opinions | 2015-04-07
'That Guy' Suárez
The Uruguayan has earned his place at the club
Luis Suárez. Yes, “that guy”. A single name that can provoke many radically-different views. While some will assert that he is the most complete 9 in European football nowadays, others will claim that he is a diver and a racist who has mental problems. Some refuse to even call him by name.
In the past year, the world has seen the best and the worst of Luis Suárez. We've seen him net an astonishing 31 league goals in the Premier League to lead the charge to almost seize the Premier League title for Liverpool, but we've also seen him sink his teeth into an opposing team defender. We’re not here to disregard the mistake he made; what Suárez did was wrong, but the way he is being treated by fans around the world has been, at times, unfair.
Over the past few years, it's been relatively simple to understand where this hatred was spewing from. Suárez is a fantastic striker that has been tearing through teams like they were nothing. Supporters of opposing clubs will find anything to cling to in order to discredit his successes, especially considering the presence of the nonsensical English media. But, just recently, I’ve been far more worried about something else: The culé infighting regarding our brand new Uruguayan striker.
Barcelona’s motto of being “Més que un club” (“More than a club”) has been inaccurately utilized as an emblem to attack Suárez. Being “més que un club” isn’t about assembling a completely flawless squad that does no wrong. In fact, part of Suárez’ flaws is what makes him as ruthless of a striker as he is. “There is something about the way I play that is unconscious, for better or worse. I want to release the tension and the pressure, but I don’t want to lose the spontaneity in my game, much less the intensity of my style of play,” Suárez recounts in his biography, Crossing The Line: My Story.
If doing no wrong was a prerequisite to representing us, footballers like Romário, Diego Maradona, and Hristo Stoichkov would have to be turned away from a club like ours, as they've all made their own fair share of mistakes. FC Barcelona is a democratic club that is about accepting people for their mistakes and giving them a second chance. Our club's roots originate from a time where Barça was a safe haven for those that were different, and our club's true values have to be respected. Barcelona is not a club that is about blindly shunning a player for being different or for making a mistake. Yes, Suárez made a mistake, but the way he is treated makes it appear as though he is the only person in the entire world who has ever made a mistake.
Suárez is a player that many seem to love to hate. He’s a player that has made mistakes in his life, yet the hatred that is thrown in his direction is unfair. He has bitten three players in his career, and, obviously, he deserved to be punished for his actions. He had paid his debt to the world of football in the form of a four-month ban from official matches and a nine-match international ban, he has sought help to prevent his mistakes from occurring again, and he has returned.
Since returning, Suárez has scored decisive goals in matches against Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid, Paris Saint Germain, and Manchester City this year, and his first season has not even ended. With four goals in 437 minutes in this season’s UEFA Champions League campaign, Suárez has already scored more goals in the Champions League for our club than our previous wearer of the coveted number 9 jersey, Alexis Sánchez, who played for us for three full seasons.
In his first four months at the club, Suárez has bettered the scoring record of Ibrahimović, Neymar, Ronaldinho, Henry, and Sánchez, and has equalled Villa's record at 13 goals. Although it took Suárez a couple of months to find his true finishing boots, he was, and is, contributing in the form of creation as well. Of the forwards in the top five leagues who've played at least 1,000 minutes this season, Suárez has the second-most assists per 90 minutes. Being second is even more impressive when you consider that he's only second to Lionel Messi, with his rate of 0.54 assists per 90 to Messi's slightly superior 0.55. Despite this, there were claims just a couple of months into Suárez’ acclimation to our club, that Suárez was (and apparently, to some, still is) a flop. They'd whine: “Why did we sell Alexis?” They'd cry: “Why didn't we sign Agüero?” They'd complain: “Why did we have to sign this cheat? This biter! This racist!”
If you are failing to paint an accurate portrait of what this loathing looks like, know that there are culés who loathe Suárez’ goal from El Clásico. Yes. Abhorring the fact that Suárez’ name has to appear beside the goal that won us the match, beat our eternal rivals, and put us in the driving seat in the race for La Liga, and simply because it was scored by El Pistolero. “Why did it have to be him?” I read a Twitter-user ask. Seeing the effects of the anti-Suárez propaganda creeping its way into the minds of culés and manifesting in such a horrible way is unequivocally unfair to Suárez.
The resultant damage to the victims, in these situations, is hardly being considered when discussing Suárez' indiscretions, versus those of players who have legitimately and unmistakably made the decision to injure a player. A player, Sergio Ramos, had once booted Messi on the side of the knee in the midst of El “Manita” Clásico in November 2010, with absolutely zero clear intention of winning the ball. The media and football viewers around the world barely blinked an eye, compared to when Suárez was escorted out of the World Cup and told to stay away from his teammates and all pitches in the world for months. Where were the attacks on Ramos’ mental health? Now, Suárez’ aggression, I feel it is safe to assume, was less dangerous than Ramos’, although it was definitely the more irregular indiscretion. Despite this, Suárez is being shunned by select supporters of his club! He was hated for having been the scorer of an El Clásico winner (which happened to be an absolute golazo, might I add)! Imagine supporters shunning Ramos for having scored against Atlético Madrid in last year’s Champions League Final. Unfathomable, right? Unfortunately, that is the kind of hostility that Luis is being treated with. Once again, it is worth mentioning that I am not here to disregard the mistakes Luis Suárez has made, yet I’m simply not exclusively looking at the mistakes Luis Suárez has made. He hasn't put a foot wrong since he joined the club, on or off the pitch, and all we can do is trust that he'll continue to perform as he has.
I urge you, fight for the man who is fighting for us. He is on the pitch, representing our colors, shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of our army. Constantly battling and ever improving, he is a gladiator. Suárez is a dog that never gives up, and he charges until the final whistle blows. He gives his all for the Blaugrana shirt. Suárez once said that he appreciates what the club has done to bring him here “because [he is] realizing [his] dream, to play for Barça.” For the sake of Futbol Club Barcelona, we culés need to unify the Barça supporters to help Suárez help Barça, because “Tots Units Fem Força”, “Together We Are Stronger”, and Luis Suárez has shown that he deserves our support now more than ever.
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