Liverpool fans may disagree, but we’re pretty bored of the latest debate about Luis Suarez. Whether you think 10 matches was spot on, too harsh or too lenient, the FA has made its decision and all parties should turn their attentions to ensuring the Uruguayan’s undoubted anger-management issues are treated by trained professionals and not left subject to the emotional responses of people associated with or opposed to Liverpool.
But there is a degree of relevance to Chomp-Gate in light of Chelsea’s 2-1 victory at FC Basel.
Blues fans were furious that Suarez was on hand to score a last-gasp equaliser in Chelsea’s league match against Liverpool, given Suarez should have been sent off for dining out on Branislav Ivanovic’s admittedly tantalising steak of an arm.
Now Chelsea supporters can share Liverpool’s relief from that day, with David Luiz having escaped dismissal for a naughty challenge on FC Basel’s Philipp Degen before going on to score the winner, a second away goal that puts Rafael Benitez’s side firmly in charge of their Europa League semi-final.
When a player escapes action for an offence and then goes on to have a profound impact on the course of the game, bleating about injustices is philosophically and morally suspect. How many times in a match could a player be booked for a borderline offence, which taken into the context of a later yellow card would have seen him sent off? How often do we see a player booked for a minor offence en route to receiving two yellow cards that ends his game early, changing the course of a game as a result? How often is a player from your team harshly dealt with by football authorities, before another gets away scot free after a mini-implosion?
The moment a red card is not brandished, anything subsequent to that incident is rendered moot; there can be no complaints about the perpetrator impacting the game, because the offence has been missed and therefore did not occur. From that moment on, any punishment is meted out upon the offending player retrospectively, and the punishment is often far more draconian in nature than it would have been had the official spotted it.
Chelsea fans complaining about Suarez’s equaliser last weekend are unlikely to react with sheepish embarrassment following Luiz’s winner, but such is the nature of football fans that a reaction of defiance is more likely.
They would do well to respond with karmic balance, not least because, while Suarez undoubtedly should have been sent off at the weekend, so should Fernando Torres after his elbow on Jamie Carragher.
Similarly no guilt should be felt at Luiz’s winner, if an emotion other than bullish pride is indeed possible for a Chelsea supporter. Fabian Schaer, who equalised thanks to a very dodgy penalty (the softness of which is tangential to this argument but should be highlighted anyway) should have been shown a straight red card after bringing down Eden Hazard early in the second half with the Belgian in the middle of a direct run at goal.
As it happened, the ref did not see Schaer’s cynical flick of the boot, play continued and all was forgotten. That there was no injury resultant from his challenge is the only reason this is not being widely discussed; we have all forgotten, but the net impact on Basel’s game had the referee seen his foul would have been the same – a straight red card.
Fortunately Degen was able to run off the knock from Luiz’s challenge, and having been booked the Brazilian will not face further action, unless UEFA eats its own hand and retrospectively bans him even though the offence was arguably only worthy of a yellow in the era from which Luiz’s haircut hails.
But that won’t happen and Luiz can look forward to astounding and bungling with equal frequency as Chelsea bid for the inglorious honour of being the first team to win the Champions League but do so badly the following season they are forced to take the European equivalent of the Johnstone’s Paints Trophy.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The Robert Lewandowski operation was led by my son Fabrizio Preziosi, as he was the one who tracked the player and brought him to Genoa. The transfer market is like that – some moves go through, others do not. We had Lionel Messi in our grasp a few years ago, so we have more regrets over him than Lewandowski!” - Genoa president Enrico Preziosi joins Blackburn Rovers in claiming they should have signed Dortmund’s Polish sensation.
Fenerbahce midfielder Cristian broke down in tears after missing a penalty on the stroke of half-time during their Europa League semi-final first leg at home to Benfica. The Brazilian had to be consoled as the teams went in at half-time, but he recovered to have a fine second half as his side claimed a 1-0 win.
Premier League expert Jim White gives his view on the week’s football, while we preview all the weekend’s action in UK domestic and major European leagues. There is a Championship promotion clash as high-flying Watford take on play-off chasing Leicester, while outside of football we will be continuing our coverage of the snooker World Championship both on the Player and in text.