Suarez Storm Exposes Depths of Football’s Hypocrisy – by Rob Atkinson


Suárez - the eye-teeth have it

Suárez – the eye-teeth have it

As a long-suffering fan of Leeds United Football Club, I’m no stranger to cant and hypocrisy as delivered by some of the mealy-mouthed “Guardians of the Good Name of Football” types, who infest the media to sickening effect. My club much more than most has been the target and victim of some of these holier-than-thou merchants over the years, the kind of people who will loudly condemn a Revie, a Bremner or a Bowyer whilst turning a conveniently blind eye to the peccadilloes of a Georgie Best, a Saint Bobby Charlton or a Royston Keane. It’s all part of the United-supporting experience, but no less nauseating for that. As an experienced and cynical White, you tend to sigh, roll your eyes and reflect upon what unctuous pillocks some people are. It’s a Leeds thing – but it manifests itself more broadly than that sometimes. The few hours since the Uruguay v Italy World Cup game are ample proof of this.

This short lapse of time, since Luis Suárez hurled himself once more into the teeth of a storm of public disapproval and disgust, has been a veritable feast, a feeding frenzy for saintly hypocrites everywhere. It shows no sign of abating; those who seek the moral high ground can scent the blood of a perennial target – and this time, they mean to get him. Prominent among these people, working himself up into a froth of indignant condemnation, is ITV’s own cabbage-patch doll tribute, Adrian Chiles. The man who is to bone structure what Wayne Rooney is to flower power coiffure, seems to be in the process of establishing himself as prat-in-chief among the sorry ranks of football presenters. Nothing is too trivial, no issue too banal that we’ll fail to hear those lugubriously annoying Midlands tones as Chiles essays another laboriously-crafted shaft of wit – pardon the unintentional spoonerism there.

Sitting alongside Chiles, as often as not, wearing his trademark glower in the hope that one or other of his colleagues will smilingly point out just how damned hard he is, will be Roy Keane – ex-footballer and dispenser of summary justice as defined by, erm, Roy Keane.  The Chiles/Keane axis can be a little uncomfortable to watch for anyone whose sensitivities include the thorny issue of unrequited love.  Chiles so openly slavers over the former Man U thug that you begin to worry about the absorbent capacity of his tie. It’s a one-sided bromance that makes you, as an onlooker, wince with pain as the hapless and cushion-faced anchorman makes cow’s eyes at the ex-footballer, who affords him only a sneer and another glower from under those knitted brows by way of return.  It’s car-crash TV – you ache for the hopeless yearning of Chiles and you want to look away when you see the Celtic indifference displayed by the object of his adoration.  But there’s a horrid fascination about the scene, and we’re reminded uncomfortably of our own episodes of hero-worship in our callow and distant youth.  To see a grown man, even one as fatally foetal as Chiles, going through such adolescent love pangs is at once repellent and riveting.

The irony is, of course, that part of Chiles’ remit is to jump aboard the nationally-sponsored anti-Suárez bandwagon.  It’s something he does eagerly enough; clearly he feels himself to cut something of a dash while he’s verbally pulling to pieces such a conveniently distant target.  After all, he can’t see himself in a mirror when he’s in mid-rant.  The reason that Chiles is such a case in point is that, during infrequent pauses for breath as he lambastes his latest absent target, he will glance adoringly yet again at Mr Keane, the urgent desire for approval writ large across his Pilsbury Doughman features.  Doesn’t it strike you that there’s something incongruous about all of this?  Whatever the sins of the Uruguayan – does not the beloved Roy have a rap sheet just as long and twice as disgusting?

I’m not expecting too much agreement here – after all, anti-Suárez sentiments have been abroad for a good while, and won’t have been ameliorated by his brace of goals against Engerland last week.  But really – is the little Liverpool genius that much more to be condemned than, for instance, Keane – a man receipted and filed for an arrogant thug and a brazen coward?

Neither is this blog looking to defend Luis Suárez, not on the substantive issue of this compulsion of his to sink his teeth into folk, anyway.  In the eyes of Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything, he is guilty beyond doubt of immense stupidity – he is in fact a repeat offender in that respect. There’s something wrong there, something fundamentally at fault under the bonnet.  It seems that such fatal flaws often go hand-in-hand with the kind of genius which blesses Suárez – similar examples are not hard to think of.  Gascoigne, Best, Cantona.  They all, to a greater or lesser degree, had and have a screw loose.  The misfortune of Suárez is that he’s a serial recidivist, someone who seemingly can’t avoid re-offending, with the same modus operandi cropping up time and time again.

