Suarez, I forgive you for the 'bite'. As long as you don't leave Liverpool FC

I've seen nastier things done on a football field. Let's try and get some perspective

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It was just a bite. A little nibble. Brief contact between one man’s teeth and another man’s shoulder. No reason to get carried away.

I’m still not entirely sure it was a bite. The first few times I watched the replays of Luis Suarez titling into Giorgio Chiellini’s neck, I thought it was a head butt gone wrong. Having now watched it dozens of times (like everyone else), it does look as if there is a downward movement of mouth to shoulder.   

And yet - don’t laugh – what accurately constitutes a bite? The primary dictionary definition is “to cut, grip, or tear with or as if with the teeth”. If Suarez deliberately and consciously tried to cut, grip or tear with his pearly whites, would he really roll around the floor clutching at them - the suspected weapons at the scene of the crime? He does, after all, have some strikingly prominent, protruding incisors. It’s surely possible they came into contact with Chiellini’s shoulder accidently, as Suarez will no doubt claim.

I’m biased, I admit. As a Liverpool fan, I’m trying to mount a rather pathetic defence of our star striker, one that I’m not confident would enjoy much success in a FIFA disciplinary committee hearing.

Regardless of how consciously he pierced Italian skin, Suarez looks very obviously the instigator of the clash. FIFA, having examined video evidence and started disciplinary proceedings, will no doubt issue a hefty match ban.

So why would he do it? Why would he lunge toward Chiellini for no apparent reason? Here’s my own theory. It’s one born out of paranoia, so bare with me. Suarez appears to wish to leave Liverpool FC and engineer a move to Real Madrid or possibly Barcelona. Some twisted part of the Uruguayan might just be crazy enough to want to create trouble, to invite the kind of on-field controversy which provokes a media storm.

Read more: Watch Suarez 'bite' Chiellini
Fifa statement on Suarez 'bite'
'Suarez is a target of the press,' says Tabarez

Yet another furore makes it easier for Suarez and his management to claim he needs a fresh start in Spain. They can blame the English press for failing to leave him alone or focus on his abilities (conveniently forgetting he was made Player of the Year by the Football Writers Association only last month).

Any transfer deal involving the huge sums being gossiped about is always difficult to pull off. Perhaps the extra baggage Suarez has now added to his “brand” makes a deal slightly more likely. Perhaps he knows this, instinctively. Real Madrid or Barcelona will still desire his talents and brush away any idea of tarnished reputation. But Liverpool, despite the striker’s goal-scoring brilliance, may finally be more willing to wash their hands of him.

Far-fetched? Psychobabble? Quite possibly. It’s just a theory. Maybe the guy just has a problem with his temper on the pitch sometimes, and when he loses his temper, he takes a bit out of people in the near vicinity.  

But we should try to get the incident in some perspective. Suarez remains unlikely to badly hurt anyone. He is not a high-risk offender. And I have seen far nastier, more vindictive and wilfully harmful things done on a football field.

As a Liverpool fan, I just hope he is there on the team sheet when the new season starts on August 16. The football field is a realm detached from the real world. What happens there has very little to do with all the usual reasons we might make moral judgments or character assessments.

Suarez: please stay. I forgive you. In truth there wasn’t really much to forgive. 

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