The Suarez Dilemma: Wenger Wants Him. You Don’t. Who Is Right?

What’s the score?!

Welcome to another week of “What’s the score?!” – This week I am having the day off, so Batmandela (a.k.a @invinciblog) who many of you may
not realise is the guy responsible for the site design, layout and efficient
running of Gunners Town, is writing
this week’s blog. He is an accomplished writer in his own right, as well as
being a passionate Gooner. For those of you, who don’t follow him on twitter,
please get following him now!

Before handing over to Bats, just a few words
on an exciting week. As many of you may know, @goonerdave66 @FindingCotton and myself @jeremylebor, were invited to attend
the Arsenal away kit unveil and had the opportunity of interviewing Carl
Jenkinson and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain afterwards. Both great lads by the way.
The afternoon events, together with the interviews are available here
if you missed it… ‘Strip Tease, Arsenal
Style – Jenko Up Close – Ox Encounter!’



Wants Him. You Don’t. Who Is Right?

By Batmandela

[Breaking News: As I
write this I am informed that last week Arsenal made a £30m bid for Suárez, which
was rejected. Arsenal have a second bid of £36m prepared. Liverpool want £40m.
Wenger wants Suárez.]

The silly season twists and turns quicker than a hungry eel.
Trying to follow transfer deals is a little like herding cats. Or pushing
string. (And about as much fun). We’re all desperate for something to hang our
hopes on for the season ahead – but there’s little to show for the wheeling and
dealing of the past few weeks. Rumours. Hopes. ITK fabrications. Spin and lies.

But that’s the nature of the beast, isn’t it?

It’s a bit like having a baby, really. There’s the matchmaking.
The flirting. The courtship. Then, a mutual willingness to do the hokey-pokey.
A lot of grunting and groaning – (I like it like that!)… A short wait until there’s a visible lump. But even then,
it’s a little early to start giving the lump names… Things can go wrong. They
often do.

Until the baby pops out – a player poses on the Emirates
emerald turf alongside a wryly-grinning Wenger – nothing is done.

Now, bearing that in mind – I am aware that this article is
entirely premature. It’s only been a few days since the Suárez bid became
public. Even then – it was ridiculed as rubbish at first. The story then gained
traction, but was dismissed as a ploy to pressurize Real Madrid into releasing
our true target, Higuaín.

But after reading the papers the last few days, scanning the
Twits, and listening to the brilliant Bergkamp Wonderland podcast – it became apparent
to me that perhaps Suárez is the
striker Arsenal are pinning their hopes on.

Now, using the baby analogy above – I’m not sure what stage
the parents are at in the process. For all I know, they haven’t even made out
yet. However, considering the nature of this particular beast – there are some
things I’d like to say, premature or not.

My intention is to fill you in on Luis Suárez, and some of
the controversy that surrounds him. He is a brilliant footballer who comes with
a lot of baggage. (He’s a bit like that luggage you love that weighs more than
your baggage allowance…) Suárez has been tried in the kangaroo court that is
the British Press, and everyone has a strong opinion about him. Love him or
hate him. He’s that divisive.

He’s a genius wrapped up in a monster. Or so we’re led to
believe. Should we sign him? Or not.

That’s the Suárez


I, like many others, only became aware of Luis Suárez when
he came to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. Despite the fact that it was
Diego Forlán who was knocking them in for Uruguay – Suárez was drawing attention
in the knockout stages with his agility and drive. Notching up three goals –
which, by the way, is three more than Messi and Rooney combined, he played like
a man possessed.

But then came The
Ghana Incident
: the Ghana v Uruguay quarter-final – a match which meant so much to Africans – the first time an
African team could make it through to the semi-finals; the last African team
left standing in a tournament hosted for the first time on that continent… In
the final minute of extra-time Ghana were bombarding the Uruguayan goal. It was
relentless. And after 120 minutes of nail-bitingly fierce competition, it
seemed as if the African team would prevail.

Then, literally seconds before the final whistle, Dominic
Adiyah’s header was batted out of the goal mouth by Suárez. It was shocking.
Incomprehensible. A certain goal – and all that would mean for Ghana, for
Africa – denied.

According to the rules, Luis Suárez was red-carded, and
Ghana were awarded a penalty. Which Asamoah Gyan missed, hitting the crossbar,
in what would be the last kick of extra-time.