This blog will also freely concede that biting is a disgusting offence against the laws of the game and also against natural decency – on an old-fashioned level, it’s simply not the way a chap goes about sorting out his differences with another chap.  It’s not cricket; not the done thing.  Perhaps things are different in Uruguay, perhaps this is just another of those unknown “cultural differences” as in the Patrice Evra “negrito” storm, something that football in this country, and the football press, have neither forgiven nor forgotten.  You don’t call a chap nasty names (especially when he plays for Man U) – and you don’t bite, inflicting your DNA upon some unwilling recipient.  It’s unmanly and possibly unhealthy.  Perhaps if the sins of Suárez were more manifestly British in character – perhaps something along the lines of the various acts perpetrated by Mr Keane in his time – then we’d more readily understand and forgive.  But, as they’re not – as they have this alien flavour to them, it’s all to easy to cast the foreigner as scapegoat, whilst dismissing more easily-understandable fouls and transgressions with a nod, a wink and a grin – Roy’s such a bad lad, a proper hard-man, tsk tsk – but really, you know, he’s one of us.  This nasty subtext of xenophobia underpins the differing ways in which the actions of Suárez and Keane are perceived, rationalised and – as the case may be – excused or condemned.

Don’t get me wrong.  I wouldn’t like to be trying to play football and then feel a set of teeth sinking into my shoulder.  I wouldn’t like it at all, and I doubt I’d have the restraint merely to whine at the referee if I were to be thus assailed. But ask me in the cold light of day whether I’d prefer that, or a calculated stamp intended to smash the knee of my weight-bearing leg – and I’d unhesitatingly plump for the Uruguayan’s top set every time.  A bite-mark heals a hell of a lot faster than ruptured ligaments.  And the fact is that Roy Keane – who carried out just such an assault on Alf-Inge Haaland, as all Leeds and Man City fans will remember – later acknowledged it as a coldly premeditated act, born of his anger at Haaland’s mocking him as he lay with a ruptured ligament of his own on the Elland Road turf in 1997.  That injury was sustained in the course of Keane trying to commit a foul; Haaland was innocent of any crime except the mouthful he gave to Keane, accusing him of feigning injury.  But Roy bore a grudge, Roy bided his time and Roy set out to end the career of Alf-Inge Haaland when they met in a Manchester derby four years later.  It was the act of a self-righteous, deluded coward; how Keane has this hard-man image utterly escapes me.  Another of his retaliatory acts was committed against that not-exactly-scary individual Jason McAteer, a player who would scarcely cause anyone to worry about the consequences of fouling him. But, in delivering a sly elbow to the face, Keane characteristically sneaked up from behind and then ran away – which neatly sums him up as the moral coward and fake hard-man he undoubtedly is.

So when we see the likes of Chiles having his empty-headed rant at the silly-boy actions of a firebrand and hair-trigger character like Luis Suárez – let’s not forget that one of his studio colleagues almost certainly has a hell of a lot more to answer for in terms of conduct unbecoming.  And yet, allowances were made for Keane throughout a career stained by many examples of petulant and vicious actions, with the man himself remaining arrogant, unrepentant, intent only on maintaining his illusory image as a tough guy.  As for Suárez, the press are even now engaged in talking up the length and severity of his punishment, as well as wondering excitedly whether or not any sanctions might spill over into Liverpool’s domestic campaign.  Let’s not forget that the Reds had to do without their Latin genius for the first few games of last season, courtesy of his last dental indiscretion.  It might even have made the difference by which they eventually lost the title – a high price to pay for proud and long-suffering fans. If the hypocrites have their way, then we will be denied the spectacle of one of the world’s very top players parading his genius – for that is what it is – not only for the remainder of the World Cup, but also well into the Premier League season yet to come.  The BBC are amazingly, ridiculously, mentioning a possible two year ban as I write. That would be a terrible tragedy, an injustice and a gross misreading of what is good for the game.

