We’ll admit it, we were wrong. We used to think the scariest six words in the English language were “Starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.” But now it’s obvious that “Luis Suarez is a bit peckish” is far, far worse. FIFA duly threw the book at the Uruguayan forward on Thursday, in what shall henceforth be known as “the shoulder charge.” It banned him for nine international games and, more notably, from any world soccer for four months, after he took a nibble out of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini. So, no vacation kick-abouts for our Luis, although the thought of Suarez at the beach sounds like something from a Peter Benchley novel, anyway.
The punishment is severe, but a lot less severe than if he were a dog. Then again, maybe that’s it – maybe Luis Suarez is a dog trapped inside a man’s body! Of course, it’s Disney’s “The Shaggy Dog,” but in reverse. (You wouldn’t have seen the 2006 remake - it starred Tim Allen.) We suggest Uruguay start combing the video archives, looking for suitable clues to defend their star striker (eagerness to chase after balls kicked by his “master,” butt sniffing, licking of genitals – all the usual stuff).
The only person we feel sorry for here is his club manager, Brendan Rodgers. This is Suarez’ second consecutive biting ban at the start of the domestic season, but the Liverpool boss had made the rehabilitation of the forward a personal project - and, until Tuesday, it looked like he’d done a great job. But then Suarez sank back into his bad old ways: You really cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
There was more controversy at the World Cup on Thursday when Russia’s goalkeeper, Igor Akinfeev, was allegedly distracted by a laser pen being shone in his eyes as he conceded an equalizing - and decisive – goal against Algeria. We want the culprit to be found and given the harshest possible sentence: taking Luis Suarez “walkies” every day for four months.
We can only assume that laser pens were being shone into every set of Russian eyes throughout the tournament, because boy, were they garbage. Coach Fabio Capello now has the unenviable record of being the highest-remunerated manager to oversee one World Cup victory in seven attempts. He’s also contracted to coach the Russians at the next World Cup, which they host, but we suspect he will be long gone from Moscow by then.
The Algerians are enjoying their most successful World Cup ever. First they scored a goal! (Their first tournament goal since 1986.) Then they won a game! (4-2, against South Korea.) Now they’ve qualified for the last 16, for the first time ever.
We’ll reflect on the Desert Foxes’ chances of gaining revenge over Germany for the 1982 “Disgrace of Gijon” - when the Germans and Austrians allegedly colluded to both qualify at Algeria’s expense - in Saturday’s diary. By the way, the German term for the collusion is great: the “Non-aggression pact of Gijon”; the Algerians, meanwhile, labelled it the Anschluss. Ouch.
Group H – aka the Group of Dearth – was topped by the spectacularly dull Belgians, who scraped past South Korea 1-0. And speaking of Germany, they beat the United States 1-0 at rain-soaked Recife. Despite defeat, the Americans were still celebrating: Portugal’s failure to overturn a negative goal difference in their 2-1 victory over Ghana meant the United States qualified for the next stage.
And so the world player of the year, Cristiano Ronaldo, goes home with his tail between his legs. Just like Suarez, in fact, but without the wagging.
Monopoly, poker and backgammon (rest day at the World Cup, normal service resumes Saturday)