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Tuesday 24 October 2017

Rodgers rages after Suarez admits dive

Chris Bascombe

Luis Suarez has been given a dressing-down by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and reminded of his responsibilities to promote the club's image after the Uruguayan admitted diving to try to win a penalty.

Rodgers was infuriated after the South American striker admitted he "invented a foul" during a match with Stoke last October. He has spoken to Suarez about his concerns, but the Uruguayan has not been fined for his comments.

Stoke manager Tony Pulis said Suarez's dive was "embarrassing" at the time of the incident.

Rodgers defended his star striker in the aftermath of Pulis' criticism, saying there was a culture in South America of trying to win penalties. At the time, the Liverpool manager went so far as to issue a statement on the club's website saying "the vilification of Luis is both wrong and unfair".

Although Rodgers insisted he did not feel let down by Suarez's latest remarks, he felt compelled to take a tough line, both publicly and privately, with the 25-year-old.

"The bottom line is that, from my perspective as the manager and leader of the club, it was wrong for Luis to say what he said," said Rodgers.

"It was not acceptable and it will be dealt with internally. Diving is not something we advocate here. Our ethics are correct.

"No one is bigger than the club. I have spoken with Luis and we move on. He knows how I feel. This is a big club, bigger than anyone, and whatever people say goes around the world. He accepts that.

"In fairness to Luis, there have been times when he has knocked on my door and apologised for things. He got booked for a handball (against Southampton) earlier this season and it was instinctive. He is not malicious. It is just his nature."

Suarez will find it difficult to discern what all the fuss is about, because one of the underappreciated nuances of the whole diving issue is that cheating belongs to a winning component known and accepted in Uruguay as viveza criolla – a kind of Machiavellian native cunning that is all part of the pursuit of competitive advantages.

No prizes, then, for imagining how Suarez, who has publicly ascribed great significance to Liverpool sticking up for him, will feel about hearing his conduct described to the media as "unacceptable" and "wrong".

Suarez's candid but rather naive admission is the latest in a series of mishaps which has left the Merseyside club feeling they are constantly having to put out fires around their No 7.

Following on from last year's race row with Patrice Evra, Suarez has twice been accused of cheating in the last few months.

Liverpool's stance that he is more sinned against than sinner wasn't exactly helped by the interview he gave to South American television earlier this week.

"In fairness to him, most players wait until the end of their careers when they are writing their books and say these things, but he has been honest enough to come out and say it in the middle of his career," said Rodgers.

The broader concern for Liverpool is, having created a sense of persecution at the manner in which Suarez is treated by officials – so certain is the Kop that genuine penalty claims are being ignored they have created a chant about it – they are even less likely to get 50-50 calls.

"It's been difficult for us this season with regards penalties. We've had only only one," acknowledged Rodgers.

"This situation might affect people's thinking. I'm not saying it will do, but it could do. It might make people think twice about things and that's certainly something we don't want.

Pulis insisted the English FA should retrospectively punish players found guilty of diving and highlighted Southampton's Jay Rodriguez as the Premier League's latest "cheat" following his winning of a penalty at Aston Villa last Saturday.

"They should look at it on a Monday after games and then people who have got caught simulating should be punished. If you punish them for three games, four games, five games or whatever, it takes it out of the referee's hands.

"There should be a rule that if a player is found blatantly diving to gain advantage, whether to get a penalty or to con a referee into giving a decision, it should be dealt with severely. It would soon stop it. It's cheating."

Irish Independent

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