Luis Suárez was shown watching the penalty on a TV screen in
the tunnel. His unbridled joy only served to make my gut-wrenching agony that
much worse.

in training I play goalkeeper so it was worth it. There was no alternative but
for me to do that and when they missed the penalty I thought ‘It’s a miracle
and we are alive in the tournament.

‘Hand Of God’ now belongs to me.”

I cannot begin to describe how much ill I wished upon Suárez
at that time. I cursed him to Hell and back. I wished him lifetimes-full of bad
karma. A lot of people did.

Although I can guarantee you, none of them were Uruguayan.

Suárez was vilified, rightly or not, for his role. Whether
it was cheating or not, whether the Rules were (are) inadequate – these are
discussions for another time and place.

(In rugby, a ‘cynical’ foul in a try-scoring situation would
lead to a penalty try awarded between the posts, pretty much guaranteeing a
conversion, and thereby adding extra ‘punishment’. But in rugby they have video
referrals: a fourth match official (the TMO) can be called on to make decisions
that the on-field officials could not see. As we all know – FIFA, and head
honcho Sep Blatter are averse to any kind of technology ensuring that crucial
decisions are correct decisions. Goal-line technology is set to be introduced
this season, but how often is there a goal-line dispute? Anyhow – I digress…)


I pretty much forgot about Suárez for a year or so. And then
suddenly, mid-season 2011, Liverpool brought him to the Premier League – having
bought him for £22.8m from Ajax, where he had captained the side and scored 109
goals for the club in all competitions. (81 goals in 108 Eredivisie appearances,
including a remarkable 49 goals in 48 games in the 2009/10 season.)

Suárez arrived in England with some unwanted baggage to add
to the reputation for cheating which he had acquired in South Africa… The Bakkal Incident: In November 2010,
in what turned out to be his final game for Ajax, Suárez had bitten PSV Eindhoven
defender, Otman Bakkal – supposedly because Bakkal had stamped on his foot. He received
a seven match ban for the assault. See below:

In his Liverpool debut, Suárez endeared himself to Liverpool
fans by scoring against Stoke. He went on to score 4 goals in 13 Premier League

Suárez then had an outstanding Copa America tournament in
the summer of 2011, scoring 4 goals in 6 matches – including the opening goal
in the final against Paraguay – and was named Player Of The Tournament.

In his first full season for Liverpool, Suárez performed
admirably – 17 goals from 39 appearances.  (Although he seemed to hit the post as often as he scored.
Karma, anyone?) He continued to divide opinion – being, on the one hand, an
immensely talented and watchable footballer: technically brilliant, a fantastic
finisher, and a team player to boot. On the other hand, his gamesmanship was
obvious. He very quickly won himself the label of ‘diver’, which tainted his
growing reputation, and drew him unwanted attention from the press, the fans
and the referees.

But he played a huge role in helping Liverpool reach the FA
Cup Final, and win the Carling (League) Cup – which ended Liverpool’s 6-year
trophy drought.

And then came The Evra
, which I will explore in depth later on. Suárez was found guilty
of (probably) racially abusing Patrice Evra, when Anfield hosted Manchester
United at Anfield for their first League encounter. He was given an eight-match
ban and fined £40,000. 
Controversially, he seemed to refuse to shake Evra’s hand
before the return fixture, which didn’t endear him any further. He quickly
became the Bad Boy of British football, and was the subject of fan abuse and
scathing press.

For Liverpool, who stood behind him during the Evra Incident
fall-out, the good outweighed the bad. He contributed some notable performances
– most memorable, perhaps, the hat-trick against Norwich in April 2012.

Suárez then appeared for Uruguay in the London Olympics,
where supporters booed him during each of his three games. In their final group
game, against Team Britain, in Cardiff, he was booed during the performance of
the Uruguayan national anthem, which upset Suárez immensely. Team-mate Sebastian
Coates had this to say:

tired of this situation with Luis. I think it has gone too far and I don’t like
to see him being treated like this. I know the kind of person he is, and I
think the abuse he gets is very unfair.”

Suárez returned to Liverpool for the 2012/13 season, and was
rewarded with a new long-term contract. He seemed to carry the Liverpool squad,
scoring a massive 30 goals from 44 appearances in all competitions, and looking
likely to pip Robin van Persie at the post for the Golden Boot.

