As Wimbledon rolls around I have been thinking back to the greatness of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. And with Luis Suarez being the man on everybody’s lips at the moment, I couldn’t help but think about what these iconic sports stars have in common. It is not only greatness… they are all famous for having lost control on the playing field. Is it anger? Frustration? Passion? Call it what you may, but each of these guys ‘crossed the line’ in the eyes of the public. For the life of me I have been trying to understand what it’s all about. Suarez’s situation is such a pity: I think we are going to lose one of the best footballers from the World Cup because of nothing but pure stupidity.
What’s with this behaviour? How could Suarez go so far? Some sports psychologists say that it can happen in high-pressure situations concerning winning and losing. When people get angry the heart beats faster, blood pressure rises and then testosterone levels can rise, that’s when people lose control. Psychologist Dr Saima Latif, feels that Suarez’s behaviour of biting is a habitual and a child-like behaviour. He goes on to state that biting is an act of frustration, stress and loss of control. At the time of the incident Suarez is likely to have felt humiliated and put down in some way and wanted to get one over on his opponent. Most people know how to deal with such emotions in an adult environment. Somewhere along the line in his life as a young boy he was never taught how to deal with these types of frustrations in a normal, rational manner. It is stated that perhaps his biting started as a young child and was triggered by something; perhaps he was bitten himself. In any event, he needs help.
I don’t mean to trivialise this in any way, but I almost agree with the sentiments of Ian Wright when he said he feels sorry for him. Regardless of his status, talent or salary, the fact of the matter is that the boy needs help. Suarez’s embarrassing attempts to deny culpability and shift the blame is further evidence of a childlike mentality. If you have children then you’ll know all too well that when they are confronted with the consequences of their actions they will try to deflect the blame or change the story. The crucial element of Suarez’s story is that this is not a one-off – he has a history.
So, here we are at one of the World’s greatest sporting events and the talking point thus far is not the great goals that Van Persie, Messi or Suarez have scored; we are all talking about Luis Suarez’s sinking his teeth into his opponent. I will be surprised if Suarez is allowed to play on, which would really be a pity for the World Cup in general. Let’s hope that wherever this fantastic athlete plays next year – whether it’s Liverpool or somewhere in Spain – he is able to get psychological help so that we can talk about his greatness as a footballer!