“Oh! what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!”
Walter Scott, Scottish Novelist & Playwright
Deception is common place in football and no one should be in the least bit surprised when a player acts in a deceptive manner. Every time a match is played around the world deception is rife. Whether it be players, diving and feigning injury, managers, claiming players are unfit and then starting them moments later, and of course, owners, who promise the earth and deliver only dirt.
Where would the ‘beautiful game’ be without it? Answers on the back of a crisp £50 note!
To cheat and deceive a fellow player is common place and trying to get an opponent sent-off or trying to win a dodgy penalty is one, very unpleasant aspect, that haunts the planet’s number one sport. Any player doing so is immediately ridiculed and labelled as a cheat with a thousand and one images and slow-motion replays to prove so.
Of course, in the vast majority of cases, such un-sportsmanlike behaviour is quickly forgotten by the supporters and also the media, who are keen to look for the next victim/offender to take over the back pages.
In the case of Luis Alberto Suarez Diaz, or Luis Suarez to you and me, this is a cautionary tale of Machiavellian proportions. Never before, well at least not for a week or so anyway, has any player disrespected his employers, his supporters, his teammates and the good name of football in general, in such a brutal and disgraceful fashion.
Machiavellianism is derived from the Italian Renaissance diplomat and writer Niccolò Machiavelli. His masterpiece was called Il Principe (The Prince), and as a political scientist, he emphasized the occasional need for the methodical exercise of brute force and deceit.
The book is centered around maxims regarding politics and a hereditary Prince. If the Prince is to keep hold of power he must maintain the socio-political institutions that have kept the country breathing and to the people who have become accustomed to such. A new Prince however, must begin by stabilising his power to build a solid political structure. Morality in private and public must be kept separated, meaning that the Prince must be concerned with his public reputation but also be willing, when occasions demand, to act immorally.
One suspects that Liverpool’s Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez may well have read a Spanish translation at some point as he continues to embody the very Prince to which Machiavelli is referring. Unfortunately for him, the modern-day Premier League footballer has no private life and what happens in public and private is what defines the man.
During his spell at Ajax, Suarez was ranked up there with the very best to wear the famous white and red. A return of 111 goals in 159 games was enough to see the Prince of Amsterdam become King. However, as with all good Machiavellian & Shakespearian tales, moves were afoot to depose the King, and the hierarchy of Ajax were no different.
Stories of fallouts with teammates, biting opponents, for which his vampiric tendencies resulted in a seven game ban, and general disobedience and failure to fall in line with the codes of conduct demanded from top flight footballers, meant that the writing was on the wall and Ajax would be looking to cash in.
Normally a player with such a proven goalscoring record would command figures upwards of £30 million plus. After all, fellow new Anfield recruit Andy Carroll signed for the Reds at the same time and he cost £35 million, despite a goals to game average well below that of Suarez. The final transfer fee was £22.8 million. Well below the going rate for such an accomplished player.
Any one of the big European sides would have shelled out that money for him. Why did he sign for Liverpool? Of course, the Merseysiders are a legendary name in club football the world over but they are not the force they once were. No title chasing for this current Liverpool side and hardly a place to get the trophy cabinet bulging. Why did none of the other clubs make a bid to comparable with Liverpool’s?
The answer is already known to Ajax and that’s why they got rid of him. Liverpool may well have known that would be inheriting trouble but would have reckoned that the price was worth the risk.
On the plus side the performances of Luis Suarez have eclipsed his transfer fee and show that in ability, skill and a few goals alone the £22.8 million was a bargain. However, where there is a Ying there must also be a Yang…..and what a Yang Suarez is!!
The combustable 25 year-old was charged in November of last year for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra. A charge that was upheld and for which Suarez quite rightly received an eight match ban.
The Suarez, and Liverpool, defence was basically down to Suarez being a foreigner and because he’s a foreigner he doesn’t understand that racism isn’t tolerated in this country. At least that’s what it sounded like to these most English of ears! Not a great defence on which to base your case and it was duly flung into the bin along with the various other excuses and reasons given for Suarez’s actions.
Liverpool’s reaction to his charge was pathetic in the extreme as manager Kenny Dalglish joined his player’s well-meaning, if totally inappropriate, support for his star player by wearing a Suarez t-shirt before the fixture against Wigan. All of Liverpool’s history of good work in combating racism flushed down the nearest toilet in the blink of an eye.
Manager’s publicly backing their players, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, is not a new tactic. Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson is a master of this skill and continues it to this very day, hypocritically in the eyes of many.
On Saturday lunchtime when Luis Suarez refused to shake the outstretched hand of Patrice Evra in a mark of ‘moving on’ he may well have yanked down the curtain on his brief Anfield career.
In the build-up to the game all connected with the club where united in their belief that Suarez would do the right thing and shake Evra’s hand no matter how degrading he thought it would be on his part. Failure of Suarez to see the bigger picture has brought trouble and grief on him, his manager and his employers and that won’t be forgiven easily.
By so staunchly and passionately defending Suarez, Liverpool backed themselves into a corner. The fact that until yesterday they still defended Suarez shows how deep this club have fallen into a Machiavellian trap.
A trio of grovelling apologies from Suarez, Dalglish and Chief Executive Ian Ayre have stemmed the initial bloodlust from media and the football public, but was their contrition genuine or has Suarez’s year-long spell at Anfield had a significant impact off the pitch as well as on it?
For those of you who have never read Il Principe I shall not reveal all of it’s treatise here but I shall instead leave you with a quote from Chapter 15.
“He who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation.”
That sounds about right to me.
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