Oliver Phillips discusses the behaviour of Barcelona and former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez at his Barcelona presentation. Picture: Action Images

Luis Suarez at his Barcelona presentation. Picture: Action Images

First published in Sport Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by

Luis Suarez is an honourable man, a proud man and an honest gentleman who cares for his family. That was the view expressed by Brendan “Don’t doubt my integrity” Rodgers in the late summer of 2013. I am not sure how much credibility was given to such utterances but they seem particularly daft remarks then and even more so in the light of subsequent events.

Someone found guilty of using comments deemed to be racist and then caught biting a second opponent, lacks honour, has nothing to be proud of and is far from being a gentleman. Of course the pigeons came home to roost in the World Cup and, when facing a big rap for another biting incident, he made out in his defence that his teeth had accidentally made contact with his opponent. On appeal, he then changed his plea and admitted he had deliberately bitten his opponent and swore it would not happen again.

His lawyer, who had defended his client’s innocence, even suggesting that FIFA had been stirred into action by the British press, was left looking like a burbling spouter of utter nonsense when Suarez pleaded guilty. He was left to claim the verdict would please the British press who are always criticising Suarez - conveniently forgetting that same press had voted Suarez Player of the Season just two months earlier.

Now we have the appeal against the sentence lodged with the Court of Arbitration and we can only guess at the decision. Will the body overturn the ruling made by FIFA - that honourable body that dispenses justice and keeps its fingers so firmly on the pulse of the game, run by that excellent Sepp Blather (Blatter)?

The ruling is due any moment, but the Suarez case has only helped to underline the growing lack of morality in the game. Barcelona, who have been a classic example of the truly beautiful game are only interested in getting a cut-price world-class striker. Never mind how he might disgrace them or besmirch a shining image: greed and the need to be competitive at the top level is all that matters.

We had the same last season when Arsene Wenger was only too eager to pay for Suarez, soon after the player had been found guilty and punished for his second bite. So Rodgers was not alone in trying to turn a blind eye to reality and indeed his predecessor, the nit-picking, carping Kenny Dalglish - easily the worst manager I have ever been involved in interviewing - was supporting his players wearing t-shirts backing the Uruguayan and he too finished with egg all over his face.

Of course there is an argument along the lines that a player attempts a potentially leg-breaking tackle and may miss three matches at worst, and such an act is far more serious than some little runt attempting to sink his teeth into you. But then football is full of such anomalies based on a flawed morality that it all balances out in the end, which of course is very rarely the case in reality.

We are also subject to the repeated observations former professionals on the television whose remarks during the match, include the relishing of the fact a defender gave the striker a little nudge just before he went up for the ball, so preventing the attacker getting in a clean header. The fact that it is against the rules, and against morality, is never questioned.

Then there is the foul in midfield, when a player threatens to break through, possibly giving his side a three-against-two advantage, as he homes in on goal, only to be hauled down. “He took one for the team,” says the ex-pro as if the booked defender has done something honourable. In fact the defender would have thought twice if a deliberate, cynical foul was rewarded with a red card. Now I can hear the protests: if you did that every time a player fouled, you would end up with three a side. But of course I am not talking about accidental or mistimed fouls but deliberate, cynical fouls attempting to negate the opposition’s advantage, by “taking one for the team” and presumably receiving a medal for his valour back in the dressing room.

Before another decade is out, we may see video technology playing a much bigger part in football. I see there are already suggestions for managers to be allowed to question a referee’s decision once in every half. It will happen and after watching the Test cricket over the past few years, and noting the injustices perpetrated in the series with India, who do not allow DRS, we know the game might be interrupted but the result will be fairer, which to my mind is the important factor.

Another Luis, albeit spelt differently, David Luiz, hit the headlines earlier in the summer becoming the world’s most expensive defender with a fee which reportedly could rise to £50m taking him to PSG.

Now the French club may have got the wrong end of the stick with regard to the new Fair Play laws introduced by UEFA. Those restrictions are purely financial, but one gains the impression PSG think they might pick up brownie points by having a suspect defender at the heart of their backline, so giving their opponents a fair chance.

