If we had been nicer to him during his time in England – you know given him the Footballer of the Year Award, cheered him to the echo, constantly publicly reckoned him the finest footballer to play in this country for the past 10 years, that sort of thing – then he wouldn’t have done it. He would have been too busy helping old ladies across the road to worry about snacking on a chunk of Italian shoulder.
No doubt his fan club, the ones who take to Twitter to excuse his transgressions at every turn, will once more be leaping to his defence. No doubt those who dare suggest he is perhaps a little ill-disciplined will be put right, told they are merely part of a vicious media conspiracy to do a good man down. There is no evidence he bit Chiellini, the Suárez supporters will say. As for the teeth marks, how do we know that the Italian didn’t inflict those wounds on himself before he went out on the field simply to assault the integrity of their hero? Clearly Chiellini was in the pay of the English press. Besides, how do we know that those are Suarez’s gnashers involved? Has anyone checked the dental records? Has there been a DNA test? Can you dust for spittle?
Luis Suarez in biting controversy during Uruguay’s World Cup game against Italy
Italy v Uruguay: Luis Suárez takes centre stage after appearing to bite Giorgio Chiellini en route to knockouts
Italy v Uruguay, World Cup 2014: as it happened
Giorgio Chiellini shows off his left shoulder following the incident in Natal
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Sadly for his apologists – actually, sadly for all us who have enjoyed his goals – as Uruguay progress towards the last 16, Suarez is unlikely to be involved any further in this competition. However much his manager Oscar Tabarez might try to evade the question, claiming he didn’t see the attack and suggesting to the BBC man who asked about it after the match that he had an agenda against the player, the television evidence is such that the authorities will be obliged to act. Biting an opponent – just like racially abusing one – is not an acceptable part of the game. For the third time in his career, Suarez will be banned from playing football for sinking his teeth into a fellow professional. Three times: this is not unlucky, this is a pattern of behaviour. This is a pathology.
A player whose ability is without question – as was demonstrated by his brilliant performance against England – has once again behaved as if several vital components in the brain area are not fully functioning. At the time of his toothy strike, the game hung in the balance. Whatever the provocations he may have faced – though Chiellini did not appear to do anything untoward in the moments leading up to the assault – to behave in that way entirely jeopardised his team’s potential progress. Had he been sent off at that point, his team’s chances would have been holed below the water line. To do what he did wasn’t just rash: it was entirely self-destructive.
Surely now the facts are incontrovertible: Suarez is a footballer utterly compromised by his wayward temperament. There is no-one else to blame but him for that. To suggest he is the victim of a cultural misunderstanding, that he has been targeted by a media conspiracy, that he is in anyway anything other than the villain in his actions on the pitch in Brazil is absurd.
And as such this time it would be best for everyone concerned – the player himself and those who he plays against – if he sought psychological help. He was offered counselling after he had attacked Branislav Ivanovic last season but preferred not to take advantage of it. One doctor who studied that attack on the Chelsea man reckoned it was so uncontrolled that – without concentrated psychiatric assistance – he would be bound to repeat the behaviour again within five years. That he has done it within a year is further proof of the assistance he requires. Any ban incurred for this latest transgression must include intervention as part of the sentence.
Besides, on this one football needs to act. It is on talent like Suarez’s that tickets are sold, television contracts renewed, shirt sales pinned. This is the sadness of his behaviour: to watch him in action this season has been to see football played at a sublime level. He really was that good. If Roy Hodgson didn’t think the man who electrified English football last year is not world class, then goodness knows how good world class must be. Yet that talent is now compromised. To ensure it is not broken beyond repair means something more than just a ban must be enforced. Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder is all the evidence required to tell you this: the man needs help.