Of late, I have been reading articles by so called ‘neutral’ sport journalists vilifying Luis Suarez and what they perceive as his tendency to go down too easily. Over the weekend, Suarez was subjected to ‘boos’ from the away supporters every time he touched the ball. We all know the racism charge he is facing as well as the charge for showing the Fulham fans the middle finger. Has Suarez become the most hated player in the premier league? I believe he is certainly in the top five, and I do not think it is fair. Luis Suarez does go down a lot, but no more than any other player in the world. There is no right for him to be singled out. Personally, as a former defender who moulded my game on the aggressive tackling of Psycho, Vinnie Jones, Tony Adam, Graham Souness etc, I am annoyed and disgusted when is see players spending more time crawling on the floor that a toddler. It is not good for the game. The old term ‘sportsmanship’ is replaced by the term ‘gamesmanship’ (Gamesmanship- adjective. The intent to try and deceive the referee. A nice way of saying trying to cheat)
Does Luis Suarez use ‘gamesmanship’ – yes. Do I like it- no. Do I approve- Definitely! If every other player in the world is trying to con the referee, then why not we? I watched the Clasico between Real and Barca. Sergio Ramos tapped Alexis Sanchez on the heel, only for the Chilean to throw himself to the floor and roll around like he was demonstrating the stop-drop-roll technique to put out burning clothes. It was embarrassing. But more upsetting for me was the penalty Tottenham won on Sunday. Modric did not go down easily. He dived. The defender pulled his foot away before contact was made and he dived as if competing with Seb Larson from two weeks ago in distance and style. Yet not much condemnation about it. Not even Christiano “I am on my back more times that a worker in the Amsterdam Red light district” Ronaldo received as much criticism as our Luis Suarez. Didier Drogba is another. So why Suarez? Is it because he is wearing the 7 of Liverpool and not the 7 of United? Luis Suarez is the most exciting player in the EPL in my opinion (only Silva and Aguero come close). He is skilful, aggressive and passionate. I became a fan of Suarez the day he became a villain to many. The semi finals of the World Cup when he handled the ball on the line, preventing Gyan from scoring and Ghana entering the semi-finals. While others cursed him around me, I praised his action. Was it cheating? Yes it was, and he was red carded for it. But what I saw was a player putting the interests of his team ahead of his own. He knew he would see red and miss the semi final and perhaps the final if he did it. He did it anyway. He sacrificed his personal glory for his team. That is something I respect and something I want from a player pulling on the Red Shirt of Liverpool.
Again, do not assume that I am encouraging ‘gamesmanship.’ That is not the case at all. What I am saying is that if it is being done by almost every player in world football, then why not by us? I want to stop the cheating-period and believe that the FA should review every match and penalise players who have conned or attempted to con the ref. This is the only way to stop it. But until then, why is Luis Suarez being targeted? I think his critics should have a coke and a smile and hold their tongue.