Its 11.45 in the night. The mind is restless. It has been a brilliant few days for sports lovers. Sri Lanka and England have played a wonderful test series, Wimbledon has started and the Football World Cup has been brilliant to watch. But it is not about what has happened before. The concern is about what has happened a while back and the consequences of that. This blog is not about, cricket, Wimbledon or football.
It is about Luis Suarez.
Football fans are a strange community (at least the ones that I know). They take pride and abundant delight in the misery of another fan. Slowly the messages start coming in. “Luis Suarez is a disgrace to football” someone messages. “He should be stoned to death” an overexcited individual messages me. Television commentators and analysts are going crazy telling us what a disgraceful act it was. All this for a football player who was voted by all the players in England as player of the year. All this for a footballer player who was voted by the English press as the player of the year. All this for a football player who is being chased by the leading clubs of this world. “Liverpool should rot in hell” someone tells me. “Your Suarez is a disgrace” another message pops up. My Suarez? Well he is my Suarez. He is my favorite player. He is the player I enjoy watching the most. He is the player who elevated a mid table ordinary club to a champion team. He is the player who for 6 weeks last year made me go through the most amazing dream of my life.
He committed a terrible act. I felt the pain. So did many of his other fans.
The morning after is torturous if you are a Suarez Fan. People pour their emotions on social media. Friends are rampant on Facebook. Facebook- the most terrible invention known to mankind. It makes you see others celebrate when you are going through grief. It can make you envious, depressed and sad. A normal innocuous statement may seem like a taunt to you. I read a post which says that Suarez should have been the lead actor in the Hollywood flick Jaws. Someone calls him a rabid canine. I hope his family is not reading this. All sorts of analogies are provided and all sorts of names are being called. There are taunts and insults on twitter. This for a man who just a week back had produced one of the greatest individual performance seen at World Cup Football since Diego Maradona in 1986. Louis Suarez is the best player in the word, I had tweeted. Some one retweeted that yesterday and asked me whether I still believed in my declaration. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I consoled myself by claiming that all people were hypocrites. If Suarez was playing for their teams, these very same people would be drooling over him.
Luis Suarez has given me so much joy. Today he is given me a lot of pain.
When Luis Suarez is in form, he makes watching football such a wonderful experience. Football is the mistress of my life. It has taken me away from my first love- cricket. Some say, a mistress only brings pain. Maybe I deserve this pain. A few years back, I would never event have dreamt to miss a final of a global cricket event featuring India. This year when India played against Sri Lanka in the world T20 final, I followed the scores but my eyes were Suarez and my beloved Liverpool who were playing against West Ham. Liverpool won that game and India lost theirs. A few years back I would have been devastated. This time I was sad for India, but delighted that Liverpool was still in the title hunt of the English Premier League. In that game against West Ham, in the last fifteen minutes Suarez was unstoppable. He hit the post twice and played some breathtaking football. If I ever have a son, I told myself, I shall name him Luis Suarez.
No chance of that happening now.
January last year. Have just had the most wonderful week with my family. That Sunday Liverpool is playing away at Stoke. Last year this fixture brought out the worst in Liverpool Football Club. This year they play some stunning football inspired by Suarez and win 5-3. Suarez scores twice, creates twice. A few weeks later Suarez inspires Liverpool to a 5-1 win over Arsenal. Liverpool lead 4-0 within 18 minutes but it is not the goals that I remember. In the 14th minute of that game Suarez tries the most audacious attempt to score a goal. It hits the post. Liverpool march on and tell the world that they are back among the best. On March 16th he leads Liverpool to a most comprehensive victory at Old Trafford. They hate him there. Yesterday the supporters of that club, which finished 7th in the Premier league, were very active in describing how Suarez was a curse to the game of football. That club had Eric Cantona who jumped and assaulted a spectator. It had Roy Keane who admitted to deliberately hurting an opposing player. Memory can sometimes function according to one’s convenience.
Luis Alberto Suarez Diaz. Wonderful Wonderful player. My favorite player. Stupid Stupid Player. A player who has made me smile. A player who has caused me pain. A boon to football. A disgrace to football. Biting an opponent cannot be justified and should never ever happen on a football field. Biting an opponent should ensure the strictest of censures. Indeed if Suarez is banned for two years it will be justified. But what caused a player, who was celebrated across the world only a week back, to take this incredibly self destructive step. Surely but surely he would have known that this would cause irreparable damage to his career. Luis Suarez has let his fans down, his country down and his club down. Yesterday was a tough day for all his fans, it must have been unbearable for him and his family. He has let himself down the most. To work so hard to restore your reputation and then to throw it away in a moment’s madness is something very hard to comprehend.
The relation of a sportsman and a fan cannot be explained. It may seem irrational to many. A fan ignores all the failings of his hero. He lives in denial. A few years back I was devastated when another of my hero was accused of fixing cricket matches. That was painful. I defended him resolutely, digging out statistics, scorecards to prove he never did it. I still believe he never did it. In Suarez’s case his misdemeanor, although less significant, is more apparent and caught on video.
I cannot defend him although I desperately want to. I cannot stop the taunts and insults. Today the world is ridiculing him, almost flogging a dead man. But his supporters will forgive him as times goes by. His supporters will remember him for his goals, his desire to succeed, and his ability to do something unbelievable on the football field. The hypocrite football world will keep reminding us of his misdemeanors. One day he will go to play football in Spain. And one day he will stop playing football.
But for me football always is about Louis Suarez.