Then, in April 2013, Suárez bit Chelsea defender Ivanovic
and was subsequently banned for ten matches. He was ineligible for the final 4
matches of the season. Van Persie won the golden boot. And once again Luis Suárez
found himself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Suárez offered an apology as quick as it was contrite:

am deeply sorry for my inexcusable behaviour earlier today during our match
against Chelsea. I apologize also to my manager, playing colleagues and
everyone at Liverpool Football Club for letting them down.”

As was expected, Liverpool’s manager and fans once again
stood behind their best player.


Talk of Suárez’s desire to leave Liverpool (and indeed
England, with its relentless Press), coupled with supposed interest from Real
Madrid was a constant theme during the pre-transfer window. Liverpool, and
manager Brendan Rogers, however, made it clear that they had every intention to
hang on to the striker.

None of this seemed particularly relevant for Arsenal, who
appeared to have set their sights on want-away Real Madrid striker, Gonzalo Higuaín.
However, the Higuaín deal looked like slipping slowly from “done” to ”gone”.

And then news of Arsenal’s Suárez bid hit the papers.
Ridiculed at first, it became quickly apparent that this smoke did have fire.
Which leads me to the point of this article.

Twitter exploded – with the majority of Arsenal fans
vehemently opposed to signing the controversial Uruguayan. Their reason?

Suárez is a racist.
Arsenal is no place for racists.


Here is video of the incident.

(I suggest turning your sound down, unless you want to hear an irrelevant rock song soundtrack)

The following timeline is taken from The Telegraph article
on the Suárez-Evra race row. I have included it here verbatim for easier

The foul

In the
58th minute of Liverpool’s home game with Manchester United in October, striker
Luis Suárez kicks United defender Patrice Evra on the knee and a foul is given.

The row

In the
62nd minute, Suárez wins a corner and jogs into the United area, where he is
being marked by Evra. The two players then become involved in a heated
argument, in Spanish:

PE: F—— hell, why did you kick me?

LS: Because you’re black.

PE: Say it to me again, I’m
going to kick you.

LS: I don’t speak to blacks.

PE: OK, now I think I’m going
to punch you.

LS: OK, blackie, blackie,

As Suárez is speaking, he pinches Evra’s left forearm. As
referee Andre Marriner stops play, Suárez uses the term “negro” to Evra again,
prompting an angry reaction from Evra, who tells Marriner he has been racially

Marriner tries to calm the situation, but as the players
walk away, Suárez puts his hand on the back of Evra’s head and the defender
knocks his arm away.

Marriner intervenes again; Evra says he does not want Suárez
to touch him, prompting the Uruguayan to say: “Why, black?”

The booking

An exchange between Dirk Kuyt and Evra ends with the
Frenchman shoving the Liverpool striker in the chest. He is booked by Marriner
and warned to calm down by Ryan Giggs. Evra tells Giggs he has been racially

The United dressing room

Evra is visibly agitated as he returns to the United
dressing room, with four players – Nani, Antonio Valencia, Javier Hernández and
Anderson – all testifying that Evra claimed Suárez had told him he would not
talk to him because he was black. Valencia and Anderson tell Evra to speak to
Sir Alex Ferguson.

The referee’s room

Ferguson goes to the referee’s room with Evra. He tells
Marriner that “Evra has been called a nigger by one of the Liverpool players”.
Evra offers his account and Ferguson says United want to make a formal
complaint. Marriner, having asked Phil Dowd, the fourth official, to make notes
of the exchange, assures him he will include the incident in his official
report when he files it to the Football Association.

The tunnel

Ray Haughan, Liverpool’s team administration manager,
overhears the conversation in the referee’s room while waiting in the tunnel
and goes to tell Liverpool’s team management. Haughan tells Damien Comolli and
Kenny Dalglish that Ferguson has alleged Suárez called Evra “a nigger five

The Liverpool dressing room

Comolli, a fluent Spanish speaker, talks to Suárez to
ascertain his version of events. Suárez says nothing untoward has happened, but
admits using the term “negro” in response to Evra saying: “Don’t touch me,
South American”. Comolli relates Suárez’s remarks to Dalglish before Dowd arrives
to ask Dalglish and Suárez to come to the referee’s room.

The referee’s room

Dalglish arrives to see Marriner and Dowd without Suárez.
Marriner tells him the substance of Evra’s allegations and warns that a formal
compliant has been made, before Dalglish leaves.

A few minutes later, Comolli arrives in the referee’s room
and relates his conversation with Suárez. Dowd asks Comolli to spell “Tu es
negro” – “You are black”. Comolli claims there has been a mistranslation and
that Suárez did not use the term ‘nigger’.

