Night of the Flapping Gums II: “Characters”

The mouth of Luis Suarez: Virgin territory for modern dentistry and the conduit for an inexhaustible spring of f***wittery.

Today it was reported that the Uruguayan Nosferatu has once again opened his mouth with staggeringly moronic results.  Enough time has passed that even though Suarez’s malevolent nibbling will forever be part of World Cup folklore, it has largely been consigned to history.  Many of us will forever more see him as a compulsive, aggressive idiot but by-and-large, the whole affair was over. Operative word being “was”.

According to reports, Suarez is now suggesting that his punishment for biting Chiellini during the World Cup was excessive and that FIFA punished him like they would a hooligan.  Given that football hooliganism is punished in many nations with criminal charges, potential prison time and lifetime bans, I think it’s safe to say he’s reaching a bit.

There’s not really much to analyse about this.  It’s pretty clear now that he’s a self-entitled, remorseless tool who likes nothing more than playing the victim.  In a week where Steven Gerrard and Martin Skrtel were sanctioned for stomping on players, the Suarez comments mingle with these incidents to give rise to a claim that frequently has me scratching my head:

“The game needs characters”

Does it?  Perhaps I’m a bit different from other fans in that my primary focus is on what happens on the field.  I’m not a fan of controversial “talking points” and don’t find debates over refereeing decisions to be especially enjoyable either.  If I had my way, football would be officiated by all-seeing robots that can correctly deem with 100% accuracy whether or not a foul has actually taken place.

I’m not denying that player personalities can provide a bit of a sideshow.  Eric Cantona’s puffed out chest and borderline arrogance made for some of the best Nike commercials I’ve ever seen.  With that said, I found nothing entertaining about seeing him stamp his studs into an opponent’s chest or derailing Man United’s 1994-95 campaign by losing it and jump-kicking a spectator.

I’ll admit to taking pleasure in seeing Stephen Lenhart of the San Jose Earthquakes fail but that’s because I resent the wholesale hacking, diving and complaining that have become his hallmarks as opposed to “loving to hate him”.

I get my entertainment by seeing what these guys do on the field.  Luis Suarez is one of the best players around right now and creates enough of a spectacle with his sheer ability.  I don’t need him to be a pantomime villain to be entertained by him.  If anything, his idiotic behaviour mars my enjoyment of his play.  Partly it is because like Lenhart, I resent him.  Partly it is because those incidents invariably cause him to miss games, periodically removing a talented player from the sport.

As much of a talking point as the World Cup incident was, it robbed us of one of the tournaments potential stars.

Ryan Giggs and John Terry having alleged extramarital affairs adds nothing to the game for me.

Landon Donovan has provided LA Galaxy and US fans with a plethora of memorable moments.  He’s provided Quakes fans with a plethora of tainted ones.  He is among the most entertaining players that the nation has ever produced.  His forays into punditry have revealed him to have all the charisma of a concrete slab.  That doesn’t detract from who he was as a player.

For me personally, every player in the world could have mundane personal lives and the personalities of Alan Shearer and Michael Owen off the field and it would hardly impact my love of the game or my enjoyment of their play.  “Character” for me comes in the form of playing styles, strategies and what a player does with the ball.  I appreciate the heartfelt heroics of a player overcoming adversity. Those kinds of heroics don’t require a villain.


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