Luis Suarez: he's not OJ but...
The sports confessional; it’s almost a rite of passage nowadays. Marion Jones; Dwain Chambers; Tiger Woods; Diego Maradona; Luis Suarez; and now, of course, the daddy of them all, Lance Armstrong. Each made the choice to lay their soul bare in a public mea culpa aimed at relieving their conscience, starting afresh, or reducing their punishment, depending on your level of cynicism.
Accountability is suddenly in vogue, and Lance Armstrong’s Oprah interview (which was akin to eavesdropping on an out-of-body experience so detached was the cyclist from the actions he described), has now surpassed Tiger’s confession atop the league table of what I suppose should be properly titled “unsporting” revelations.
However, just days before Armstrong’s audience with the Big O, Liverpool striker, Luis Suarez, had an experience that wasn’t so much “out of his body” as “out of his mind” when he revealed his laissez faire attitude to what FIFA likes to call the “laws of the game”, but which our Luis prefers to call “loose guidelines”.
As you may know, the Liverpool striker volunteered to Fox Sports Argentina that he deliberately dived to win a penalty for the Reds against Stoke in a Barclays Premier League game earlier this season. Not only that, but the implication was that “Potters-gate” was not an aberration. Suarez having willingly admitted that “I invented a foul because I wanted to win.” In other words, he cheated, and, by deduction, is happy to cheat whenever he sees fit because the end justifies the means.
Now, forgive the amateur psychiatry, but to me that sounds sociopathic. What’s more, it could be argued that his devious behavior is compulsive because he’s done it, at the very least, twice before. To all Ghanaians Suarez will live forever in infamy as the guy who denied the Black Stars a place in the 2010 World Cup semi-final with a cynical handball that proudly prevented a certain decisive goal; while he won’t be safe on the streets of Mansfield in this lifetime following a recent English FA Cup-tie in which the action of batting the ball into the net with his wrist could only have been accidental if he suffers from Parkinson’s disease, which I’m assuming he doesn’t.
Regarded as an inveterate diver prior to the confession, and still suspected by some of being a racist after serving an 8-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, one wonders why he would further sully his reputation by coming clean about the dirt? After all, Armstrong’s hari-kiri came well after his career was over, but the Uruguayan is currently at the height of his sporting powers so why risk puncturing the balloon?
Here’s my dime store psychoanalysis -- Luis Suarez is suffering from O.J syndrome. Remember him? O.J Simpson, the former American footballer and movie star turned acquitted murder suspect who’s currently starring in a Nevada prison epic after being convicted in a later case of kidnapping and armed robbery. Well he’s a classic case of a guy who didn’t know when to shut the hell up.
In 1995 he was home free after beating the rap in the “trial of the century” over the murder of his ex wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman. But was he relieved and content to fade into the sunset, still a hero to some, with his freedom, if not his finances, intact? No! O.J wanted to blab, tease, taunt, and generally flip the bird at those who still believed he’d got away with murder. In short, he’d become a notoriety junkie, basking in his infamy, convinced that his skin was made of Teflon. Obviously, it wasn’t, and he’s now paying the price.
Of course, I’m not equating Luis Suarez’ sporting transgressions with the murder charges filed against O.J. or the later crimes of which the American was convicted. Contrary to the late, great Liverpool boss, Bill Shankly, I’m of the firm opinion that football is NOT “more important than life and death”, and nowhere near as serious as kidnapping and armed robbery. However, I do believe that there are parallels to be drawn between Simpson’s attitude to his trials and tribulations and the attitude of Suarez to his. Neither showed any remorse, and both painted themselves as victims. Simpson blamed media pressure, racism, and the Goldman family’s vindictive need to paint him as a scapegoat for his plight; while Suarez also blamed the media (in his mind heavily influenced by Manchester United), along with cultural misunderstanding and Britain’s dislike for South Americans for his fall from grace. Moreover, both men appeared to glory in their villainous image to the extent that they seemed almost happy to fuel the controversy it generated.
To the rational among us that seems a slippery slope to travel. “I’m bad. I’m bad. You know it,” might work as a lyric for Fulham Football Club’s most celebrated ex-fan, but that kind of bravado has a tendency to become a self-fulfilling prophesy from which you can’t escape, as O.J can attest. So my advice to Suarez, as a closet shrink to an out-of-the-closet nutcase you understand, is to hold back and lie low for a while. Suppress that obsessive compulsion to cheat, mute that masochistic desire to talk about it. Stay on your feet and let your boots do the talking. However, if you choose not to take that advice I do have one other pearl of wisdom to offer, and it comes courtesy of your soul-mate, O.J…… “Run, Luis, Run!”