The interview

Evra is asked for an interview by a French journalist
working for Canal+. Before the interview begins, the
journalist asks Evra why he is upset; the defender explains he has been
racially abused. The journalist interviews Evra, who says he was abused “10

The report

Marriner writes up his match report that evening, including
an Extraordinary Incident Report Form where he details the allegations against
Suárez, using Dowd’s handwritten notes, which he later throws away.

The defence

Suárez, having become aware of Evra’s allegations on French
television, posts a message on his Facebook page, personal website and Twitter
account, saying he is “upset by the accusations” and insisting that he has
“always respected and respect everybody”.

The hearing

On Dec 20 the FA concludes a seven-day hearing, handing
Suárez an eight-match ban and a £40,000 fine for racially abusing Evra.

The findings

On Dec 31, the FA releases the contents of their findings in
a 115-page report.

In it the FA says that Suárez has “damaged the image of
English football around the world”. The FA, while finding Evra to be a
credible witness, declares that Suárez’s evidence is unreliable and
inconsistent with the video footage.

The panel concludes that “Suárez’s use of the term
[negro] was not intended as an attempt at conciliation or to establish rapport;
neither was it meant in a conciliatory and friendly way.”

Suárez was also warned that two similar offences in the
future could lead to “a permanent suspension”.

The ban

Suárez accepts an eight-match suspension prior to the game
against Manchester City on Jan 3rd claiming he would serve his ban with the
“resignation of someone who hasn’t done anything wrong”.

Liverpool are scathing of the three-man independent
commission which finds Suárez guilty of abusing Evra suggesting, in a statement
issued with the full support of the club’s American owners, that the panel was
“highly subjective” in its verdict.

“It is our strongly held conviction that the Football Association
and the panel it selected constructed a highly subjective case against Luis
Suárez based on an accusation that was ­ ultimately unsubstantiated,” the club

The return

Suárez returns to action in the 0-0 draw against Tottenham
on Feb 6.

The handshake…or lack of

Suárez opting not to shake Evra’s hand as the players
conducted their traditional pre-match greeting when Liverpool travelled to Old
Trafford – the Uruguayan’s first start since serving an eight-match ban.

The fall out

Suárez’s actions prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to brand Suárez
a “disgrace to Liverpool” before urging the club to “get rid” of him. After the
match, Kenny Dalglish claimed he “didn’t know” Suárez had refused Evra’s
handshake before becoming embroiled in a feud with Sky Sports presenter Geoff

The apologies

Suárez issued an apology for his “mistake” in not
shaking Evra’s hand. His statement was followed by Liverpool managing director
Ian Ayre saying the club was misled by Suárez and criticized the Uruguayan for
failing to shake the hand of Evra.

Dalglish then said sorry for his conduct on TV before
Manchester United published a statement on their site accepting Liverpool’s

Note that the verbal exchanges in the above report
are based solely on Evra’s testimony.

  • For the full FA tribunal report – a lengthy but fascinating
    read – click here.


Seems pretty cut and dry, right?

is a racist

Therefore he deserved his ban. There’s no place for
people like that in Football, and we certainly
don’t want those Terry-ble Racist
types at our beloved club, dishonouring the jersey.

I must admit, that at the time – considering my deep and
long-held feelings of disgust/distrust for Suárez – I felt that the FA’s
findings were a foregone conclusion. And I shared the sentiments of the
previous paragraph. And criticized Liverpool for coming to Suárez’s defence,
and shaming themselves in the process.

  • For
    the full Liverpool statement, click here.

But then I got to thinking about the term “racist” – and
what it means.


Having been brought up in apartheid South Africa, I have
witnessed racism. I am a fifth-generation African, but I am what is known round
here as ‘white’. Of Russo-European descent, to be precise. So ‘witnessing racism’
in my case is not by any stretch of the imagination the same kind of
‘witnessing racism’ that my black countrymen experienced.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is thinking racist thoughts and 10 is sentencing an entire race to the gas chambers… Where does calling
someone a racial epithet fit? Is that above or below making monkey noises when
a black footballer is on the pitch? What about the Jews? Are they a race? Is
calling that lot down the road “Yids” a racial slur?

And is it a slippery slope from being a relatively
harmless “1” to becoming a cross-burning, mob-lynching “10”? Is calling someone
the N-Word a gateway to committing full-blooded racist crimes, like dope
supposedly leads to meth addiction and death?

