Friday, January 18, 2013

Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez has proven to be one of the most controversial characters in recent Premiership history. He came with a reputation for poor sportsmanship and behaviour coupled with fantastic ability and so it has proven.

There is little doubt that Suarez suffers due to his reputation and there is also no question that foreign players in England are subjected to different treatment due to stereotyping and prejudiced preconceptions.

The likes of Michael Owen and David Beckham have dived just plenty during their careers yet have never been tarred with a similar brush. Gareth Bale has been going down like a sack of potatoes regularly yet is merely revered for his wonderful attacking play.

There was no clamour for the blood of Roy Carroll in the way that Suarez receives criticism when he so blatantly acted as if the ball had not crossed the line all those years ago against Spurs.

In the same way it is perfectly acceptable to cheat in British football as long as it means booting people up in the air. Players such as Roy Keane, Vinnie Jones, Dennis Wise and Graeme Souness have gone in to games with the purpose of badly hurting other players and potentially destroying the careers of their fellow professionals.

Those acts of violence are deemed acceptable - in fact revelled in by many - yet a hand ball or a dive is seen as the most heinous of crimes. So where lies the rub?

This all comes in the age of 'professionalism', win at all costs unless of course you are foreign and certainly from specific parts of the globe.

There is little doubt however that certain players do little to help themselves. Suarez's defence over the Patrice Evra incident in that it was a 'cultural issue' belied either an arrogance or an ignorance that a man in his public position should not be carrying.

The writer of this blog is an expat himself and knows that he and other expats can be as guilty as anyone for failing to integrate or in some cases even caring to do so. The difference however is that he and they are not necessarily all over the front and back pages of the newspapers nor carrying out their employment duties in front of millions.

Carlos Tevez's on field behaviour has been bad enough, but off the field his repeated motoring offences offering a complete disregard for the law - whilst offering up the language barrier as an excuse - belies an expat mentality coupled with the arrogance of a Premiership footballer that earns quarter of a million pounds a week. Both factors mean to his mind he is above the law.

Tevez has been in the UK over six years yet still cannot understand a speeding offence notice nor speak enough English to communicate in any way effectively. Brits abroad are more culpable than most for not speaking other languages but bearing in mind the need for communication on the pitch and the stratospheric wages he earns, one could reasonably expect Tevez to learn the language even if it is purely out of respect for the fans in doing his job to the best of his abilities.

Whilst this maybe sounds off topic with regard to the subject of Suarez's diving, it is this kind of behaviour that reinforces the image and stereotype of 'Johnny Foreigner' that the press so greedily latches on to.

It is no matter that John Terry can be found guilty of racism on the pitch and all manner of atrocious behaviour off it. It also does not matter that players such as Jonathan Woodgate, Lee Bowyer, Tony Adams, Joey Barton, Jermaine Pennant and Paul Gascgoine to name such a few can engage in such unsavoury off field behaviour. The reality is that the foreign player has to be doing things better than the domestic version.

Is Luis Suarez a cheat? Yes he is but no more so than Gareth Bale or Roy Carroll or Vinnie Jones. Taking the issue of racism and the horrendous way he and Liverpool handled the aftermath as a separate issue, there is no question that Luis Suarez should be treated equally with his peers over the issue of diving or any other form of on field cheating. A healthy dose of British xenophobia however seems to render that an unlikely outcome - No Nonsense.