The suspension that FIFA handed out to Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez was too lenient.
Suarez has been banned for nine competitive fixtures for the Uruguayan national team and he has also been banned for another four months from any type of football activity. FIFA also gave Suarez a fine of 100,000 Swiss Francs (AU$118,763.90).
It is a very soft punishment by FIFA after he had bitten opposition defender Giorgio Chiellini in Uruguay’s 1-0 win against Italy at the World Cup.
This is not a new thing for Suarez because he has committed this offence on two previous occasions at club level.
In 2010, he had bitten PSV Eindhoven midfield Otman Bakkal when he was an Ajax player. The KNVB suspended Suarez for seven Dutch Eredivisie matches and he was labelled by the Dutch press as “The Cannibal of Ajax”.
Last year Suarez had bitten Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in an English Premier League match and he was suspended for 10 matches by the FA.
Before the sentence was handed down, there were reports that said Suarez was going to be banned for two years for biting Chiellini.
A lengthy suspension like that would have been appropriate because it would mean that FIFA would be taking a real stand against this sort of behaviour.
FIFA likes to promote “fair play” and place great emphasis on it. A two-year suspension for Suarez would have been FIFA’s way of saying that the concept of fair play is something it takes very seriously and that the bite on Chiellini is the antithesis of fair play.
Sports athletes are meant to be role models for young children and there is nothing conventional or saintly about the way Suarez acts. His actions send a wrong message to children worldwide.
Italian kids could assume that it is a common act for opposition players to bite them. Uruguayan kids could believe that biting an opponent is OK as long as it helps your team to win.
Then there are the developing nations in Africa and Asia who are still trying to learn more about the game. If a child from one of those continents saw what Suarez did, he/she could think that it is just a part of the game.
Biting offences aren’t the only wrongful deeds that Suarez has committed. He was sent-off in the 2010 World Cup Uruguay v Ghana quarter-final for saving a shot like a goalkeeper on the goal-line. Asamoah Gyan missed the resultant penalty in extra time and the Celeste won the game on penalties.
He was suspended for eight EPL games after racially abusing Manchester United’s French defender Patrice Evra and he was also suspended for one match after sticking his rude finger up at Fulham fans.
It is disappointing to see that someone as talented as Suarez needs to resort to this kind of behaviour. He is a match-winner thanks to his prolific goalscoring but he has that “win at all costs” mentality too.
Regardless of how talented a player is, he should not commit acts of cynicism or anything that is downright despicable.
FIFA should have taken a stand against Suarez so he could stop committing such distasteful acts on the football pitch. A nine-match suspension is soft.