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The “Cannibal of Ajax”. Would banning players like Suarez stop diving?

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Making the Arsenal

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.

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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.


26 comments to The “Cannibal of Ajax”. Would banning players like Suarez stop diving?

  • CB

    Retrospective is best – a three match ban and a yellow card would kill diving.

    A ban after 3 yellow cards encourages Bale, for example, to dive twice without punishment.

  • AnonymousGun

    The boy who cried wolf.

  • Macker


    As a Liverpool fan who attends all matches, yours is a great post. The Arsenal are much respected up here, as opposed to other London clubs (Chavs for example)and fans mix freely and the atmosphere is always a sporting one.

    However, one of the most blatant dives I have ever seen was that of Patrick Viera who did a full “Klinsmann” as he ran past Hamman, cleary one metre away from Didi when he did so.

    Diving is a blight of the modern game, but it a Liverpool player or another, it isn’t acceptable. A card on the spot will stop this.


  • Stevie G, Walton Liverpool

    Leave Suarez alone!! He his more sinned against than sinner!! He should have had a penalty at Anfield when one of your yard dog centre backs ragged him back when he was about to slot home a cross. He gets kicked to bits in EVERY game and the referees turn a blind eye. The witch hunt on Suarez is nothing short of disgraceful and a deliberate attempt by the likes of Fergie and Wenger to blunt his potency. They realise he is so tricky and good that they have besmirched him at every opportunity so that referees are biased against him. You only have to look at the outrageous penalty decision that was denied him at Norwich when Barnett karate chopped him in the box and then had the cheek to try to get him booked by waving an imaginary yellow card!! You lot are a load of retards but don’t worry Suarez will come back to haunt you and rip your centre backs to pieces at the Emirates next year!!

  • micro

    Thank God this thug didnt come to Arsenal, I would have had a problem cheering him. Talent is nothing if you cant add a bit of honesty. it is honesty that has kept Wenger and Arsenal high on peoples minds despite lack of trophies and you dont want players like suarez or Ashley young coming to taint it with ridiculous dives.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Now don’t get me wrong I am 100% in favour of banning diving all over the field but then we have to change the laws and start giving red cards for diving on the field. Now I wouldn’t mind that at all but the problem is that certain refs then might use this. We have seen yellow cards given for a dive that afterwards was shown not to be a dive. So if a ref then would have given a red card it would have had a negative influence on one team.

  • James

    Or maybe we can blame manure and le-arse for starting the diving in the first place! lets call it as we see it, it’s easy singling out Suarez but what about the rest who have been doing it for years? people like rooney, young, valencia, pires, giggs, they never got the treatment like Suarez is getting. So lay off him you bunch of biased morons!

  • CB

    Interesting read witht he conclusion tht we shouldn’t bother about it.

    If so, we perpetuate diving – and the examples I gave above are clearly diving ie no contact or extra/exagerated movement unwarranted by the contact.

    Watch the examples and then tell me you aren’t bothered and you are happy for diving to be part of the game unchecked.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Macker, thanks for the sensible reply.

    For some of the more “non-sensible’ replies I have seen behind the scenes of the site.
    The fact I named Suarez in my article was because I could bring a bit of perspective on him from his days in Holland.

    Of course Rooney, Young, Bale and others dive. But if we want to stop diving we should not look at the other teams but start admitting our own divers also. Even though I think for the moment Arsenal is rather a diving-free team. But there is no guarantee that this will never happen.

    But it has to stop or we have to try to stop it. Problem is that most or should I say too many football players are people with low moral standards? And I think that is the real problem.

  • nicky

    With a reputation like that, I’m surprised that Liverpool (and Arsenal) initially showed any interest in Suarez.
    It seems to me that we should leave his behaviour and others like him, to the refs AND his own team-mates. The refs can use the yellow card and team-mates will soon get fed-up with
    (a) the constant disruption of play by the diving and (b) refs ignoring bona fide fouls due to the reputation of their noted diver.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    The aspect of this diving controversy that galls is the attempt in some quarters to imply that it is a virus introduced and sustained in the EPL by foreign players…now, there should be a steep penalty from FA for such xenophobic nonesense.

  • Scrotty McBuggerballs

    Oh dear Walter, what have you done? The precious LOLerpool fans will surely come out in force and moan that the entire world is against them now.