As I said earlier, genius is frequently accompanied by a lunatic fringe of unpredictably bizarre behaviour.  Genius is what Luis Suárez has, to a lavish degree.  He is one of the very few players for whom even today’s extortionate match ticket prices are well worth the investment.  Genius always deserves some latitude, some understanding of the nature of the beast.  Such is my assessment of the Suárez dilemma; genius has its prerogatives and will always be its own excuse.  By that reckoning, what possible excuse can there be for ersatz tough-guy and decided non-genius Royston Keane?  We’d better leave that to his besotted friend and colleague, hypocrite extraordinaire Adrian Chiles.

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29 responses to “Suarez Storm Exposes Depths of Football’s Hypocrisy – by Rob Atkinson

  1. I have always been very cynical about the authorities in charge of football. This extends from the very top to the on field officials. When the world cup is in south America it is even worse . Holland verses Argentina. There was so much bias for Argentina I found it unbelievable nothing is,ever done about it post match or any time. This world cup . Neymiar should have been sent off for two bookable offences , the second fowl was the most cynical. Uruguay Godin( I think that is name should have been sent off for the throat challenge on sterling, consequently he would not have been involved any further in the group stages. Neymiar would have suffered the same fate . This can completely change the whole out come of the tournament. These incidents are totally ignored for what ever reason, maybe the referees are just to scared. Unless they are given directives by Fifa.

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  2. Pioneercdj1

    Excellent article man! Perfect summation with an honest perspective.

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  3. Counte Of Monte Fisto

    Ever since Suarez ranted about his treatment in England after scoring against us in a world class performance (and making Rooney look what he is, a lazy fat no mark) I have been expecting some provocation from him.

    I think part of this is deliberate, do something crazy, English media go nuts et viola ready made excuse to demand a move to Barcelona as the sleighted party not greedy but look what theyt are saying about me.

    To me Suarez is the best player in the world right now, so much better than Neymar & in England only Aguiero comes close for my money. However Suarez is also a loose cannon & the co-incidences here are too much, Barca interest, slating Englands treatment of him followed by an act which would be more frowned on here than in his new home Spain where anything goes it looks suspect.

    As for Keane he is his own biggest & only fan, it was one of the few times i found myself agreeing with red nose when he said how arrogant and up himself Keane was

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  4. Heather Ruane

    As always, an interesting and entertaining read – but didn’t Roy Keane quit ITV just before the World Cup started? I have watched most of the ITV coverage and have yet to see him. In which case, one has to wonder what you have been watching?

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    • It was more of a matter of using the notorious on-screen “chemistry” between Chiles and Keane to highlight the difference in the treatment of the Irish thug and Suárez. Not to be taken TOO literally!

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    • Alan “stamp on your head but not get a ban because you’re needed by england” shearer, is fulfilling the hypocite role quote nicely though

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  5. David Dean

    Very witty, interesting and well written. What can be done with this fruit-cake of a genius and by all accounts he is a lovely, quiet man? Is this the last we will see of him – an inevitable transfer abroad? What ban do you think is fair, Rob? Bremner and Keegan were banned for six weeks after being sent off and throwing their shirts to the ground in a friendly!

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  6. Good article! You should have mentioned a few of Keanes off-field cowardly assaults too, every bugger else seems to have forgotten them!

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    • Or acting like a twat for Ireland, chucking his toys out the pram and heading off home

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      • Well, exactly.

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      • Always makes me laugh when “uncle keano” bangs on about scum players or England or Ireland or whoever lacking passion, when this is a man who left his country in the lurch mid tournament.

        he really Is the scummiest of the scummers, even worse than purple nose, the self titled guvnor and Mr man united Gary Neville

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  7. Peter Dout

    Well written article as usual Rob, had to chuckle at ‘dental indiscretion’. On this occasion though I have to disagree with you. Whilst everything you said about that excuse for a piece of human shit Roy Kean is correct, I think a Suarez ban will show the petulant little blighters called footballers that this discusting behaviour cannot be tollerated. Hepatitis is a real danger too. 12 month ban I say.

