The real Suarez scandal: according to the FA, a bite on the arm is much worse than a broken leg
Like most others, my reaction to the now-infamous Luis Suarez bite was disbelief. Even for Suarez, this came as a shock. I suppose it shouldn’t have, considering his track record. Accompanied by the Evra race row, the handball that knocked Ghana out of the 2010 World Cup, another biting incident when he played in the Eridvisie, and countless other controversies, this seems to be the latest attempt by the Uruguayan to become the pantomime villain of world football.
There seems to have been more outrage about this than all the other incidents combined. Biting an opponent is obviously wrong and, undoubtedly, he should have instantly been shown a red card for violent conduct and currently be serving the ensuing suspension.
Instead, he’s been handed a ten-match ban by the furious FA and been the subject of an incalculable number of articles calling for Liverpool to sack him immediately. The Daily Mail even wheeled out a kid who had been bitten by a young Suarez fan during a schoolyard kickabout.
The issue for me is that other than Chelsea fans – who understandably feel aggrieved that he remained on the pitch to score Liverpool’s equaliser – has much damage been done to anyone else? Branislav Ivanovic was checked for lasting injuries at the end of the match. Verdict: he has none. He started Chelsea’s next match and will continue his career as if nothing happened.
With this in mind, why is Suarez serving a longer suspension than, say, those players who recklessly tackle opponents with the intention of ‘letting them know they’re there’ and end up breaking their legs?
Two notable examples of this are Ryan Shawcross, who broke Aaron Ramsey’s leg in two places in 2010 and Martin Taylor, who broke Eduardo’s leg and fractured his ankle in 2008. Both served a standard three-match ban. Ramsey says it took him three years to return to the form he enjoyed prior to the tackle. I would argue that Martin’s tackle ended Eduardo’s Arsenal career – the Croatian never fully got back to the standard at which he played pre-injury and was sold to Shakhtar Donetsk in 2010.
So, why was there no all-round condemnation of Shawcross and Taylor? Where was the call for Stoke and Birmingham to sack them, for the FA to ban them for ten games, for them to pay a hefty fine?