And what of someone who uses an inappropriate,
culturally taboo, politically incorrect or indeed racist word in the spur of the moment. Or in jest. Or in heightened
or aggravated circumstances?

Does telling a single lie to get yourself out of a fix
make you a liar?

There have been a couple of memorable cases recently:
Sergio Garcia’s inappropriate comment about serving Tiger Woods fried chicken –
reminiscent of Fuzzy Zoeller’s similarly poor-taste remark at the 1997 US Open
brought Garcia the dreaded ‘racist’ brand, one which, 14 years later, Fuzzy
Zoeller still lives with.

Allegations that she used ‘racial slurs’ got celebrity
chef Paula Deen thrown into the ‘racist’ pot and lost her millions of dollars
of endorsements. Video of her telling a black friend to move away from the
black background because he’d ‘blend in’ didn’t help. (By the way – this hasn’t
stopped African-Americans from queueing round the block for a table at her

In Buddhism, they do not differentiate between thought,
word and deed. They are all equal in the Grand Scheme Of Things. So thinking a racist thought is the same as
actually doing it, karmically
speaking. But most of us aren’t Buddhists. We all constantly tread the grey
digits between 1 and 10.


In the 2006 World Cup Final, soccer legend and French
captain Zinedine Zidane was sent off for headbutting Italian defender Marco
Materazzi. Zidane apologized for his behaviour, but said:

can’t regret what I did because it would mean that he was right to say all that…
We always talk about the reaction, and obviously it must be punished. But if
there is no provocation, there is no need to react.”

Needless to say, Zidane has not been branded a lifetime thug
for the assault on the Italian defender. In fact, he received a lot of sympathy
because people wondered exactly what it was that had driven him to see red and…
well… see red.

But the reason I mention that story is because of the
aggravating circumstances that professional sportsmen find themselves in, when
competing on the world’s top stages in front of millions of people.

Whether certain players have a propensity for violence is
another debate altogether. Mike Tyson fought dozens of fights before he
resorted to biting Evander Holyfield’s ear. Was it merely a matter of time
before it happened? The “powder keg” theory… I’m not sure.

Luis Suárez has only received one red card in 23,292 minutes
on the field as a professional footballer. That’s approximately 260 games. And
64 yellow cards. Or one every four games. Considering that a number of those
yellows have been for “clean” fouls (i.e. gamesmanship) – one might be a bit
harsh for calling him a dirty player. He isn’t. If one uses the standard
definition, that is.


Suárez has, however bitten
two players… Which would be laughable if it wasn’t so shocking. I mean – what
kind of person actually bites another
human being? Even when blinded by rage or provoked? Spit on them, perhaps.
Throw a Gervinho-esque slap or two, possibly.

I think the kind of person that bites someone is actually in
need of psychological help. Therapy. This is not ordinary behaviour. It isn’t
excusable, and I am not ever going to condone it. But in the same way that a
drug addict or serial shoplifter needs therapy and rehabilitation rather than
prison time – I believe that Suárez needs professional help to deal with the
urge to bite that he seems unable to suppress.

In the Ivanovic case, Suárez explained his behaviour thus:

incident with Ivanovic – I know I made a mistake, it was me, my fault, and he
did not do anything to me. I was angry because I had given away a penalty for
hand ball. I was the cause of the penalty against my team – I saw red and
completely lost it. I can’t really explain it and I am so sorry.”

After the Bakkal incident, Suárez said:

I do not regret what happened. 
Normally I keep calm but I didn’t… I’m a little tired. This week I had
to travel a lot.’

Bakkal said of Suárez, after hearing about the Ivanovic

the time Suárez said it was a one-off gesture, but now he has repeated it. In
those years he has not learned his lesson. [He] needs to control his nerve and
temper on the pitch.

never provoked him. He was very angry and the reaction was to bite me on the
shoulder. He uses everything to try to distract defenders. I’ve never known
anything like it as a professional.”

It seems to me that Suárez needs some anger management. And
I’d strongly suggest that, should he sign for Arsenal (or anyone), his medical
includes a lengthy psychological as well.

In the words of George Bush:

me once. Shame on you. Bite me twice. Shame on… Well, heck. Third time, shy!”


Did you hear the
joke about Brian, the village elder?

Staring wistfully
into the distance, he says, to his youngest grandson: “I built thirteen bridges
– but do they call me Brian the Bridge-Builder? No. I built seven dams. Do they
call me Brian the Dam-Builder? No. I built a road all the way to the ocean –do
they call me Brian the Road-Builder. No.

