This is a defence of Luis Suarez, let me make this clear. Which does not mean at all that it is an endorsement of the enormous stupidity he showed last weekend by gnawing on Branislav Ivanovic's arm.
Suarez has been punished with a ten-game ban from the FA, an amount which surely takes into account the fact that this is not the first time he has left an impression of his dental records on a fellow footballer's skin. The guy has anger issues that need be addressed, although Gordon Taylor's public offer of counselling sounded as pathetic and opportunistic as... Gordon Taylor.
My concern with the outrage is the lack of proportion. If the same reactions shown after the biting were the same involving cases of other documented physical aggression, including criminal lunges and flying elbows, football would be much cleaner. The same goes for the notion that behaviour off the ball is compulsory these days. Because I can't stop thinking Suarez would get a lot less stick if his last name was Stewart.
Yes, the Evra incident was despicable, even when someone can complain about the probability, or the 'cultural integration', arguments. But what about a certain former England captain? Since we summoned John Terry, let's remember how his attempt to send Alexis Sanchez into the kidney transplant list last season was simply forgotten after he so promptly and shamelessly jumped onto the Allianz Arena pitch after Chelsea won the Champions League. Never mind his other misdemeanours.
What about his team-mate who actually shot someone? Never mind it was an accident, lifting a gun in the training-ground (no matter how it got there) should be a serious offence in the first place.
"Ah, but Suarez dives." That argument doesn't deserve too much attention, so I will just answer by remembering Michael 'Two Tumbles that Won Two Penalties in World Cups' Owen. "But Suarez is violent." So what does that make Wayne Rooney, whose collection of red cards is enough to build a yoga mat for Coleen's sun salutations?
The fact is that judgement of Suarez is biased by origins. Latin American players have always had to overcome stereotypes when going abroad and this is not only something I have witnessed, but also been told of extensively by players from all walks of life. Laziness, lack of intelligence in assimilating tactics and dishonesty are just some of the less flattering portraits that make an already difficult process of adapting to a change of country for athletes even harder; added to that, they are often younger and from humbler walks of life than many European counterparts.
Suarez is hardly a saint and comes across as one of the most annoying footballers ever. At least he does not lobby to be a role model or pose as one. He has been crucified for his handball in South Africa, an act that is punishable within the rules of the game; he, for example, had to sit out the most important match Uruguay played since the 1970 World Cup semi final. People prefer to turn a blind eye to Asamoah Gyan bottling the penalty big time.
Just a couple of weeks ago I read an interview with Michael Ballack in an English football magazine, in which the professional foul he committed for Germany to deny the US a precious chance in a 2002 World Cup quarter-final, was treated as a heroic sacrifice. Enough said.
Suarez, nonetheless, is a big problem for Brendan Rogers, who now needs to uphold moral principles without upsetting his only proper striker too much. The Uruguayan should stay at Liverpool, not only because he is not the only of his peers to be a 'knob'ead', as my Scouse friends would say, but also because his departure would just reinforce the double standards that insist on following him.