Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Luis Suarez Should Be Banned from the World Cup, John Henry Should Make a Statement

Luis Suarez is one of the most dangerous strikers in world soccer, not just for his scoring, but for his biting. Late in Uruguay's match against Italy, Suarez bit Giorgio Chiellini. He received no punishment on the field but FIFA are investigating the incident.

It's the third time Suarez has bit an opposing player. A dental hat trick. He's bitten opponents in three countries on two continents. In the past he's sampled Dutch and Serbian flesh. This was his first taste of Italian.

The whole thing is just insane. It's one thing for players to push, shove, even headbutt or punch in the heat of the moment. In all sports, players lose tempers and cross such lines. But to revert to biting someone, and to do so repeatedly, is so psychologically bizarre. That's something you'd expect a troubled kindergartner to do, and then the teacher would have to call home to his parents.

"Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Suarez? I'm afraid I have bad news. Luis is biting again."

As the Hannibal Lector and vampire jokes flow, so does the disgust and embarrassment from the soccer world. Few are defending Suarez. One of the few is Uruguay head coach Oscar Tabarez. After the game he said:

"I do not see why he would not play anymore at the World Cup as you are suggesting. Suarez is the target of some British press. If we see he is going to be attacked, which has begun at this press conference, we're going to defend him. I'm not going to repeat a response three times. I didn't see (an) incident with Suarez. I'm not going to comment. This is a World Cup. It is not about morality."

Those remarks had been translated from Spanish to English. I'll translate from English to Coachingese:

"If Suarez gets suspended, we have no chance. I'd defend him even if he bit off my left nut."

Uruguay's captain, Diego Lugano is in utter denial:

"You need to show me what happened because I didn't see anything. Did you see it today or did you see what happened in other years? You couldn't have seen it today because nothing happened.”

It's up to FIFA to discipline Suarez, because his coach has no interest in doing so, and clearly Suarez has no concept of self-discipline. Suarez feels unfairly criticized by media and fans even though he's been suspended twice for biting other players, and once for using racially charged language against an opponent. In his mind he's a victim. Everyone is out to get him and he can't figure out why.

There's a Boston connection to this. Suarez plays for Liverpool FC, which is owned by John Henry and Fenway Sports Group (FSG). Suarez is the team's best player, by far. This is the equivalent of David Ortiz biting an opponent during the World Baseball Classic.

Will John Henry do or say anything about this incident? Liverpool/Red Sox Ownership stood behind Suarez in 2011 when he was suspended 8 games and fined 40,000 pounds for directing racial language against an opposing player. I don't expect Henry or FSG to defend Suarez now. The evidence against him is too blatant, and he's a repeat offender.

I would like to hear something from FSG. Anything. This is a big story across the world, and Suarez works for John Henry. You'd think Henry would want to comment. Will any media in Boston ask Henry about it? Will any reporter have the stones to ask Henry if Suarez's recent contract extension includes full dental coverage?

Suarez should be banned for the remainder of the World Cup, perhaps longer than that. And the team that pays him millions should issue some sort of statement about the incident. John Henry and Fenway Sports Group can't sit on the sidelines. They need to take a stand one way or another.

He bit a dude. How can you not come out and say "That's messed up?"

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