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Luis Suarez: biting and what it says about our expectations in sport

By Mal Fletcher - posted Thursday, 26 June 2014

Luis Suarez is in the news again today - sadly, for all the wrong reasons.

Much of the international sporting press is abuzz today with photos and reports on the alleged biting incident involving the Uruguan football star.

Allegedly, the man who only days ago ended England's World Cup dreams bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder. Cameras appear to have captured some of the incident, in a match that would later see Italy defeated 1-0.


This sorry episode might give us pause to consider the culture within top tier football.

After all, if biting is proven, this will be the third time this hugely gifted forward has committed the same offence. I'm far from an officianado on football, but even I know that Mr. Suarez was involved in biting incidents while playing for Ajax and then Liverpool.

In spite of this, earlier this week he remained in the crosshairs of recruiters for Barcelona and Real Madrid, two of Europe's largest clubs.

There is another side to this saga, though. It has to do with the way we, as a wider culture, treat top sportspeople - and celebrities in general. And whether we are, by tolerating bad behaviour, really helping them develop as well-rounded human beings.

In areas of our cultural life that are particularly important to us, especially sport and show-business, we are arguably far more tolerant of bad behaviour than would otherwise be the case.

This will remain true whether or not the response from football's governors turns out to be a very strict one in the Suarez case.


As a BBC interviewer put it to me this morning, 'I can't imagine keeping my job if I bit someone at work even once, much less twice or more!'

The fact is, when it comes to top tier sports, we often place much more emphasis on innate talent than we do on deliberately developed character.

This type of ends-justifies-means thinking just wouldn't be entertained in other spheres of life.

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Click here for Mal Fletcher's BBC interview on this issue.


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About the Author

Mal Fletcher is a media social futurist and commentator, keynote speaker, author, business leadership consultant and broadcaster currently based in London. He holds joint Australian and British citizenship.

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