What struck me most about Luis Suarez’ (UPDATE: Official.) chomp down on Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini was the Uruguayan’s immediate reaction — hands grasping at his bear-trap mouth, feigning pain, coupled with a subtle a look of dreaded realization.
The teeth grab felt like the predictable response of a man seeking to deflect guilt. The look of disbelief and misgiving, however, spoke of a man surprised by his own actions.
He will say otherwise. His team will say otherwise. Heck, all of Uruguay will say otherwise. But the director of the live production caught the moment perfectly. The proof was in the pudding and in Suarez’ case, the pudding was all over his face.
Simply stated, Luis Suarez is a biter. Why, exactly? It’s impossible to say without a psychiatric evaluation but when an adult bites three opponents in the last four years clearly that man is, at his very core, a biter. No clearer way to put it.
Admittedly, I, too, was once a biter. Of course, that was when I was two years old and my brother, three years my elder, would pick on me. ‘A defense mechanism’, my Mom would laugh years later when the topic would come up over the odd holiday dinner. ‘And a darn effective one,’ she’d note.
Damn skippy it was. But like most biters, I outgrew the move within a year or two before venturing on to other forms of self-defense like eye-poking, pinching and hair-pulling.
What can I say? I was a scrappy kid. But Suarez is a man, a man with responsibilities to himself, his family and his fans across the globe. Which is why this whole situation is so sad. The dude needs help.
Over my time as a student of the game I’ve read and listened to hundreds of hours of Suarez quotes – everything from pre-match sound to post-match pressers to interviews with that adorable Kop Kid, Finn, who interviews Liverpool players from time to time and, without fail, my reaction is always the same — Suarez comes off as an affable guy saddled with demons that he’s legitimately struggling to shed.
Today, he failed to do so and now it’s up to FIFA to impose a penalty on the striker that will work. A seven-match ban at Ajax in 2010 didn’t work. A 10-match ban at Liverpool in 2013 didn’t work. Here, FIFA needs to act quickly and with conviction.
The letter of the law allows for up to 24 matches but for me 15 matches, a fine of somewhere around $500k and, most importantly, an extensive treatment program should just about do it. It’s hard time one of, if not the best pure striker in the game gets the proper help he requires.