But you f*ck ONE


Here are a few facts that bug me every time I try and answer
that question. (And I am indebted to a fantastic article by Paul Tomkins
dealing with this very question. You can read it here.)

  • Patrice Evra doesn’t think so. In his written statement to the FA, Evra wrote,  “I don’t think that Luis Suárez is racist”.
  • The FA, in their opening remarks, accepted that Luis Suárez was not a racist.
  • Chairman of anti-racism group, Kick
    It Out,
    Herman Ouseley said:This charge is not saying Luis Suárez is a
    racist. It’s saying, on this occasion, he used racist language. It doesn’t make
    him a bad guy – he needs to learn what is acceptable.”

So why do we insist on calling him a racist?

It is a terrible thing to call someone – especially
considering there are a number of anomalies in the Evra Incident that might
suggest that Suárez was not given a fair shake:

  • Forensic analysis of the video of the incident
    in question produced no evidence of Suárez’s
    use of the word Evra claims he used.
  • Suárez admitted openly to using the word Spanish
    ‘negrito’ – but only because usage of the word in his native Uruguay is not
    considered offensive – racial or otherwise. There’s
    a really interesting article here
  • Patrice Evra had been issued a 4-match ban and a
    £15,000 fine in a 2008 disciplinary case in which he had had an altercation
    with a Chelsea groundsman. At the time, the FA hearing at the time ruled that
    his evidence was “exaggerated and unreliable.”
  • Suárez’s paternal grandfather is black.
  • Patrice Evra admitted in his own evidence that
    he had insulted the striker, “in Spanish, using the most objectionable of
  • Liverpool believe important evidence was omitted
    from the hearing and questioned why Evra had the benefit of television replays
    to give his statement, while Suárez had to give his version of events from
  • Suárez didn’t have to be found guilty ‘beyond
    the benefit of doubt’. In fact, the FA tribunal admitted that there was only a
    strong ‘probability’ that he was guilty.
  • The FA might have had an agenda: to confront Sep
    Blatter on his apparent nonchalance about the Racism issue. Perhaps they were
    out to prove a point.

After being found guilty by the FA Commission, Suárez had
the following to say:

admitted to the commission that I said a word in Spanish once and only once. I
told the panel members that I will not use it again on a football pitch in

never, ever used this word in a derogatory way and if it offends anyone then I
want to apologize for that. I will serve the ban with the resignation of
someone who has done nothing wrong.”


I can’t defend Luis Suárez’s ‘bitiness’. But I believe that
with the good player management, psychological guidance and some anger
management, we could ensure that he doesn’t do it again. Or muzzle him.
Whichever is cheaper.

 By the way – if
he moves away from Liverpool during this transfer window, it will be the second time he has been punished for
biting in his last game at a club
. Coincidence?

I don’t believe Luis Suárez is a racist. And if the major principals in the Evra Incident
don’t believe he is a racist
why do
we persist on calling him one
? And why then would we use that as justification
for not wanting him to sign for Arsenal?

There are plenty of other reasons not to like Luis Suárez.
But ‘being a racist’ shouldn’t be one of them.

Racism is obviously a sensitive issue. But I think people
show extraordinary insensitivity when persisting on using a term when it is no
longer justified. Suárez has served his sentence for his ‘crime’. Time to
expunge it from his record.

There’s plenty for us to disagree on. But hopefully we can
all agree that he is one of the finest footballing talents playing today?

I leave you with this one question – the Suarez Dilemma:

Should we or shouldn’t we?


I know this has been an interminably long post. In fact, I’d
be surprised if anyone has bothered to read this far. I have been so busy,
work-wise, for the past couple of months, that I haven’t had time to blog. This
is a subject that I wanted to explore. Thanks for your patience.

Feel free to share your thoughts below. It’s a touchy issue,
and I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. Be civil. Also – never be afraid to
hit “Cancel”. That’s my motto!

Follow me on Twitter if you like. Whatever you do – keep
visiting Gunners Town. Your presence makes us better.


Batmandela (@invinciblog)


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26 Responses to The Suarez Dilemma: Wenger Wants Him. You Don’t. Who Is Right?

  1. Ilija Ludak July 13, 2013 at 8:13 am #

    All true Arsenal fans should visit this site: for latest news about their favorite club.

