Liverpool: Make An Example Of Suarez, Prove He's Not Bigger Than The Club
Did you ever get in to so much trouble at school that your teachers actually felt it necessary to get your parents involved? If you didn’t, you’ll probably know somebody that once had. What often happened in such cases was that the children who came from poorly parented households would often reoffend, safe in the knowledge that nothing about their home life would change.
The kids that learnt from their mistakes, however, tended to actually get a bigger punishment at home than the school could hand out to them. It’s simple really, far from rocket science, and a lesson we all learn at one stage in our life or another: deviance results in punishment, and to avoid punishment, one must avoid being deviant.
The reason behind such difference in approach boils down to how the parents in question seek to be perceived by those in contact with their child - how many times have you seen a kid misbehaving and immediately, perhaps subconsciously, cast aspersions on the type of family they’ve come from? Rarely are deviants looked at insularly, and those closest to them are also asked questions of.
In the much discussed case of Luis Suárez then, it’s abundantly clear from which type of background he’s from - and that comment isn’t aimed at his family in the slightest, but more his parent club and international football association. By failing to condemn Suárez, they’ve effectively martyred him, and re-entered in to a viscous circle we’ve seen numerous times before, in which the offender fails to learn from his mistake.
Liverpool have now thrice been brought in to disrepute through the actions of one man alone and their once proud name dragged through the mud, labelled guilty by association. When their player was found guilty of racially abusing another human being, they donned t-shirts in support of him. When he bit a player for what was then the second time in his career and was handed another lengthy ban, he had given Liverpool a choice to make regarding his immediate future in their colours.
What remains begrudgingly undeniable when discussing Suárez as just a footballer is how clearly talented he is. Liverpool came within touching distance of a league title powered by his relentless goalscoring, and England were undone twice at the World Cup in a must-win game by his prowess in front of goal. A cripplingly flawed genius, Liverpool decided his ability alone was enough for them to accept his unfortunate penchant for gross misconduct and hand him a contract extension to remain at the club.
This is, unsurprisingly, where most people’s discomfort with the situation intersects. To refer back to the loose analogy above, Liverpool - and to a less surprising extent the Uruguayan FA - haven’t done anywhere close to enough to attempt to either reprimand or even rehabilitate the man that has repeatedly brought in to question the judgement of those that preside over him.
When time came for Liverpool to release their review of how their players had performed that day in the World Cup on their official website, no mention of Suárez having bitten an opponent was even alluded to. When they finally released a statement, it was only to say that there would be no official statement at this point in time.
The only way for Liverpool to definitively save face strikes me as being overwhelmingly simple: punish the player representing you as a club on the world stage for being a deviant, and make it abundantly clear that in no way do Liverpool either condone or support his actions. Even if behind closed doors Liverpool make it clear to Suárez that this gesture is merely spin, they have to be at the very least being seen to want to distance themselves from the actions of their player.
Fine and ban him for several games additionally to what FIFA have handed out and suddenly the attitude of disgust to which people now increasingly default to when discussing Liverpool’s relationship with Suárez will change. If, unthinkably, Liverpool are seen to be supporting, and by extension, condoning and enabling the actions of their player for a third time, there is no chance that their judgement won’t again be widely scrutinised, and more worryingly, Suárez will again adopt the mentality of a victim and fail to recognise and learn from his own mistake.
The time has, yet again, come for Liverpool to decide what is more important to them: Suárez as a playing asset, or their wider integrity as a football club. The easy way out, of course, would be for Liverpool to merely sell him to the highest bidder, and quietly wash their hands of a man who may have been more trouble than what he’s worth. However, that too has its limitations, and most will look at the decision to brush the saga under the carpet in the most public way possible as cowardice and an implicit admission of guilt.
The best case scenario would be for the club to sack the player, tear up his contract and perform a thorough character assassination in order to express just how disappointed they are by being let down again by somebody they had previously publicly supported - but this is modern football of course, and morals have unfortunately become a foreign concept.
Suárez may not - despite the diagnosis of millions of amateur psychologists on twitter - be ‘beyond help’, but what remains abundantly clear is that this transgression cannot be dealt with in the same manner as his previous ones have. It’s time for Liverpool to finally take ownership of the situation, and reaffirm without doubt that no one man is bigger than the club - after all, we all know what will happen again if they fail to, don’t we?