Whether or not Luis Suarez gets a reduction to his suspension won’t make a difference. This will once again be a season in which the talented Uruguayan striker, this time playing for Barcelona, has to prove everyone was wrong about him, and he can focus on just football, instead of the diving, cheating and biting.
Suarez began last season with a six match suspension. He came back, and was the best player in the Premier League, finishing with 31 league goals in 33 matches, leading Liverpool to a second place finish, their best since the 2008-2009 season. It looked like Suarez had redeemed himself. Not in the eyes of Liverpool fans, who never saw him as a villain but as misunderstood genius, but in the eyes of everyone else.
The diving became a minor side show, nothing important. The goals, the assists, the leadership – that’s where the focus went, and for good reason. Suarez’ form was the main reason so many had big hopes for Uruguay heading into the World Cup. His two goals in the win over England cemented that notion, leading to that match against Italy, deciding who advances. Suarez beat Chiellini, didn’t get sent off, Uruguay won. What happened later was the most interesting thing, as FIFA unleashed the hammer of wrath and corrupt justice upon him.
That didn’t stop Barcelona from making him their most expensive signing ever, at least on the books (we’ll never know exactly how much was paid for Neymar). Suarez is now part of an incredible offensive trio that includes Lionel Messi and Neymar, although it’s not quite clear how it’ll all work, and who might have to switch positions.
The Spanish press can be just like the English, by they focus on other things. Diving isn’t frowned upon as much as it was in England. It’s a different culture of football. However, biting is bad everywhere, and after doing it in both the Netherlands (forgotten incident) and England, Barcelona are hoping that Suarez isn’t the accident waiting to happen that everyone says he is, and he’ll somehow find a way to control these urges to f@#$ it all up for no good reason.
FIFA made a mockery of the word justice by giving Suarez that punishment. It’s better to break someone’s leg on purpose than to bite another player. However, Suarez can’t complain, not after all he’s done. Whether he’ll be back in September or later on, just before the Clasico, this is once again an uphill battle against public opinion and negative perception, needing his football talent to prove everybody wrong. It’s hard to shine next to Messi, but Suarez and Barcelona can’t afford him not to.