    Are you not aware that their history makes them immune from critism to both club and players?

  • goooner

    Good post Walter. Why do they have to punish him retrospectively for the dive (ie yellow card). They could punish him for bringing the game into disrepute, and ban him accordingly.

  • WalterBroeckx

    that could be a different angle to punish diving players. In a way you could say that by cheating they bring the game into disrepute and that can be a reason for a ban. I never thought of it like that. Good point!

  • rusty

    Let’s not forget Suarez’s moment of inspiration during World Cup 2010, when he “cleared the ball off the line” close to the end of the game by reaching out and stopping it with his hand — although he was red-carded, Ghana missed the subsequent penalty and went on to lose in extra time.

    This was another polarizing event — and those who defend his theatrics in the offensive box are sure to come down is his favor here as well. I must admit, while I find him a tiresome diver in general, because he took his red card fairly (and it was earned through unsporting, rather than dangerous play), I’m less inclined to fault him for the handball.

  • Damien Luu

    Boy, I am just glad that we did not buy him. Talent or not, a guy like that could never be a Gunner in my eyes. Even the “Mike Tyson” stuff, holly cow!

  • John L

    @ liverpool fans,

    i dont get the sense that the suarez ‘witch hunt’ is solely down to his theatrics. i believe that the evra incident amoungst others plays a part as well. yes other players dive and yes other players can be a bit nasty ala john terry. most sensible people know that its not just saurez, sadly the media isnt really known for its sensibilities.
    the english media loves a ‘witch hunt’ especially when its a no good johnny foreigner, but suarez has made it pretty easy for them. yes its unfair that the media talks about suarez but bale and young dont seem to get mentioned, yes its unfair that saurez got a harsher ban than terry for almost the same thing. and trust me as an arsenal fan, im all to familiar with this! however two wrongs dont make a right and you have to see that saurez hasnt helped himself any.

  • John L

    @ walter,

    the refs shouldnt give reds for dives, cuz as you say if they get it wrong it can really change the game in a negative way. they should still give a yellow when they are 100% sure of a dive as this can effect the game later on ala yellow for a dive, followed by a yellow for a reckless challenge. thus allowing immediate punishment.

    however, there has to be a retrospective punishment based on video evidence, decided by other refs, after the game. (could possibly even do it at half time?)
    the punishment could go under; bringing the game into disrepute, unsportsmanlike conduct, or simply and this is a revolutionary idea i know, for DIVING!
    maybe one match ban for fist dive, 3 for the second, 5 for the third etc. i think you would see a very quick change in players behavior.
    more importantly i believe you would see an improvement in the referees performance. like you said no one likes to be duped and no one likes to miss a clear foul, with everyone diving left and right it causes the refs to hesitate. which i believe often causes a poor call, like on a test when you second guess yourself. with players diving less (because of strict repercussions) and refs safe in the knowledge that a missed dive will be punished it might just cause them to be more brave with what they instinctively and initially saw.

  • Barry Stacey

    Ok , here is something that could be workable.
    Perhaps the refs should be given another colour card to be shown to a player as a warning that an incident will be investigated by video evidence and punished if a transgression is confirmed to have taken place.
    The adjudicators should be a panel of ex professionals. There should be set punishments for each type of transgression.
    Only an idea !!

  • FinnGooner

    It was intresting to know about Suarez’s past. Thanks Walter.
    As for that fine they could what was done in Finland with ice hockey player getting fined 3.33 % of season wage, that would have some affect.

  • Tee Song

    I think a dive should be a red card, whether during the game or retrospectively given. The reason is that it’s the offensive equivalent of the denial of a goalscoring opportunity. For a defender, the only reason they don’t deliberately foul an attacker who’s gotten behind them for a one v one agaisnt the keeper is that it would be a red card. If only a yellow card were given, I’m sure that there would be many managers and defenders who would happily take the caution to prevent a goal scoring opportunity. So in that situation, a special category of foul is created to provide harsher punishment and prevent players from simply tackling a breakaway attacker.

    A dive represents a similar situation. It’s an attacker trying to “win” a goal scoring opportunity, either a penalty or direct free kick, by unsportsmanlike means. As far as I’m concerned, diving and denial of a goal scoring opportunity are two sides of the same coin I think they should be punished similarly, with a red card.