Wow, what a great World Cup! Tremendous football, exciting goals, the most worthy winners and a month-long spectacle that put the feel-good factor back on the face of world football. And then there was Luis Suarez. What a cast iron, A-1 pillock.
Let’s for now, though, concentrate on the good stuff, of which there was plenty.
Robin van Persie’s diving header as the Netherlands beat the World Champions, Spain 5-1. (I was quietly rooting for the Dutch)
The emergence of Colombia’s James Rodriguez as a global superstar.
The continued brilliance of Lionel Messi and of course, the persuasive, persistent excellence of the eventual winners, Germany.
Wasn’t it great that for one month, the players held no perceptible value while representing their country and nobody put a value on the potential on-pitch success? For the most part, we just concentrated on some great football. Sure, the sponsors and their multi-million dollar partnerships were still evident and the millionaire players certainly weren’t going to go short for a few weeks, but with no place for any rumours that Ronaldo might force through a quick move to bolster the Belgian squad, the full focus was on The Beautiful Game. It didn’t let us down.
As Chairman of a company that consistently stands up for the True Spirit Of Competition, I remain frustrated by the rolling-around antics of those whose personal space has been momentarily and gently infiltrated by light contact (did I mention Cristiano Ronaldo just now?) but basically the sun shone, the players delivered and a spectacle that befits the world’s biggest team tournament played out to a stirring climax.
And then there was Luis Suarez. What a cast iron, A-1 pillock. The fact he actually bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini was bad enough, but the fact he then tried to deny it with arguably the worst excuses I think I’ve ever heard, is pathetic.
“I fell.” Ok alright so far….
“I lost my balance, making my body unstable and falling on top of my opponent.” Hmm…
“At that moment I hit my face against the player, leaving a small bruise on my cheek and a strong pain in my teeth.” As someone in Monty Python once said: “Now stop that, it’s getting silly.”
Actually, the truth is it got downright disgraceful. As well as being suspended for a bite that the whole world saw, Suarez should have been censured further – and separately – for bringing the game into disrepute because, as he later admitted, he lied. In the aftermath of the incident, his team-mates and even Uruguay’s President blamed everyone but Suarez, making them all look fools.
Why didn’t someone within the Uruguayan camp get hold of him and deal with the reality rather than some theme park fantasy? Remember the world knew he’d done it twice before, so surely he needed help not excuses? The obstinate pandering to a superstar in denial did him no favours in a football context, nor, I’d suggest, psychologically either. There’s also the great unknown. Would Suarez have made a difference to the outcome of the trophy? Without doubt he’s a good enough player to affect a game at ANY level but he ruined his chance on the big stage at the peak of his career.
Then of course, came the real kick in the guts for the dignity of world football. Biting someone effectively ensured he actually increased his wealth by signing for Barcelona! His club side at the time, Liverpool clearly couldn’t justify defending him again. They stood by Suarez when he bit Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in a game at Anfield but this was one appetizer too far. Now, his new employers have taken one heck of a gamble while at the same time, made their new signing even more wealthy than before. It sticks in my craw that a sportsman can effectively profit from such a misdemeanour.
Back to the World Cup and a word of praise for FIFA. They put on a magnificent, memorable spectacle but I have to say they did so in spite of their President and not because of him.
Sepp Blatter remains a figure of hate amongst fans across the world and his appearance to hand over the trophy to Germany was met with howls of derision from inside the stadium. When, oh when, will the committee members and high-ranking officials who worked so hard to make Brazil 2014 an outstanding football festival realise they’re all better off – and probably safer in their jobs – without him?
What a cast iron, A-1… No, on second thoughts, I’ll save that for another time.
Meanwhile congratulations to Germany, the worthy winners and hats off too, to the people of Brazil whose exuberance and spirit pulled the sporting world together for one, memorable month. Wasn’t it great?