On Suarez and Life


Many of the hidden gemstones containing crucial life lessons can be discovered through sport. This note is for all the football fans out there, in particular those embroiled in their love-hate relationship with Luis Suarez.

On Suarez and Life

Luis Suarez is a football genius. One silky touch takes him away from two defenders, and with a swing of his right boot he rockets the ball in from thirty yards out, rattling the net as he revels in his ecstatic celebrations.

The Good and The Bad

Love him or hate him, the moments of magic he produces on the pitch are taken straight from the top drawer. But before we drool over his runs, flicks and spectacular goals, let us take a moment and refresh our memory of his not-so-glorious moments. Countless unnoticed dives and dirty fouls, a World Cup handball, a World Cup bite, an Ivanovic bite, and uncontrolled losses of temper…

“Beep”. The referee’s whistle blows and it’s a Liverpool free kick. What the hell happened? I’m sure Carrick didn’t even touch Suarez let alone foul him!

“Oh, not again”, I’m thinking as the replay shows up on the big screen. Suarez diving for the umpteenth time and getting away with it again.

I’m sure the vast majority of football fans have witnessed this situation. Why do referees keep falling for these tricks? Because they have to judge by their naked eye, and if they aren’t paying attention, they are susceptible to being duped by class-A tricksters like Suarez. He may say, feigning the highest degree of innocence:

“Michael, what the f**k? You touched me first! Look, ref, Michael’s trying to pretend like nothing happened, right Steven?” (I will refer to this as “line 1”)

I can foresee with great confidence that a referee may well fall for that.

Does it really matter that line 1 represents unscrupulousness in its highest form?

Getting Away Every Time?

The incentive to deceive referees is always strong given that a ref’s final decision is not based on the truth, but what appears most convincing in the absence of real-time technology. It’s always your story against my story. I can make whatever crap up and you won’t know whether I’m telling the truth or not. And not to mention – I won’t get punished in the majority of instances because you probably can’t prove my guilt within the five-second window that you have before you have to make your call.

But there comes a point where everything accumulates and you get caught out a few times. Sanctions start piling up, and your reputation plummets. You get banned from football for a few months.

Next time you don’t dive but actually get fouled by Carrick. Say line 1 again – this time the ref won’t buy your explanation. Why? Because your name is Luis Suarez. Because you’ve been such a lying b****rd who’s barely ever owned up, and the ref can’t trust you anymore. It’s not because the ref doesn’t want to believe you, but simply because he cannot afford to. With his job on the line, he doesn’t want to muck up again, and would rather be safe than sorry.

This is what’s preventing Suarez from reaching the highest echelon.

And if this is happening to Suarez, how much more so does this apply to aggressive tricksters without Suarez’s footballing genius?

Trust, Dishonesty and Self-Protection

Now imagine that Suarez never dived, never lost his temper and played his football honestly without those dirty tactics. Refs would want to believe him, and will most definitely lend a great deal of credibility to anything coming out of his mouth. Say line 1 again, and the ref is very likely to buy your explanation. You’re an honest Suarez, and because of your skill, the ref would want to reward you by doing justice to you.

In any event, referees simply can’t afford to repose trust in serial liars who don’t admit their dishonesty until they run out of cover-ups. They can’t afford to trust those who’ve already deceived them on many occasions. Indeed, Suarez might be telling the truth this time. Of course the ref wants to trust him again and restore things to how they were before knowing of his antics. But at the end of the day, the ref just can’t get himself to trust Suarez again – it’s only fair for Suarez not to have another “bite” at the cherry.

Concluding note

Our friends and family will be our real-life refs – stay true to ourselves, and our refs will stay true to us too. Lose their trust and there’s potentially no way back, not because they don’t want to, but simply because they can’t afford to.

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