  2. Tom Wilson July 13, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    Never read this blog before but enjoyed a well written and researched article. One thing I believe is worthy of mention is that the things we see as problems in the UK are not big issues elsewhere. Luis was brought up in Uruguay where the cultural norms are very different to our own. It is a less tolerant society and certainly more racist. When we bring footballers to the UK we expect them to fit into our cultural norms and for the most part they do. But, like when a scouser who lives in London and adapts accent to fit in with his work colleagues, his accent might return when he becomes angry for example. Luis is like that. We have to accept that he is flawed, a flawed genius.
    We are one of the few countries in the world which makes an issue out of things such as the biting or racist comments. Even in Europe people do not think and behave the same way as the Brits.

    I want Luis at Arsenal and will be overjoyed if he comes and am happy to accept him warts and all.
    Venga Luis, llegado a Arsenal y llegar a ser un campeon
    Tom (gooner in Spain)

  3. George Gabriel July 13, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    This was probably the best thing I’ve read on anything football related in a long, long time. It raises some really interesting thoughts, and more than once I have asked myself the questions about Luis Suarez that you so brilliantly answered in this post. Could he do a job at Arsenal? Probably more than any other player in the Premier League. Can he change his ways? With Wenger, it’s possible.

    • July 13, 2013 at 11:01 am #

      Thanks so much, George. You’re very kind.

      It’s a sensitive issue, and obviously most poeple have pre-formed opinions about him. I really just wanted to flesh him out a little.

      I think he is a fantastic player, and should he sign for Arsenal, I think Wenger would be able to manage him.

      We’ll have to wait and see, I guess!

  4. damnUTECH July 13, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    I am African American and I watch Liverpool games just to see Suarez play. The guy is a footballing Genius. I have seen him interact with black people and he doesn’t shun them. I want to see him at Arsenal for his Brilliance. RVP had his share of disciplinary problems back in Holland and we took the chance and got him even when a lot of other clubs may have steered away. Lets sign him up.

    • July 13, 2013 at 10:59 am #

      That’s a great point. I appreciate you taking the time to respond. There’s no doubt that he is a top class player. It’s a lot of money to pay, but I think if Suarez found his groove at Arsenal he’d probably win the Golden Boot. He nearly won it at Liverpool, which must say something!

      Bear in mind – he would be banned for the first 6 games…

  5. Alfred Loh July 13, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    love the article, made me read on a player i have very little interest in and a fair amount (in my buddhist/oneness seeking perspective) dislike for.

    the bottom line for me personally as supporter of arsenal, as one who believes in wenger’s ideals and principles of the club, is that, suarez as a player, has more negatives than positives for the club, my faith in wenger and the stability of the club in this transfer season in particular (no big sales! no selling arsenal!) leave me in position to believe that even if sonogo and crowley are the only players we sign, we should be alright for next season.

    there is a tone that simply because of admissions of the club and manager of prior financial restrictions, and the lax of such restrictions now (lax, not complete removal) that the expectation has increased to the levels of "we must end the trophy drought" or more severely, "we must win the prem" this season, i believe that wenger can get us there, and will safely steer the club to such winning ways in the very near future, but to expect that because of larger than before seen transfer rumours this summer in particular, and already holding that beacon of expectation as a stick to judge the club by in 12 months is unreasonable to me.

    • July 13, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback.

      The genius footballer that is Luis Suarez would be fantastic to watch. But it is obvious that he brings a lot of ‘extra’ stuff with him. He’s also very very expensive. There are a number of reasons not to sign him – and the only one would be to harness that immense talent.

      We have other talent at the club – and I’d like to share your belief that we’d be OK without any further signings, but I think we need a world-class, proven striker. One who isn’t a potential liability would be a huge bonus!

  6. Ross N. C. Vince July 13, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

    You can debate whether Suarez is a racist or not until you’re blue in the face if it makes you feel better and more comfortable with the situation, but anyone using someones skin colour as a tool to abuse them, in my book, is completely and utterly unacceptable. If Suarez genuinely believed he could do so in England because people "can do" it in Uruguay then he really shouldn’t of been allowed a work permit in the UK as issues like this should be brought up when applying for work in such a high profile.

    Secondly there are thousands of footballers who have never ever had their "racial" morals questioned and who we could bid for and/or sign. This guy is nothing but bad news and I can’t believe Wenger wants him.

    If Arsenal do sign him, I for one will stop following and supporting them until the day he leaves.

    • July 13, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

      Thanks for the comment.

