Lets get a few things out of the way right up front because I know you are going to nag on them as you read the rest of this post.
First and most important I’m a massive Manchester United fan, I have been for a very long time. I entertain debate about players, teams, coaches and refs all the time, I love the game and I love great players, in fact some of the players I will mention below I believe are true greats of the modern game.
Second I believe in winning, not at all costs but close. I believe in playing to the rules but playing as close to them as possible but never to the point of cheating. Above all sport should be about honor and integrity and if you cannot win with both intact then you lose with them both but you never blur the lines on this.
Lastly I don’t mind controversy. As I’ve said with my previous post on Tiger, I don’t care what the hell sportsmen do off the field, it’s not our right to judge! I don’t care Mario Balotelli parties in Ibiza with models mid-season (in fact I probably applaud it if his in field performance was as good as off it), I don’t care that Ryan Giggs had Tiger like sexual encounters and I don’t care that John Terry Slept with his teammates wife. All of these may be morally apprehensible but they are not popes or politicians, they are sportsman and the only judgment we can pass is that of their play on the field.
Now lets get to it then.
Football as far as I’m concerned has always had some controversy, sure, but it seems that nowadays we are entering a space that I feel the integrity of the game is being compromised. Racial chants from all corners of both international and local grounds, players spitting, punching and diving, referees using the pitch as their own personal power play, it is all starting to get a bit much and I feel a few people, especially one needs to made an example of.
Luis Suarez has made it into my crosshairs more than once and for good reason too. He has shown through so many events I can barely recount from biting someone, to racial abuse of Patrice Evra (then not shaking his hand in the next game), to hand balling in the World cup (and celebrating when the penalty was missed) to, this week for Uruguay, punching a defender in the face. I won’t go into his diving, crying and wining antics because that’s a football problem not a Suarez problem.
Through all of these things he is unapologetic and unwavering, he has not changed or corrected his behavior and it seems that the footballing authorities are either to scared or to stupid to do anything, but the bottom line is people who behave like this in sport degrade the game and its standards for everyone else!
Sure there have been some colorful characters in the past, Cantona, Maradona, Di Canio, John Terry, Joey Barton (I put him in the same category as Suarez, he should have been banned for years but he managed to run away and escape which is also not right) and the list goes on and on. The biggest difference is none of these players have had ongoing run-ins with refs, players and the rules like Suarez. Every time they stepped out of line they were punished or they learnt not to do it. Suarez like a child testing the boundaries with its parents continues to mess about and he needs to be put in his place, and soon!
The game is too precious to us all to allow people like him to continue to piss on the moral fiber that has been built for so many years. We must make an example of him, players like him and I fear that the football authorities must make the teams who employ these hooligans pay, not financially, for indiscretions that go unpunished.
I truly believe that if a few people are made harsh examples of we will be able to bring the moral compass somewhere closer to north because right now its certainly turning south and turning quickly!!