Luis Suarez is crazy.
I think we can all agree that with his latest biting incident (of THREE biting incidents) that Luis Suarez is in desperate need of help. There are few things in life as animalistic and barbaric as biting an opponent. I think spitting is up there as well, but there is something about biting that is just bizarre and brutal. There are few things in life that evoke such vivid mental images of torture, horror and mindless rage as sinking your teeth into another human being.
But I want to back away from the fervent flurry of words that have erupted all over the internet and media in this latest episode of "Suarez bites a defender". Also, I want to do my best to avoid puns. I have heard or read so many, they're just simply not funny anymore. Quotes about Suarez's hunger, or a defense he could really "sink his teeth into" or how Uruguay's attack is "toothless" without Suarez, were clever at first but are now just tripe. No thanks. He needs help, it's disgusting and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
That was as close as I am going to get. Moving on now.
Since Suarez's villainous history is well documented between his first handball at his first World Cup, his first biting incident in the Netherlands, his racial abuse of Patrice Evra, his second biting incident with Branislav Ivanovich, his attempt to force a move from Liverpool after they stood by him through his many suspensions, and now his most recent incident biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, I'm not going to go into much background here on those things. Instead I am going to focus on the debate from Liverpool's perspective. Regardless of how you look at this, one thing is certain:
Liverpool are likely set to lose big as a result of Suarez's actions.
I read today that King Kenny Dalglish said: "It is my belief that when you bring a player to a football club, he becomes your responsibility. You don't just turn your back on a player because he has done something wrong."
In the same article (which you can read here), FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valke said: "It is not Liverpool who have been punished. It is the player who has been punished. They took into account the past behavior of Luis Suarez. They made a decision based on the evidence of what Luis Suarez has done."
While I applaud Dalglish's attempts to put a positive spin on things and stand by the man he is credited with bringing to Anfield, I think the time is over for Liverpool to do their best to spin the PR in a positive light. Dalglish himself is responsible for spoiling some of Liverpool's reputation a few years back when he 'encouraged' his team to wear those ill-fated "Support Suarez" shirts after the FA banned him for racially abusing Patrice Evra. While both sides had valid points in the debate, the facts were CLEARLY in evidence that Suarez had SPOKEN racial insults. The fact that Suarez did not believe them to be insulting is irrelevant. When the team came out wearing those shirts, they did not look to be standing by their man, but rather came across as a rich organization run by a rich white man, coached by a rich white man, giving the big "Middle Finger" to the FA for trying to rid the game of racism.
And while Mr. Valke is certainly entitled to his own opinion, banning a player for domestic games, and all stadium and football related activities for 4 months, including his club's Champions League group matches, and domestic and cup matches, for an offense he committed while on INTERNATIONAL duty and not representing his club team, can be described as nothing BUT punishing Liverpool.
It is Liverpool the organization who stand to lose in this.
For a moment, let's set aside the black and white bias of most of the fans on the inner webs right now. Depending on their perspective and which axe you choose to grind it sounds to most people like the situation is simple. If you're a die hard Liverpool fan, the club is being hard done by, and Suarez should be banned from international duty only. If you hate Liverpool, then Suarez should be thrown in jail in the deepest darkest pit imaginable. If you hate player wages, he should work without pay for a year and all of his exorbitant wages given to charities to help hungry kittens and butterfly preservations. If you hate soccer, this is just one other reason why these animals should all be rounded up and forced to play a real sport like badminton or croquet.
But the situation is not that easy, and no matter how moral purists (which always seems based on the moral relativity of the individual speaking and nothing concrete), it is not as simple as black and white.
There is a whole lot of gray here.
Suarez is set to be banned for 9 international games. Seems harsh, but given his previous crimes, not illogical. But the average international player only makes about $34,000 or so for playing for his country. So it's certainly no sweat off Suarez's back to miss out on that check. Uruguay is simply going to pay someone else for their services. Money won't go to Suarez and will go to someone else instead. Sure they will be without their best player, but beyond this World Cup, they won't miss anything else major as a result. It's a slap on the wrist for them.
