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Let's Face It - Barcelona's Suarez Is a Liability for Club And Country

13/07/2014 22:06 BST | Updated 12/09/2014 10:59 BST

There is a famous saying in South America. It goes, 'other countries have their history, Uruguay has football'.

Uruguay - and now Barcelona - also has Luis Suarez. Whether that is a good thing or not, is open to debate.

It was 19 June this year, a sodden Sao Paolo evening, when the forward cemented his place at the forefront of international football, in front of the watching eyes of the world.

A sharp individual performance, capped by a typically instinctive, but nonetheless, beautiful brace against England, propelled his side back into the Group D qualification places following a shock opening day defeat to minnows Costa Rica. Plucked from the brink of failure. The jaws of the beast.

The nation of 3.5million, which has punched above its weight for years, took an audible sigh of relief, and lifted up their saviour in unison. Once again, Luis Suarez was a hero.

It was the perfect response to the English media, too. The critics. The haters. Even before the tournament, Suarez had mooted that he felt singled-out, picked on, by the hacks behind the headlines. Finally, he had let his football do the talking, on the biggest stage of all. Finally, this was pay back.

But there is a fine line between genius and insanity. In Suarez's case, that chasm is tangible - it's around 120 hours.

Indeed, the following Tuesday - still sailing on the crest of the wave created by that world-class performance just five days earlier - Uruguay's puppet master, so often pulling the strings, lost his grip.

Hero, to zero. Ecstatic highs, and crushing lows. In what, even now, is simply incredible footage, Suarez was caught biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, an unprovoked action in the 80th minute, with his side heading for the exit.

It was an incident which overshadowed Uruguay's decisive goal just a few moments later, and was so blatant and shocking that it caused a seismic waves across the game.

What was he thinking? To any level-headed spectator, it was, quite simply, an unthinkable act. His career, his dreams, Uruguay's World Cup campaign - all in tatters. And for what?

Of course, it was not the first time that the boy from Santo has attracted controversy. This was not only his first, second but THIRD biting incident in the last four years.

And lest we forget the fervent furore caused by his liberal use of well-known racial slurs - maliciously motivated or otherwise - towards Manchester United's Patrice Evra in 2011, which resulted in an eight game ban for the South American.

His chequered recent past only makes it even more bizarre that his La Celeste national teammates have rushed to defend their fallen comrade.

Empty excuses, and effete explanations. They blamed the Italian for the incident, and claimed that the bite marks on his shoulder had been super-imposed by British media outlets. Yes, really.

The team's manager, Óscar Tabárez resigned from the FIFA committee in a huff - mooting that Suarez had been made a scapegoat.

Even Uruguay's influential captain, Diego Lugano, said: "What I saw was a struggle and a photo of Chiellini which showed an old scar. You have to be stupid to imagine that scar is recent, very stupid."

Which makes it no surprise that the player himself, backed by a rousing chorus of complaints and support from his countrymen, claimed that the incident was "no big deal". No remorse, no regrets. No progress.

But what is it that causes Suarez to press the self-destruct button, in such spectacular style, on such a regular basis?

In many ways, his tendency to bite his opponents reminds of a child in the early stages of development. Experts suggest that, when growing up, kids can exhibit such behaviours as a coping mechanism, or even to gain positive stimulation.

There are also studies which claim that proprioceptive activities such as chewing and biting are more common in people with autism, or Asperger syndrome - or those who experience sensory difficulties.

It goes without saying that professional athletes at the top of their game are more likely to experience intense periods of extreme, and concentrated, pressure.

Sports psychologists say it can happen in the world of win-lose, success-fail, with people who identify themselves with their performance and, frankly, are supposed to be aggressive.

But the sign of a really great player, is one who doesn't get too high, or too low. Ultimately, all elite athletes will experience exceptional stress. All must develop a coping strategy. Very, very few bite in this manner.

Ironically, it was Mike Tyson - himself disgraced for taking a chunk out of Evander Holyfield - who defended the player just this week, claiming that "it was just the heat of the moment, really hot blooded and really competitive. Sometimes you just get frustrated."

Oh, that's okay then, I suppose. I am sick of irresponsible high profile figures climbing over each other to defend such unacceptable behaviour. I read a great quote by Jonathan Katz, a Sports Psychologist in New York, who noted that "in the sports world, we tend to tolerate bad behaviour on the part of people who excel. That's not uncommon in the sports world."

Are there any morals left in football? After all, if an employee was to so consistently commit such acts of assault in any other workplace, he would be sacked on the spot and shipped out.

I applaud FIFA's prompt action on the matter - suspending the Uruguayan from all footballing activity for four months - and I refute those claiming that their shotgun response was too harsh.

I believe that the forward deserves every single second of his ban - and I also think that football as a whole needs to be very careful in how it responds to this act.

We cannot have one rule for the average player, and one for the world-class. In other words, just because you're good, we can't brush this under the carpet.

In some ways, this incredible World Cup has already helped to lift the rug. It has been a simply stunning spectacle - without doubt the best in recent history - and one thing's for sure, it has been anything but predictable.

Sadly, the most controversial moment of the tournament was one that we have witnessed several times before.

And the latest controversy is simply a bridge too far for his Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers. The Northern Irishman is one of the most patient managers around, but the sad truth is that Suarez has missed a whopping 32 club games through various suspensions in the last two and a half years.

Liverpool would have had to hand over another three million in wages during his four month absence from footballing activity. Having enjoyed their most successful campaign in recent memory last season, losing their star man will be huge gamble for the Reds - but the constant disrespect and disregard shown towards his employers, a famous club with great history, had effectively made his position untenable.

The Kop Choir will never sing his name again. The next destination on his journey of self-destruction? Barcelona. The Spanish giants announced his signing, subject to medical, yesterday, at a cost of around £75million.

A move to Spain is one which Suarez has long hankered after, so maybe his action was less career suicide, more cunning strategy.

It is perhaps inevitable that a player of Suarez' unarguable quality will attract a whole host of potential suitors, but nevertheless I must say that I am surprised by the Nou Camp club's interest.

Effectively, the forward is 'damaged goods' - and the rumours have been met with a vociferous and mixed response here in Spain. All evidence suggests that the player WILL commit a similar act in the future. No amount of bans or fines seem to have the desired impact.

I reckon that lashing out in such a manner is ingrained within him - and the bottom line is, many Barca fans wouldn't have touched him with a six-foot barge pole.

Ultimately, his exit could prove beneficial for his current employers. No longer will his manager be required to make excuses, indulge idiotic behaviour and to build a team around one man. A post-Suarez Liverpool is a curious proposition, but a much more likeable one.

As for the man himself? Well, for many within football, I think it's a case of 'three strikes and you're out'. It is testament to the seriousness and seriality of his despicable actions that even the Liverpool faithful who so unconditionally defended him in the aftermath of the Evra incident have washed their hands of their hero.

He now has a fresh start. A clean slate. If he is ever going to rebuild anything like a respectable reputation, he needs to learn to keep his mouth shut - on and off the field. There is no doubt in my mind that Suarez will bag goals in Spain. But that is just one part of being a modern-day professional footballer.

Can this one-man controversy magnet avoid hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons? Don't bank on it.