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By Walter Broeckx
With all the things said about Suarez and his diving skills I just want to give a few more details about his career so far and how he was looked up on in Holland where he played before he came to Liverpool. And then I will try to answer the question above and the problems there are with this.
He started his career in Holland with FC Groningen and then went to Ajax after some court cases where he tried to force his way out to Ajax in a not really gentle way. He lost his case and so Ajax had to pay up to Groningen. Something Ajax didn’t want to do in the first place. Suarez also refused to play for Groningen in a period in an attempt to force his move.
From the start of his Ajax career he was very quickly known for the fact of going down very easily. The slightest contact was enough to bring him down. The Dutch media focused a lot on this. And even his manager Van Basten was critical about this part of his game. Saying that he would fine him if he kept on doing it.
At first the refs fell for the diving most of the time. But after a while they ignored him. Or they gave him yellow cards. In the season 2008/2009 he was the player with the second highest number of yellow cards in the Dutch Eredivisie. And that for a striker! And most of the cards were for diving as you can imagine.
I must say that also after a while his diving really turned against him. Defenders could almost kick the shit out of him without the refs acting in the penalty area. It is fair to say that I have seen him getting laughable penalties for laughable dives in his early days of his career. But I also have seen blatant fouls on him not given.
I think this is down to the fact that you can fool a ref one time, maybe two times. But if a ref goes home, sees the images and knows he has been fooled by the dive he will think twice the next time he sees Suarez going down. Some will call it karma, some will call it justice.
But he also had other problems at times. He once got kicked by his own team mate Luque during the game Feyenoord-Ajax because they had an argument with each other.
And the most famous incident was when during the game Ajax-PSV he bit an opponent. The ref didn’t see the incident but the cameras caught and the media turned really against him. A Dutch newspaper called him the “Cannibal of Ajax”. And Ajax gave him a suspension of 2 games.
But the Dutch KNVB also took action and gave him a 7 game ban. In fact when Liverpool bought him he was still sitting out his ban.
The general picture I have from seeing him play over the years is that first of all he is a great player with lots of skills and tricks in him. Sources in Holland have confirmed that Arsenal has been in talks with Ajax over buying Suarez. Even in the weeks before he finally joined Liverpool. What eventually kept Arsenal from buying him will be the price tag for a player who has gotten himself in to trouble a bit too much. 25M euro for Suarez is a lot of money and if you look at his track record maybe a bit too much.
But apart from the skill thing he is also a player that has surrounded himself with controversy.
The way he wanted to force his move from Groningen to Ajax is a bit sour. His diving to win penalties is showing him as a player who is not afraid to cheat to win a game. The biting of an opponent. The Evra incident….
But he usually is loved by the fans of the team he plays for. The Ajax fans adored him. And maybe this is understandable if you don’t mind how you win but take any win as it comes even with cheating. I know Ajax fans who didn’t like that part of his game but well they took the good and the bad but deep inside they didn’t like the way he acted.
He surely manages to make the refs turn against him wherever he plays. As said before refs don’t like it when they are made look stupid after a dive.
The media in Holland had a love-hate relationship with Suarez. Loving him when he played the beautiful Ajax game and he was very capable of playing the beautiful game. Hating him when he was looking for another penalty.
For the moment Suarez is 25 years old. And he once said that his dream move would be to play for Barcelona. Will he go there in the future? Well one part of his game would fit in there nicely…
And then we come to the question: would banning a diving player stop the diving?
First of all we have to find a way round things because when a ref sees a dive he can only give a yellow card. So a ban seen on TV would have a different punishment compared to a punishment on the field. In a way this is against the rules of treating the same offence in the same way. There is no such problem with punching another player because there the punishment on the field and off the field would be the same: a sending off and a ban. But with diving this is different as I just said. So unless you give the ref the right to send off a diving player I cannot see this happening any time soon.
With the current laws and instructions of the game we could however give them a retrospective yellow card. And maybe they could bring down the number of cards before you get a ban. Giving a ban after 3 yellow cards could be an answer and then go on an active search for dives and retrospective yellow cards. And a fine could also be helpful but then the fine has to be in the order of an amount that the players feels it. If you earn £100,000 a week you will not really miss £5,000 or £10,000 when you are fined. I would miss it but well I don’t earn £100,000 a week.
So things are not that easy to just ban a player. It will take a change in the rules to force it. Of course what can stop Fifa, Uefa and the FA from taking steps to change the rules? As they all think it is despicable they should not just say it in words but start acting accordingly. But the problem is that the ones in charge sometimes win by the diving and so they an say it is a bad thing to do, but when their team wins by cheating they will brush it under the carpet.
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