His fine of 100K Swiss francs, is also not much. Given the fact that he makes approximately 250K british pounds a week while playing, it's not even half a week's worth of his wages. During his suspension he gets to do whatever he wants. Hang out at home, go on vacation to the beach, eat doughnuts, club baby seals, whatever he does for fun.
However he will miss a MINIMUM of 12 matches for Liverpool including all of the teams lucrative pre-season tour of the US. But here is probably the biggest rub for Liverpool:
Suarez is still going to get paid.
Because of the strict rules and the PFA (Pro Footballers Association - IE UNION) regulations, Suarez has a maximum amount of money he can be penalized when not playing for the team for any reason. Upon last hearing it was about 6,000 pounds. That's right.
So Liverpool have to pay their highest earner while he does not appear at games, cannot train with the team, cannot even show up to work.
On top of that, their best player will miss nearly their entire group stage campaign, and the team is already considered a prime candidate for the "Group of Death" draw. Not to mention the 9 domestic games he will be banned.
So what is Liverpool to do?
Should they stick by their player, in the hopes that Brendan Rogers and his management staff can perform another miracle and attempt to change Suarez's public perception yet again while challenging for titles and cups, Liverpool's already tarnished reputation will suffer all the more by Suarez's mere presence. The club will be seen as just riding out another villainous horse to the races, no matter how despicable he is for the sake of making a buck, winning a cup, selling a shirt or scoring a goal. They will be seen as keeping on their payroll a person of such dark soulless quality that even Ashley Cole would be considered a better option in a red shirt.
Should they sell their prized asset, they will likely now be selling him for less than his actual worth because whichever team takes him on, will have to pay his massive wages while he serves his ban. Rumor has it, Barcelona and Liverpool have already agreed to a fee believed to be around 63 million Euros, which if it is true, means Liverpool are selling their prized asset for 17 Million less than his value prior to the World Cup. Many fans will be reluctant to see a player of his quality go without getting top dollar for his transfer.
Prior to the World Cup bite, Suarez was the hottest ticket on the transfer market. After a year that had seen him change his public perception from a soulless creep into that of a quiet, hard working player who did his best to stay out of the papers, he managed to win the three highest player awards in the Premier League, and split the worldwide Golden Boot with Christiano Ronaldo. Considering Gareth Bale set a world record transfer fee last year with his paltry accomplishments, Suarez was poised to blow it all away this summer.
I had a feeling at the close of the season that Suarez was not going to be sticking around. Especially if Real Madrid or even better Barcelona came calling. Even with all of Liverpool's vast improvements, he is still likely too good for the team, and as he is approaching the apex of his career, a big money move to one of the few teams larger than Liverpool was logical. Liverpool will be long shots at best to move beyond the group stages of the Champions League this year, and another title run like last year is unlikely. Selling Suarez would make him happy playing for one of the true contenders on the world stage, it would make Liverpool truckloads of money to reinvest in the team after all the losses they took from selling Torres, and giving that money to Dalglish. Lastly for a team like Barcelona, they would be buying a guy who had appeared to put all the demons to rest in his past, and was at the peak of his abilities, ready to help push them back into the race in their domestic league, and Champions League challenge.
All Suarez had to do was make through the World Cup without biting anyone.
And now, with one fell chomp (ok, that was my last - I promise) Barcelona are in the drivers seat in negotiations, with his resale value likely having plummeted to the floor. It would appear now, that Liverpool need Barcelona much more than the other way around, which was not the case prior to the Uruguay vs. Italy match. That's assuming of course that Barcelona are even still interested. Do they want to take on a player who is now certain to tarnish their own reputation?
And so as a result of Suarez's latest transgression, Liverpool are set to lose big no matter what they do. But they are not the biggest losers of all in all of this. Remember Suarez has two children who will grow up in a world where information moves faster than word of mouth and nothing ever disappears once it's on the internet. They will grow up always cloaked in their father's dark shadow, mocked by school children, whispered about by teachers and neighbors, hounded by the media, the children of a man who was world renowned for his talent with a soccer ball, but a reputation for acting like a rabid animal on the field.
Don't even get me started on what his kids are going to lose as a result of this.