I wonder what they thought when they saw Luiz floundering against Germany, unaware it seemed, as to whether he was on foot or horseback. Luiz, scorer of a great free kick in the previous round, claimed his ability stemmed from superior genes. One suspects he has had to revisit his antecedents after that hapless display - one of several during the competition.

People laud Jose Mourinho but selling David Luiz for £50m was one of his greatest achievements.

This article was first published in the Watford Observer on Friday, before the Court of Arbitration upheld Suarez's ban but ruled it only applied to competitive games.

Comments (10)

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9:50am Thu 21 Aug 14

harryhornet says...

Quite what this article is doing on the WFC pages in the first place is beyond me, aside from the fact it was written by a journalist who formerly reviewed Watford games. But since it is, and since I read it, I feel I must comment on one or two things.

Firstly, I would disagree entirely that the Rodgers quote amounts to daft utterances. He was commenting on Suarez as an individual. From what I've seen/heard of Suarez off the field he is a likeable, devoted family man. I'd far rather end up in conversation with him than I would some of our much-vaunted English stars whose moral compass is, at best, off-set. I expect that Rodgers was wheeled out here because of his Watford connections and the "integrity" reference is a shameful attempt to gain favour with those amongst the readership of this website who still harp back to Rodgers' decision to jump ship for Reading. (It is largely irrelevant but for what its worth, in hindsight I think the decisions of both Rodgers and Mackay were entirely logical knowing what we do now about the clowns that were the running the club at the time, and Rodgers has since gone on to demonstrate that he was right to test himself at a club looking upwards...)

I agree though that Suarez looked silly when protesting his innocence. But what I never understood was whether the authorities might, instead of casting Suarez out as a criminal, have stopped to wonder if there might be an underlying condition prompting his violent, toothy episodes. Once can be deemed a sin; twice more so, but three times suggests there is something underlying it that merits medical/psychologica
l examination and potential treatment. No logical person, with the prospect of competing at the height of your career, in the latter rounds of a world cup would choose to do something that he knows (from bitter experience) will undoubtedly bring a lenghty ban. Which is why I think the guy needs help. Not another ban and chastising by all connected with the game. By all means chastise but do something about the motive at the same time.

As it happens, I am one of those who thinks Suarez' punishment for a biting offence should be at least no more severe than for a leg-breaking tackle or a punch. Aside from the fact that it is "wierd" there is really no difference between a bite and a punch either in terms of the impact on the opponent or the example set for youngsters.

As for your comment about Dalglish, I'm not sure what he did to upset you but again, that comment doesn't serve you well. Rather it makes you appear a little bitter.
Quite what this article is doing on the WFC pages in the first place is beyond me, aside from the fact it was written by a journalist who formerly reviewed Watford games. But since it is, and since I read it, I feel I must comment on one or two things. Firstly, I would disagree entirely that the Rodgers quote amounts to daft utterances. He was commenting on Suarez as an individual. From what I've seen/heard of Suarez off the field he is a likeable, devoted family man. I'd far rather end up in conversation with him than I would some of our much-vaunted English stars whose moral compass is, at best, off-set. I expect that Rodgers was wheeled out here because of his Watford connections and the "integrity" reference is a shameful attempt to gain favour with those amongst the readership of this website who still harp back to Rodgers' decision to jump ship for Reading. (It is largely irrelevant but for what its worth, in hindsight I think the decisions of both Rodgers and Mackay were entirely logical knowing what we do now about the clowns that were the running the club at the time, and Rodgers has since gone on to demonstrate that he was right to test himself at a club looking upwards...) I agree though that Suarez looked silly when protesting his innocence. But what I never understood was whether the authorities might, instead of casting Suarez out as a criminal, have stopped to wonder if there might be an underlying condition prompting his violent, toothy episodes. Once can be deemed a sin; twice more so, but three times suggests there is something underlying it that merits medical/psychologica l examination and potential treatment. No logical person, with the prospect of competing at the height of your career, in the latter rounds of a world cup would choose to do something that he knows (from bitter experience) will undoubtedly bring a lenghty ban. Which is why I think the guy needs help. Not another ban and chastising by all connected with the game. By all means chastise but do something about the motive at the same time. As it happens, I am one of those who thinks Suarez' punishment for a biting offence should be at least no more severe than for a leg-breaking tackle or a punch. Aside from the fact that it is "wierd" there is really no difference between a bite and a punch either in terms of the impact on the opponent or the example set for youngsters. As for your comment about Dalglish, I'm not sure what he did to upset you but again, that comment doesn't serve you well. Rather it makes you appear a little bitter. harryhornet
  • Score: 1

