Suarez: A Bullet Dodged? & More


Chiquidrácula. Little Dracula. His parents did not name him that but the for Marco Rodriguez, the referee in yesterday’s Uruguay versus Italy match, that is his nickname. You couldn’t make it up. Well, given that nugget was sourced from Wiki, it probably has been but nonetheless it weaves wonderfully into the narrative surrounding Luis Suarez’s latest indiscretion.

For the third time in his career – that we know about – the Uruguayan sank his teeth into an opponent. Previously this has been the precursor to a move to a new club and his words after the England match suggested the player was executing an exit strategy. If this was part of the plan, it is one of the most cynical ever adopted. Suarez’s rationale mat include that he is being subjected to a witch-hunt orchestrated by the English media, a ploy that would no doubt bring sympathy and knowing nods from FIFA suits. John W Henry may find Arsenal smoking cigars as he sees his dreams of a £100m fee burning in front of his eyes. A player capable of engineering interest from a domestic rival will have no problem forcing a move to a grander European stage.

It adds to the notoriety gained from the last World Cup when his country prospered following his handball against Ghana. The question is what punishment FIFA will hand out? Already legal minds have suggested that anything more than a three game ban offers Suarez and Uruguay the opportunity to appeals to higher FIFA chambers and the CAS, effectively staying his sentence until hearings take place. It would in all likelihood, leave the player available for selection for the remainder of Uruguay’s involvement in the tournament.

The repetitive nature of the crime fuels the expectation of a lengthy ban but it is also the factor that they will choose to ignore. The incident has tarnished their blue riband event and whilst there may exist a desire on their part to be seen as the guardians of the game, they also want this to be dealt with quickly and swept under the carpet. It’s going to have to be a big carpet.

It is why they will distance themselves from previous incidents, citing suspensions served as suitable demonstrations of justice in those respects. The resulting sentence will exclude him from all bar the final, effectively the rest of the tournament as the draw lends itself to Uruguay meeting Brazil in the quarter-final if they beat Colombia.

It’s a pointless exercise to question FIFAs grasp of the wider moralities involved. They have shown no desire to deal with them in other matters and it would be breathtaking hypocrisy on their part to assume the right to judge in this matter beyond the sphere of international football. I hope they are that shameless and impose a ban from the game for six months – an entirely arbitrary value I hasten to add – a sentence that has a severe enough punishment that provokes he player into some realisation of boundaries. It’s an uncomfortable moment even for a sport which has no compunction in encouraging its participants to win at all costs.

The match itself had already turned with Marchisio’s dismissal, the sin more acceptable to the game but underlining the extent of footballs issues, the blurred boundaries which surround the sport. Godin’s header put the Uruguayans into a meeting with the impressive Colombians who routed Japan to top their group with maximum points. That is the tempering factor in the instance; it was probably the weakest quartet which perhaps means Colombia are ‘undervalued’ members of the last sixteen. If they lose, the cynicism holds true but with their opponents pushed into the role of pantomime villains, the world will feel righteously joyful if the Colombians progress to the last eight.

The second match in Group C continued the controversy. A last-minute penalty, contentious until TV replays showed the briefest brush causing Samoras’ heels to meet with the inevitable ensuing tumble to the floor. Over the ninety minutes it’s hard to argue with the Greeks victory, they were more threatening than Ivory Coast, striking the woodwork three times and punishing the Africans for lax defending. Serge Aurier takes some responsibility for the winner, caught out of position and slow to recover. Many will cross him off their summer shopping list for such frivolity; others of us think it a trait which emphasises his Arsenal credentials. We shall see if Arsène agrees.

England meanwhile left in a suitable manner, quietly and not troubling anyone. Costa Rica were not particularly bothered and if Joel Campbell felt any strong desire to prove his worth to a nation which may host his football, he did a pretty good job of hiding it. Roy Hodgson faces more criticism from The Heil in another relentless pursuit of an England manager. No practical solutions are ever offered, that requires original thought of a positive nature something beyond the hacks in their employ.

The future begins now for the squad and whilst I understand Hodgson’s desire for a seamless transition, it is time to build for Euro2016 and let the players who will feature, gain international experience. It means the likes of Gerrard and Lampard are bid farewell. If the FA feel so inclined, let them bow out in the next friendly. Give those who wish to pay homage the opportunity to do so. That would be a change in behaviour from English footballs HQ, previously players were cast aside with nary a phone call to think them for their services.

