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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Luis Suarez - The first footballer with his own insanity defence

Published 26/06/2014 | 18:16

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Luis Suarez

A nine game international ban plus a four month general ban would seem a rather lenient sentence for a man who, since the age of 16, has been leaving his mark - literally - on as many players and referees as he has on the pitch.

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According to one former Ingerland international, the fortunately-capped Danny Mills, the Uruguayan maestro deserves jail time. Alan Shearer has been wibbling on about a longer ban and we have spent the last 48 hours watching the kind of former professionals who still wear - metaphorically, at least - necklaces made from the metatarsals of their previous opponents demanding that Suarez be taken out and shot.

Even 1950 Uruguayan World cup winner Alcidia Ghiggia, has simply admitted that: "There's something not right with that boy" - and when even a Uruguayan feels the need to cautiously admit that their best player might be a little mental, you know you're on a sticky wicket.

That's not to presume or imply that all Uruguayan footballers are weird, violent, belligerent nutters who simply cannot be trusted to control their emotions before they lose all sense of reason and commit the kind of act - again - that deserves either a prison sentence or a serious, retaliatory battering from their victim. But let's be honest, he's hardly the first head case to come from that milieu.

Of course, any serious football fan is appalled by his actions. Of course, we are all meant to purse our lips and wag out fingers at such terribly vulgar, unsporting behaviour from a man who looks like he could be running a protection racket in the tough, northern Uruguayan suburb of Salto where he grew up - an airline hub that makes Atlanta look appealing.

But as undeniably, hilariously, deranged as his actions were, and as manifestly unsuited to the demands and 'moral' expectations that modern footballers are meant to ascribe to, Suarez has quite spectacularly raised the bar for any footballer who fancies making his own name a verb for insane behaviour.

Posturing popinjays like Ronaldo or the 'great' Zlatan might like to pretend that they are somehow above the usual demands and expectations of a modern icon - Suarez doesn't just walk that walk or talk that talk, he elegantly debunks the idea that a footballer should be a role model. Obviously, he is no role model for soccer Moms and an increasingly sanitised game. But he is an undeniably brilliant example of what happens when you allow a man who could give lessons to other footballing psychos about what it truly means to be a footballing psycho to become an icon. Because there can be no doubt to anyone with a functioning brain that here is a man with magic in his feet and carnage in his brain.

Maybe it's an Irish thing, but as the monochrome pundits on the Beeb and ITV struggled to show how appalled and shocked they were by his behaviour, the RTE panel simply struggled to control their laughter - and in Dunphy's case, presumably to bemoan the loss of a 175/1 bet that he would leave a hickey on an opponent.

If this has been the best World Cup that many of us can remember, Suarez is the git that keeps on giving and the fact that he managed to provoke the notoriously cynical Italians into a frenzy of self righteous fury merely adds to the perverse enjoyment that we are all feeling.

Well, maybe not all of us. Because as soon as the news of his suspension broke - a suspension that will probably find itself legally challenged by both the Uruguayan FA and whatever absurdly optimistic club decides to pay his weekly wages - Liverpool fans were decrying the decision.

As one Scouse fan asked yesterday: "Why always us?"

Well, his day-to-day employers could be accused of cosseting and indulging a man who takes 'moody' to the point of being pathologically weird and sneaky, but his defenders would argue that what you see is what you get.

The fact that 'what you see' is a man so heroically demented that he thinks biting someone's shoulder is a reasonable response to being marked merely adds to the air of general hilarity.

Yes, we should all pretend to outraged. Yes, we should all look at our kids the next time they take to the field and tell them that Suarez is a salutary example and not a role model. And, sure, we can all talk about how the man obviously needs serious psychiatric help. But will anyone be surprised if he goes to an expensive American rehab centre to deal with his 'issues' - 'issues' that will be remedied and cured roughly when this ban ends?

Interestingly, Liverpool fans are complaining that he won't be available for them until at least the end of October - the reality is that the only way we he will ever grace Anfield again is if he is drawn against Liverpool for his new club in the Champions League.

And the Uruguyan response?

Well, it is the fault of the Gringo media and jealous Brits who hate their national hero.

God, this World Cup just keeps on giving...

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