      The ‘do it’ that you refer to is the crux of the argument, really.

      I appreciate your position. I’m not professing to know the ‘truth’ if it is out there. Just wanted to stimulate some debate.

      Knowledge is power, after all.

      You are obviously certain in your conviction. And that’s fine by me. 🙂

  7. Andre H██ July 13, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    Honestly the "racism" thing doesn’t bother me as much, it’s debatable, a one-time thing, supposedly in response to Evra trying to trash talk him, etc.

    However the biting thing is clearly a trend, something seemingly done without any provocation (as if there’s ever an excuse) and something he claims he has no control over, and something which if repeated again will probably earn him bans measured in seasons rather than weeks. To me that’s not worth the price tag Liverpool is going to put on him when they are plenty of other worthy targets we can invest in

    • July 13, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

      Thanks for that. It’s a great point.

  8. WrongFootPele July 13, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    Let me join the chorus of people saying that this is an outstanding post. It certainly made me think through the "Suarez, should we or shouldn’t we" issue a little more critically. But the bottom line for me (as I tried to point out over at my own blog) is that signing Suarez carries too much risk, especially when compared with signing Higuain. Is he a great player? Undoubtedly. But in 77 games played for Liverpool, he’s managed to rack up 19 games worth of suspensions plus 19 yellow cards. You do a great job of raising some legitimate questions about these incidents but, to me, Suarez is trouble waiting to happen. And if anything were to happen in the future (and, let’s face it, it’s likely based on past experience) I doubt seriously that he’d get the benefit of the doubt from the Premier League or the FA and you could be looking at a suspension of a half season or more. If the question is 40 million pounds for Suarez or 25 million for Higuain, I think signing Higuain should be a no brainer. Suarez may be better, but given his amount of risk, he’s definitely not that much better.

    Again, really superb post and a fantastic analysis of Suarez. I enjoyed it immensely.

    • July 13, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

      Thanks. And your point is valid. It’s out of our hands!

  9. July 13, 2013 at 4:28 pm #

    I’m from the united States, where the issue of race is often discussed (for obvious reasons). I’m a white person who served as a leader in a black organization at my university. I also took many classes examining racism and studied Spanish extensively. My initial reaction to the case against Suarez, was I hate that racist bastard. But after reading the details of the case, my opinion has changed. I have lived in Ecuador for a year and am still here. They throw the term negro around all the time, as well as, negrito (the diminutive, which is not an insult). It surprised me at first and made me uncomfortable because of my sensitivity to the n-word in the states, but after my first year here (I now play on a soccer team of all black Ecuadorians) I see how much the term is used between people of all color. I think Suarez made a mistake that was blown out of proportion due to cultural and idiomatic differences, but should not be labeled as racist.

    • July 13, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

      Thanks so much for commenting.. I must have read about 20 articles on exactly this, and trolled forums etc. Great to hear it first-hand.

      Appreciate your comment, and your support. Thanks.

  10. Karteek Narumanchi July 13, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    The issue with Suarez isn’t only the label of a racist that he carries. He is an exceptional player, undoubtedly. He scored almost as many goals as Persie last season. No mean achievement. However, he seems to be troublemaker by nature. He has invited controversy at all places he has been (The handball, the diver tag, the bites,Mansfield goal) I am sure he will bring that element to Arsenal as well. Even his handling of the current situation at Liverpool is very bad. I am not sure he will stay beyond a year at Arsenal, given our wage structure and the way we handle our star players

    • July 13, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

      To be fair: there’s the handball. The two bites. The racism. And the Mansfield thing. That’s only 5 things. Not much really, is it? 😉

      I get your point. I’d like to think people can reform. It’s happened before… But, as you point out: is it worth taking a chance?

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  11. Draino Slushy July 15, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    This is fucking embarrassing. At least wait to see if we sign him before spouting this utter shart revisionist nonsense.

    • July 16, 2013 at 5:53 am #

      That makes sense. Let’s ask the question "Should we sign Luis Suarez or not?" AFTER we’ve signed him.

      Great comment, Slush. You should be ‘fucking embarrassed’. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  12. Jon Malaka July 24, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    Agree with some fellows who believe in Wenger capability. If we still; "In Wenger we trust", then signing Suarez must be the way to aim champions tittle.
    Cant wait to see how Wenger handle the bad boy…

  13. snowboard k2 December 9, 2013 at 6:01 am #

    I’m really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog.
    Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself?
    Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a nice
    blog like this one these days.


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