For Arsenal’s contingent, it was a personally disappointing trip to South America. Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain went into the tournament short of match fitness, for the latter it got worse with injury in the warm-up matches. How highly Hodgson rates him is shown by his continued inclusion in the squad, the hope that his fitness would be proven in time for crucial games. Events proved otherwise and focus now turns to getting the player fit for next season. Reports suggest he will be, the same for Wilshere. Incredibly, some continue to claim he is only in the Arsenal team because he is English, before returning to the task of digging for their pot of gold where the Leprechaun told them the rainbow ended.

On the transfer front, Alexis Sanchez is the latest forward linked with the club. If he is signed, does this mean Campbell’s future is away from the club? That’s a very big ‘IF’, I hasten to add. It seems as unlikely as Balotelli joining but with the likes of Italy, Ivory Coast and Spain exiting the tournament, transfer opportunities increase as players become available for talks. If Arsène can drag himself away from his scouting mission in Brazil. As if anyone believes he really is there just as a French TV pundit…

’til Tomorrow.

152 thoughts on “Suarez: A Bullet Dodged? & More

  1. Bill,

    I love you for your decent, straight from the shoulder common sense approach to some of the thornier issues in football, and in truth you often make a valid case for the points you are making, and I sometimes wish that I could agree with you more often.

    I read the comments you and MA were making about referees and the need for transparency or accountability or both, and took that to mean that the only way referees can do that is by a Post-match interview.

    That would probably give rise to other problems and as regards contentious decisions could actually make matters worse.

    Let’s say that a ref, after the match, gave his reasons for awarding a penalty, and secure in his belief that he had made the right call, he said it was because of this or that reason, only for the cameras to show that from a different angle he was probably wrong.

    Who would benefit from that? Not the referee, not the manager of the team who wrongly conceded the penalty, and certainly not the aggrieved fans. No – the beneficiaries of such largesse would be the journalists who could pillory the ref in their papers, or the ‘I told you so’ TV pundits.

    Take another example. Refs are human, just like most of the rest of us, 🙂 and after a match where he missed the most blatant of penalty fouls, he admitted his mind had wandered for a second, and he had missed it because the thought of he new nubile girlfriend and what she looked like in the all together, inexplicably, or perhaps perfectly understandably, floated into his mind, gave him a slight boner and took his mind off the game?

    The manager of the team that suffered because of the refs sexy daydream (and let’s face it – who among us does not have sexy daydreams at work occasionally) 🙂 will still have lost the game, and the fans and the afflicted team would also be pissed off by this honest admission, (unless we are asking or expecting the ref to lie – and what then would be the point of the interview in terms of the supposed transparency or accountability?) which leads to the conclusion that we are probably better off not knowing the reasons that the refs did or did not give certain decisions.

    Actually, it is probably worth remembering that the Laws of the Game declares that the decision of the referee is final – and leave it there.

    But so that I do not appear to be arguing for the sake of it, I can perhaps make a suggestion that both you and MA might consider as a half way house.

    Both American football and Rugby have a well tried system of the referees announcing why they gave decisions or calling on a pitch side ref to explain their decisions by way of technology, in that they are ‘miked up’, and in this way the fans, the players and the managers/coaches know the reasons for their decisions — they might not agree with the ref, but there it is an explanation – take it or leave it.

    Maybe football (soccer) can take a lesson from that, and in case the ref gets sued for getting it wrong, he can have his attorney trotting along with him, all over the pitch, and giving his advice on the appropriate wording of the explanations. 🙂

  2. Emineke(striker for Nigeria) is so freaking strong.

    Aguero goes down with a knock, so what does Argentina do, bring on Lavezzi.

  3. @MA

    What about Diaz @ left back if Monreal decides to head back to Spain? His performances have been impressive.

  4. Nigeria now starting to show how good of a defensive side they are, closing down Argentina and throwing their bodies about to to block shots.

  5. Henry.

    I have to agree with you that bringing accountability or transparency into football refs is not as simple as it sounds and brings up some other very thorny issues that you describe. Nonetheless I think there should be more transparency but there is no way to know how far to take that. Certainly ref witch hunts should be avoided. The reality is that the rational for most decisions is “that is the way it looked to me when it happened”.

