LUIS SUAREZ could have done himself a lot of favours last weekend.
The Liverpool striker – an unbelievably good player – courted more controversy by handling the ball before he scored against Mansfield in the FA Cup.
Many people have branded him a cheat for what happened – one commentator has been reprimanded for using the phrase ‘actions of a cheat’ at the time – and the whole thing has, once again, left a bad taste in the mouth.
I suppose what people should be asking themselves is ‘if I was playing on a Sunday morning, would I have owned up?’
While some might say ‘yes’, my guess is that many more would simply run away and celebrate, leaving any decision to the officials.
Would you expect a Town player to own up in similar circumstances?
The point I would like to make is that Suarez missed a golden opportunity to redress some of the events which seem to have tainted the public perception of him.
This is a man who was sent off for dissent on his international debut for Uruguay, was suspended by Ajax for a dressing-room altercation with a teammate and who, in the 2010 World Cup, prevented Ghana’s Dominic Adiyiah from scoring in the final minute with a deliberate handball on the line (earning a red card). He has also been banned for biting an opponent!
Then there was the whole Patrice Evra situation, where he allegedly racially abused the Manchester United player, was later found guilty by an independent regulatory commission and, when they next met, refused to shake hands with Evra before kick-off.
Last Saturday at Field Mill was a perfect chance for him to rebuild some of that reputation by picking the ball out of the net, putting it down where he’d handled the ball and signalling that it was a free-kick to the Conference side.
There was no pressure on Liverpool, they were never going to lose the tie and such an action would have earned him worldwide plaudits – because the FA Cup is watched all over the globe.
Paolo Di Caneo didn’t exactly have an unblemished playing career, but he is remembered just as much now for the sporting act of not scoring for West Ham against Everton when goalkeeper Paul Gerrard was lying injured.
Di Caneo won the FIFA Fair Play Award. Suarez could have won a lot of positive feedback.