Football, the so-called beautiful game, was never less lovely than Sunday during a game between Liverpool and Chelsea, in the U.K. A biting incident, player on player, marred the game. Yes, a biting incident.
Uruguayan Luis Suarez, 26, star player for Liverpool, appeared to bite Branislav Ivanovic, a Chelsea player. Those watching the instant replays at home could see all too easily that Suarez was guilty as charged and had bitten Branislav on his upper arm. The referee however took no action, presumably as neither he nor his linesmen had observed the incident.
Strangely the biting incident almost passed unnoticed by those attending the match and match officials but there was an understandable fall-out. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, interviewed following the match, said he would watch the footage before commenting on the alleged incident.
It did not take long for Suarez to offer an apology and Rodgers to tell the media the incident was unacceptable. This of course means the incident was a done deed and no longer alleged.
According to Sky News “In a later Twitter message, Suarez said he had spoken to Ivanovic and his apology had been accepted. He wrote: "I've just spoken to Ivanovic on the phone and I could apologize directly to him. Thanks for accepting." “A Chelsea spokesman said: "Luis Suarez called Branislav Ivanovic this evening. Branislav appreciated the call and his apology”."
Monday there are reports that Liverpool football club has offered Suarez anger management counselling. The F.A., football association, has not announced its response to the “bite”. It could ban Suarez for any number of games or even penalize Liverpool turning yesterday’s draw into a defeat.
Police are looking at the footage today. Biting victim, Ivanovic, could make a complaint to the police or they may choose to act independently. Suarez’ actions were assault.
In an ironic, much publicized twist of events, Suarez gained a new Twitter follower late Sunday, former boxer and known biter Mike Tyson.
Real-time footage, available for referees during a football match, is long overdue. Changes are underway and cannot be implemented quickly enough. If the referee had been able to view the incident during the game Suarez would have received a red-card and been unceremoniously sent-off. This would have left Liverpool playing with 10 men, one man down. Would the game still have ended in a draw? Doubtful, I feel.
Suarez is a tremendous player but does that give him a carte blanche to behave badly? No it does not. Football authorities must take action. The anger management classes could be a start but he needs to learn some basic human qualities too. He acted like an animal and it is not his first biting incident.
“Suárez was handed a seven-match ban by the Dutch FA and fined by his club for biting the PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal during an Eredivisie match”. The Guardian report includes ten controversial incidents involving Suarez.
As sports' commentators make excuses for Suarez and play down the incident, playing up his football skills, they are taking the wrong approach.
Suarez brings football into disrepute; he lets himself, his team and the game down. How much longer will football officials pander to the likes of Suarez.
Is it going to take a serious assault for them to act?
Liverpool have fined Suarez. He has asked that the money be donated to the Hillsborough Family Support Group. Suarez announced his fine on Twitter saying "For my unacceptable behavior yesterday the club has fined me today. "I have asked the club to donate the money to the Hillsborough Family Support Group for the inconvenience I have created to the Liverpool fans and to Ivanovic."
Sporting Life reports "Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre told the club's official website: "It affects his future in the sense that we have to work with him on his discipline - but Luis is a very important player to the club. He's a very popular player with his team-mates. As we keep saying, he signed a new four-year contract last summer and we'd all love to see him here throughout that contract. "He's a fantastic player, top scorer and everything we'd want in a striker, so there's no change there."
That may be, but will be prove too hot to handle?
What could be most damaging to Suarez is action by the F.A. They have charged Suarez with violent conduct. Suarez has a day to respond. The F.A. have indicated that a usual punishment of a three-match ban will not be enough this time. Liverpool F.C. refuse to say how large or small the fine was. U.K. Prime Minster David Cameron has weighed in to the row demanding that the F.A. make an example of Suarez reported the Guardian.
Wednesday the F.A announced its punishment, a 10-match ban. In a statement the F.A. said "A three-person independent regulatory commission today upheld the FA's claim that a suspension of three matches was clearly insufficient and the player will serve a further seven first-team matches in addition to the standard three. The suspension begins with immediate effect.
"The Liverpool forward had accepted a charge of violent conduct but had denied the FA's claim that the standard three-match sanction was insufficient for the offence. "The incident was not seen by the match officials and has therefore been retrospectively reviewed".
Liverpool football club are disapointed with the decision. Thursday they will see read the reasoning behind the lengthy ban and Suarez has until Friday noon to appeal. If the decision stands Suarez will miss the last four games of this season and the first six of 2013-14.
Was the 10-match ban too harsh? Not in my opinion.