10:41am Thu 21 Aug 14

HornetJJ says...

Why is this in the Watford Observer? It's also going over old ground which has been done and dusted!
Why is this in the Watford Observer? It's also going over old ground which has been done and dusted! HornetJJ
  • Score: 0

12:03pm Thu 21 Aug 14

Harry's Bar says...

If Watford had taken the moral high ground with Deeney they would have sacked him. Where would that of got us?

Also, I think it's a bit mean to describe Suarez as a "little runt".
If Watford had taken the moral high ground with Deeney they would have sacked him. Where would that of got us? Also, I think it's a bit mean to describe Suarez as a "little runt". Harry's Bar
  • Score: 0

12:10pm Thu 21 Aug 14

Hornets number 12 fan says...

Ha! Honourable by backside!!!
Ha! Honourable by backside!!! Hornets number 12 fan
  • Score: 0

12:12pm Thu 21 Aug 14

Poppet Bear says...

That's the British Press for you. If you don't like it, don't read it.
That's the British Press for you. If you don't like it, don't read it. Poppet Bear
  • Score: -1

12:21pm Thu 21 Aug 14

Hornet Cornet says...

This has got to be the most pointless article I have seen on this website. It's got nothing to do with Watford, is based on subjective clap trap and is just a forum for some second rate journalist to try and make a name for themselves. They have done, but not in a good way. Go away.
This has got to be the most pointless article I have seen on this website. It's got nothing to do with Watford, is based on subjective clap trap and is just a forum for some second rate journalist to try and make a name for themselves. They have done, but not in a good way. Go away. Hornet Cornet
  • Score: 3

12:53pm Thu 21 Aug 14

Harry's Bar says...

Hornet Cornet wrote:
This has got to be the most pointless article I have seen on this website. It's got nothing to do with Watford, is based on subjective clap trap and is just a forum for some second rate journalist to try and make a name for themselves. They have done, but not in a good way. Go away.
Careful Cornet, this is Oliver Phillips you're talking about. They might delete this post, like they did your poem the other day.
[quote][p][bold]Hornet Cornet[/bold] wrote: This has got to be the most pointless article I have seen on this website. It's got nothing to do with Watford, is based on subjective clap trap and is just a forum for some second rate journalist to try and make a name for themselves. They have done, but not in a good way. Go away.[/p][/quote]Careful Cornet, this is Oliver Phillips you're talking about. They might delete this post, like they did your poem the other day. Harry's Bar
  • Score: 2

4:56pm Thu 21 Aug 14

lennyj says...

I think Ollie Phillips has acheived at least part of the objective when setting out to write this article - namely he has got reactions from people and provoked debate.
I think Ollie Phillips has acheived at least part of the objective when setting out to write this article - namely he has got reactions from people and provoked debate. lennyj
  • Score: 0

5:04pm Thu 21 Aug 14

gloryhornet4 says...

Rearrange these words into a well known phrase.

toss could not give a I
Rearrange these words into a well known phrase. toss could not give a I gloryhornet4
  • Score: 0

8:02pm Thu 21 Aug 14

itsafamilyclub!!! says...

I think before the time of the Watford Observer being a well read website rather than just a paper coming out on a Friday, Mr Phillips was probably told that people liked his boring arrogant self indulged articles...
I think before the time of the Watford Observer being a well read website rather than just a paper coming out on a Friday, Mr Phillips was probably told that people liked his boring arrogant self indulged articles... itsafamilyclub!!!
  • Score: 1

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