Thursday 25 April 2013

The professional footballer Luis Suarez recently bit a fellow player during the course of a premier league game. This has led to some people overreacting to this action – turns out overrecting to humans biting one another is a thing. The Olympian Laura Trott, via Twitter,  suggested the dentally challenged Uruguayan should be banned for life. I think it is fair to describe this as an overreaction.

Suarez has admitted that he did it, so there is no denying the act took place. I am just struggling to get wound up by the whole thing. As a supporter of the newly-crowned Premier League champions Manchester United I might be expected to be calling for the death penalty for Suarez (there is a rich history of socio-geographical rivalry between the teams).

I don’t know if I am being sensible about it or I am just naturally drawn to the opposite of popular opinion. A former leading football administrator, speaking on Talksport, said the offence was worse because of the shadows of the death of a Hillsborough campaigner and the recent terrorism in Boston. If you agree with that then you need to have a word with yourself. Surely these things put a silly incident in a football game into perspective rather than imbue the event with any exaggerated disrespect.

I have definitely had problems with things Mr Suarez has done in the past. But, I’m pretty open to people being forgiven for things they do in the heat of the moment. He did a silly thing. The problem is trying to make the point that it’s all getting a bit OTT while talking about an adult biting another adult human.

Sure, I could get philosophical about it and say if instead of another human footballer he had bitten an apple then no-one would be making quite the fuss, but I fear people would suggest I was being silly. No-one knows the definitive truth though – maybe the bitten player, Branislav Ivanovic, had smeared his arm with the juices of Suarez’ favourite food. It probably didn’t happen but it has saddened me – almost to tears – that no-one has verified this.

Back to my point, it is really hard to make a logical counterpoint when you have to say “he bit him” somewhere in the mix. Perhaps this means that there isn’t a decent counterpoint. The punishment dealt has been a ban of ten games. How does one start to get their head around the equation that balances how many appearances in a football game equates to appropriate punishment for biting someone? Would it be worse if the bit had drawn blood? Would it have been less if the biter had no teeth?

As someone who has consistently put football at the centre of his universe for 30 years it is sometimes easy to see how people can find elements trivial.

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