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  8. AllWhiteNow

    Top, top blog today Rob – a sunny day which you have brightened for me even more. Remorselessly perceptive, coruscatingly analysed and devastatingly funny. You’re wasted on here old bean – someone in football comedy script-writing really needs to discover you! Great stuff. Cheers 🙂

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  9. Barely a word was said against Jermaine Defoe when he bit a fellow player a few years ago, must be because he is English.

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  10. Can always rely on you rob , I’ve been switching over from the pre match and post match “love in” for weeks now , the cabbage patch doll is like a love sick teenager who can’t can’t believe she’s sat next to one direction…. as for suarez, as the saying goes , 3 strikes and you’re out , Liverpool should take the Spanish euros and run…

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    • He started out doing them shows where people talk about share prices, stock exchange indexes, company merges and other boring shite. He appeared on frank skinners chat show where they both talked about being west brom fans and some “genius” tv exec decided he’d make a good football presented. No wonder he’s full of awe at how he managed to end up presenting a world cup

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  11. Ian finlay

    We’ll rob, another biting piece ,you certainly got your teeth into this one,.But in defence of Suarez , he never bites of more than he can chew !!!!!! MOT

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  12. joe wicklow

    another brilliant and honest article our very own EAMON DUNPHY ON RTE RTE this morning saying he would sooner get bitten by LUIS than suffer a premediated career injury by some so called hardman footballer would the media be so virulant if was an english player? look forward to next article ROB

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    • Well I’ve never knowingly agreed with Dunphy before, except when he used to praise Giles and Bremner back in the day – but I’m bound to say he’s spot on with that.

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  13. Tellinswhite

    Am I the only one who finds the ‘Voodoo’ Chiles / Royston Vasey vibe reminiscent of Squire and Ted? Right down to Ted’s accent! ‘I’m not interested in coming to see West Brom’s preseason Sorr’

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  14. I’m still trying to get over the comparison of chilles to the pilsbury doughman!! ha ha ha. what a corker. On a serious note Hypocrisy and Ignorance often go hand in hand- what one doesn’t notice one can’t be guilty of and all that. Just an observation but wasn’t Keane more underhand about some of the brutality he meted out? I know the inger harland one wasn’t very subtle but he’d waited a while for that one. If you look closely at the bite against ivanovich, Suarez actually looks more concerned with biting him than being focused on where the ball is- its very deliberate. The first biteing incident when he was abroad, again it’s very unsubtle, in fact it’s right in front of the referee, again a seemingly deliberate pre meditated act. They’re normally against a player who he has previously had difficulty in dominating so maybe it’s not such a mindless act at all but instead something all together more sinister- He actually seems to take a perverse enjoyment in it- anyways I agree with Big Alan Shearer when he said- Three Bites and you’re out- quite funny for a man who normally isn’t. NUFC.

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  15. edward pocock

    Always love your articles and really I don t much care about Keane but this is the third time he has done it. World cup matches are watched by a lot of kids and even people not much interested in football due to it being the showcase of world football. Suarez act is not only an extremely bad example to these kids it jars too much against basic human behavior. Don t remember what punishment was given to Cantona for his kicking that fan but I guess a similar punishment is warranted.

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    • Edward, he got a couple of games at the end of one season and a couple of games at the start of the next, so basically he got banned for the cricket season! Oh, and they made him do a few hours community service, you know, like everyone who commits assault gets. Them that play for manu that is.

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  16. Agree about the Man u bias from the Fa and media, if you think about it, he called Evra a negro, and it was a childish petulant thing to do, from a childish and petulant player . However, it’s a description of a race of people, Darkus Howe called himself such a name.. I dare say if you are going to go into panic mode and unchartered territory regarding race, then make sure you do it when it involves provocation of a Manure player. As for the biting, well it probably creates more consternation due to size of his railings .

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  17. Nice article. Ignorance equating to hypocrisy – couldn’t agree more. It’s endemic of the mind-set in the UK at least, which once again shows a total lack of understanding of behaviour not akin to their own, hence the waves of xenophobia being dished out. Certainly there are far more violent acts being committed by footballers in the professional game. Having lived five years in Lima, Peru, one becomes very much acquainted with a very different reality, where behaviour such as biting, so distasteful to ourselves living in our ‘perfectly organised societies’ who know all there is to know about moral standards, can be witnessed in daily life. One can simply just condemn these acts without further ado, or one can try to get a sense of proportion.

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