The biter bit. But scarcely hard enough by pusillanimous Liverpool. One feels, after this second mordant episode in the contradictory career of Luis Suarez, whose first such offence took place when at Ajax and gained him a seven match ban, that he might always be given a shirt bearing the Dickensian legend, Beware Of Him He Bites.
Already Suarez has served an eight-match ban for racism, with the FA plainly keen to keep in step with the current trend to Political Correctness Suarez’s insult to Patrice Evra was beyond doubt deplorable, but it inflicted no physical harm.
Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic has generally shrugged off the effects of Suarez’s latest bite, but one recalls the saying, Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. Meaning that if a racist insult demands an eight-match ban, then biting an opponent arguably demands still more.
It’s sad that so hugely gifted a footballer as Suarez unquestionably among the best in the world and in the great Uruguayan tradition, going back to the 1920s, Olympic dominance, and the winning of the first ever World Cup.
Yet there is beyond doubt a dark side to his character. The Ghanaians will surely never forget or forgive him for not only punching out a ball which would have given them that 2010 World Cup victory, but, having been expelled, celebrating from the sideline when Ghana missed the resulting penalty.
It was perhaps to be expected that Liverpool would behave as they have without dignity, style or common decency. They know to do them justice that were they to put Suarez on the market he would be snapped up at once by one of any number of rival clubs here or abroad.
But the statement itself by the unimpressive Ian Ayre (He’s everything we’d want in a striker”) was evasive and ambiguous. Shades of the club’s initial intransigent reaction when Suarez was accused of insulting Evra.
Should John Terry have shaken hands with FA leader David Bernstein rather than blank him at that recent Chelsea ceremony? It is easy enough to understand Terry’s hostility.
Bernstein arguably was far too quick off the mark to deprive Terry of the England captaincy before he had even appeared in the Westminster magistrates’ court to answer accusation of racism towards Anton Ferdinand.
A case, let it be remembered, which resulted in a verdict which had it been in Scotland would probably have been not proved. The FA then took up the case themselves, found Terry guilty and punished him in consequence though here again the legalities of the affair were unsatisfactory.
Until quite recently, FA rules obliged it to accept any verdict emitted by a law court. This is not to portray Terry as a wronged innocent; far from it. Yet remember that when the original complaint of racism was made by an off duty policeman watching that QPR match on television, and that the police were actually prepared to let the FA handle it first, it all in retrospect seems strangely unsatisfactory. And whatever Terry’s sometimes-controversial career, it’s still a pity that he should have pulled out of England’s games.
FIFA, alas, is still dodging the column, diluting any plans to investigate and stamp out endemic corruption. Hardly surprising that Alexandra Wrage, President of TRACE, concerned with international compliance, has scathingly left an advisory panel supposed to guide Blatter (what a hope) in implementing reforms.
FIFA, she said, “remains the closed society that fuelled its problems to begin with.” She might in her anger just as well have said that the sun sets in the West.
FIFA is surely as irredeemable as Blatter himself but there are no signs that under Platini (though untainted by corruption) things could get any better.