    Not sure what the correct answer. tennis and america sports make liberal use of in game technology to help make decisions and I think the benefits far outweigh the negative. I think they should add 3 more match officials which would significantly decrease the issue of not having the right viewing angle and view being shielded and they should be making much more liberal use of technology and video replays.

  6. Is Argentina not playing well in attack or are Iran and Nigeria that good at team defending? I think it is a bit of both.

  7. I agree with that, Bill.

    Since I have lived in the UK for some years, I have become an adopted Limey, and really enjoy rugby (both codes/versions) and they use Video Refs for difficult decisions regarding the scoring of tries, and even in something so staid as cricket, technology is widely used too. (MA as a Kiwi would know about both of them) and of course I still keep up with the New York Yankees and the New York Giants and you will know about them, so I do not know why soccer is so reluctant to get into the 21st century.

  8. LSG,

    What always strikes me about Messi is not the obvious skill — yaay, Nigeria have just equalised 2 – 2 — bu the fact that he does everything so smoothly and seemingly slowly. None of this frenetic movement which defines almost every other top player.

    WOW, Argentina have gone 3 : 2 off a knee it looked like. What a game!

  9. I just did a bit of research and Nigeria are generally a strong defensive team.

    The one thing that I am happy for when it comes to Messi(and there isn’t much) is the fact that the Argentinians have finally accepted him as one of their own. For soooooooooo long they didn’t accept him because he never played for an Argentine club team because he left straight for Barca so he was always viewed more as a Catalian.

  10. C:

    On paper, Argentina has far more attacking talent then Germany or probably any other squad in the world cup. Germany only has one pure goal scorer and CF on their squad in Klose. Tevez can’t even make the Argentina squad and would probably start for Germany or almost any other team in the tournament.

  11. @Bill

    Where Argentine have the far superior strikers, Germany has the far superior attacking midfielders lets be honest. I think things would have been different for Germany had Gomez not be injured for large parts of the season.

  12. Sad for Iran–they had a chance for a historic moment, which I felt they deserved after running Argentina so close.

    But I had picked Argentina and Nigeria from this group because the Super Eagles are strong physically and well-organized by Keshi.

  13. @LSG

    Nigeria are an interesting side, physically they are strong and athletic as with mostly all African teams, the thing that makes them different is that they can score goals with Amineke adn Musa not to mention Mikel tends to play really well as the hub of that team.

  14. @C

    Sadly, Mikel has been shit for us so far. Mourinho has totally messed his game up. I really don’t know what role he plays for us any longer. He was great at the confederation cup but so far he’s been a passenger on our team. Same with Moses, he’s lost it totally, he’s bad season is rubbing off on our team.

    Anyway, Nigeria plays France in the next round, hoping for an upset there. Though most won’t agree on here because of the Arsenal connection.

  15. @tateezee

    I though he actually had a pretty good game today. I though defensively he did well to help close down the space for Messi and helped on the counter as well. I thought his distribution was pretty good though he did lose the ball and had a heavy touch.

    Don’t worry mate, Mourinho has destroyed my Oscar too, who went from influential midfielder to shit.

  16. @C

    I guess Nigerians expect so much more from him. Prodigiously talented attacking midfielder till he joined Chelsea.

    I feel so sad about Oscar too. He had a great first season with Chelsea but was pretty average this.

    I hope Mourinho does the same with Cesc though, no hate intended. 😀

  17. Ecudaor




  18. I don’t see how a small harmless bite is seen as being more dangerous than a blow from an elbow on the face which footballers commonly dish out to one another. It is not like Suarez tried to rip out his flesh. Maybe a ban for 2-3 matches would ensure that he takes no further part in this World Cup.

  19. @tateezee

    Yea I remember watching Mikel as a youngster and the bidding war that ensued over his signature if I’m not mistaken. He is a talented attacker at his best like he showed at the Confederation Cup. You are right though, Chavs have tried to turn him into basically a CDM and have completely messed with his head.

    Many Brasilians are asking not just for Oscar but Paulinho(who Spuds have killed) to be dropped because they have been so poor.

