MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay – Uruguay striker Luis Suarez is difficult to defend on the dribble and has a knack for scoring. Many rate him among the best strikers in the game.
But, and it’s a large but, he has drawn plenty of attention for other reasons, embarrassing his club, Liverpool, and his country by making a spectacle of himself on the field.
The 26-year-old Suarez gained international infamy at the 2010 World Cup for using his hand to bat away a shot from Ghana that was heading into the net. The move, which was roundly criticized, eventually earned Uruguay a spot in the semifinals and a fourth-place finish.
Since then, Suarez has had to face bigger problems.
He was banned for 10 English Premier League matches in April for biting Chelsea defender Branisalv Ivanovic. He sat out the last four Premier League games — he still finished with 23 goals — and will miss the first six of next season.
And Suarez is no first-time offender. In 2010 while playing in the Netherlands, he served a seven-match suspension for biting another player, earning him various nicknames, including the “Cannibal of Ajax.”
A year later at Liverpool, he served an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, who is black. He subsequently refused to shake hands with Evra prior to a match, which earned him more scorn.
Finally, he has a reputation as a diver and seems to have problems with anger management.
But he has many defenders, including Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and the club’s management.
Sebastian Bauza, the president of the Uruguay Football Association, has also been a staunch defender of Suarez, but he knows his behaviour and soiled reputation is hurting the country’s chances of reaching the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“I’ve spoken to him, and he’s not going through the best of times,” Bauza said. “We need for Suarez, as soon as possible … to be the player he was in the (2011) Copa America and the World Cup in South Africa. We have tough games coming up and we need Suarez at 100 per cent.”
© Copyright Times Colonist