    I agree about Cesc since he already did it to Mata!

  20. Finally, Sagna gets a game.

    Kos is my only concern for the match tonight seeing that Olie G is on the bench. Hopefully, he puts in a sterling performance.

    With Zaballeta’s performances, I wonder if Bac will get games at City. Richards didn’t seem to get much.

  21. HenryB,
    By beast I guess I am referring to his physical power. Though he may be short he is powerfully built and uses his brute physicality. I would describe Tevez as a beast as well.
    Note – I am Canadian and we often use the term in describing hockey players who impose their will physically upon their opponents. In hockey extreme physical contact is allowed.We wouldn’t use the term on a player who relies more on speed and agility.
    Aurier seems powerful and indefatigable.
    Does the use of the word bother you because it suggests that he is less than human?

  22. Shitty just signed Fernando on a free from Porto. He is a powerful CDM, he is a good quality player who could be a shrewd piece of business especially with the ACN this year.

  23. @C

    I agree with all you have said.
    When the spuds acquired Paulinho’s services, I was slightly jealous, but seeing the way things have turned out,no regrets. Still hoping for an athletic CDM as you have always championed. Gustavo? I doubt we’ll get him. Come to think of it, I’ll just watch Schneiderlin up close tonight.

    Who’d be you first pick for a new CDM at Arsenal?

    I bet you’re right about Sagna pairing up with kompany in Central defence. A bit risky though since Sagna has only played there a couple of matches, outstandingly, I must add.

  24. I think Nigeria could upset France. They won’t be favoured, but I picked them. So far France’s defence really hasn’t faced much threat. Of course, I want Kos to do well, but he might not play that match. Deschamps seems to change his side rather a lot. Are there injuries or does he just chop and change from match to match? Maybe he is letting the subs play as they have already had two victories and top the group?

  25. Anyone know which French players are on yellows and in danger of missing the next game should they get another yellow?

  26. @tateezee

    I was gutted that Paulinho went to Spuds because they have ruined him. We do so deperately need an athletic CDM to pair with Ramsey and Ozil.

    Gustavo was my first choice last year but I doubt he can be had this year, for me I would gladly have Gonalons or Khederia as my 1a and 1b. Schneiderlin I do fancy especially since he has played in a passing system that wants to pressure high at Southampton, others have said Javi Martinez who I’m sure Bayern would want 25-30M for him.

    I would imagine though that Pelligrini would feel more at eased with a pairing of Sagna/Kompany rather than Kompany/DeMIchellis.

  27. @Philmar

    6 changes to the French tonight, maybe the yellows were in part why? I don’t know.

  28. @MA

    I didn’t know that he had signed an extension at Porto because his contract was due to be up this summer.

  29. @Philmar

    Evra, Cabaye and Pogba received yellows against Honduras and Cabaye got his 2nd in the win over Switzerland.

  30. @C

    “Porto have announced to the Portuguese stock exchange that Manchester City have signed their midfielder Fernando for €15million.” This is being reported by

  31. @C

    It could be. I’ll be honest I say that I don’t know a huge amount about that player but the standard in the Portuguese domestic league is not what it once was. I’ll have to take your word on the player.

  32. @Lime

    Here’s to Nigeria upsetting the French in round 2. 😀

    @Philmar, Pogba I’m sure of, not sure of any other.


    Yeah, I would love Javi, costly though. I haven’t seen much of Gonalons though.

  33. @MA

    That’s true but he is a powerful CDM with good passing range. I think for City, he could easily sit next to either of Fernandinho or Toure and allow them to push forward and he just stay back and shield the back 4. Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t in the class of a Gonalons, Khederia, Javi Martniez or even what Schneiderlin could be but he is a rock and physically powerful.

    I agree that the Portuguese League isn’t what it once was but Porto are just one of those clubs that seem to produce quality players.

  34. @tateezee

    I’m a huge Gonalons fan but any of the ones that I said would be a welcomed addition and would immediately make our midfield better.

  35. Noboa is not going to win any “who wore it best” competitions, is he?

    How is he allowed on the pitch with blood all over his head and that fishnet bonnet?!

  36. Philmar,

    Thanks for your response.

    I understand now what you meant, you are right he does have a lot of strength and energy and he is also really fast.

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