Skip to content

Is Luis Suarez a victim? Brendan Rodgers thinks so

Apr 25, 2013, 1:35 PM EDT

Britain Soccer Premier League AP

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists that Luis Suarez has been victimized by the 10 match ban handed down by the FA and that “the punishment has been made against the man and not the incident.”

Since Suarez’ now infamous bite on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic during last Sunday’s 2-2 draw, the Uruguayan was charged with violent conduct and handed a 10 match ban by an independent disciplinary panel. Liverpool, who have still not received the full report, have until Friday afternoon to appeal the decision.

In the meantime, Brendan Rodgers stepped forward to discuss the incident. “It is the severity of the ban that has hurt most,” said Rodgers. “That is something we are bitterly disappointed with – not so much the ban because everyone has seen it and Luis was very open and honest to know it was wrong.

“You can only compare it with similar incidents we’ve had. There have been two similar incidents both in 2006. One player [Tottenham's Jermain Defoe] received no ban and has continued to be picked by the FA for the England team. The other player [defender Sean Hessey, who was charged for biting in a game between Chester City and Stockport County in 2006] received a five-game ban. So when Luis receives a 10-game ban it’s hard to understand.

“I honestly believe the punishment has been made against the man and not the incident.”

While it may be tough to grasp the logic behind Rodgers’ defense of Suarez, it’s hardly surprising that the manager has chosen to stand behind the Uruguayan. This is what Brendan Rodgers does, at least when it comes to his star player. Whether he’d do the same for Martin Skrtel or Jose Enrique remains to be seen.

Rodgers had Suarez’ back throughout both of the player’s prior incidents this season. When Suarez was repeatedly accused of diving (and exacerbated those accusations by celebrating his goal against Everton with a dive in front of David Moyes), Rodgers had his back. When Suarez handled the ball prior to scoring Liverpool’s winner in the FA Cup third round tie at Mansfield, Rodgers defended him.

In truth, it’s exactly what any good manager should do for his player, so long as it’s justified. In the context of diving and handball accusations, it was big of Rodgers to step up and defend the Uruguayan when the rest of the world was out to get him. But when it comes to the biting incident, Rodgers’ defense of Suarez is questionable and his assertion that the player is a victim is borderline asinine.

The claim that the “punishment has been made against the man and not the incident” evidences Rodgers’ misunderstanding of basic principles of justice. In any court system in the world, prior incidents are always factored in when determining punishment. You simply cannot consider punishment for an incident without understanding the man behind the incident.

In a criminal context, multiple violations always results in an extended sentence. Even in many a civil context, liability is easier to prove for repeat offenders. For example, in the context of a dog bite (which feels appropriate when discussing Suarez) a plaintiff in the U.S. must prove negligence of the owner so long as no prior bite has been proven. However, if the owner has been previously found liable for his dog biting someone, a plaintiff merely need to prove strict liability – a much lower and easier threshold to meet than negligence. In other words, history matters.

So was this a punishment made against the man? Absolutely. And rightfully so.

In fact, the 10 match ban seems quite fair when considering Suarez’ bite history. When the striker bit the collarbone of PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal in 2010, the Dutch Football Federation handed him a seven match ban. Logically, this punishment provided the FA with the floor for the potential ban. Anything below that number would have made a mockery of the FA while anything over 10 matches would have seemed egregious given the chomp didn’t cause actual injury to Ivanovic.

For all the criticism the FA has received this season, they got this incident right. One hopes that, in time, Brendan Rodgers will arrive at this understanding.

Latest Posts
  1. Premier League Preview: Arsenal vs. Everton

    Aug 23, 2014, 2:52 AM EDT

    tim_howard Getty Images

    April’s 3-0 loss at Goodison was the low point of Arsenal’s 2013-14 season.

  2. Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Leicester City

    Aug 23, 2014, 1:09 AM EDT

    cesc_fabregas Getty Images

    The Blues are heavy favorites to stay perfect through two rounds.

  3. WATCH: José Mourinho discusses virtues of light early schedule

    Aug 23, 2014, 12:41 AM EDT

    Jose Mourinho AP

    With one game per week, Chelsea’s players have a chance to settle into their roles.

  4. MLS Snapshot: FC Dallas 2-1 Real Salt Lake

    Aug 23, 2014, 12:05 AM EDT

    fabian_castillo Getty Images

    Two goals while playing with 10 send Dallas joint-top of the Western Conference.

  5. WATCH: Previewing the Premier League’s six-match Saturday

    Aug 22, 2014, 9:51 PM EDT

    Roberto Martínez has exceeded early expectations at Everton, his "transition period" seeing the Toffees drop just one of their first 15 league games. (Source: Getty Images.) Getty Images

    The league’s second round kicks off at Villa Park and ends with the main event on Merseyside.

  6. Cristiano Ronaldo threw some punch-like thing at Diego Godín

    Aug 22, 2014, 9:12 PM EDT

    cristiano_ronaldo AP

    List of things Cristiano Ronaldo can’t do: Throw a proper punch.

  7. WATCH LIVE: FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake kick off MLS weekend

    Aug 22, 2014, 8:20 PM EDT

    Matt Hedges, Olmes Garcia AP

    Dallas is undefeated since May, while RSL has a chance to temporarily move clear atop the Western Conference.

  8. MLS Weekend Preview: Trio of marque marquee matches begins Friday in Frisco

    Aug 22, 2014, 7:17 PM EDT

    fabian_castillo Getty Images

    Dallas versus Real Salt Lake, Sporting hosting D.C. see the conferences’ best go head-to-head.

  9. Early Mandzukic goal sees Atlético defeat Real Madrid, claim Spanish Super Cup

    Aug 22, 2014, 6:50 PM EDT

    mario_mandzukic Getty Images

    Early Mandzukic goal gives Atlético its fifth trophy under Simeone.

  10. Top five storylines heading into Week 2 of the Premier League

    Aug 22, 2014, 5:10 PM EDT

    Howard rushed off his line to great effect in the first half to thwart Arsenal's offense. Getty Images

    Toffees and Gunners clash, Liverpool head to Man City, London derby time and much more.

  11. Robben dominance, Malanda miss give Bayern opening match win over Wolfsburg

    Aug 22, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT

    arjen_robben AP

    Goal, assist from Dutch star helped deliver Bayern three points to open the Bundesliga season.

  12. Premier League Preview: Aston Villa vs. Newcastle United

    Aug 22, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT

    Andreas Weimann AP

    Can Villa continue their good start to the season? Watch live, Saturday 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

  13. Report: Stoke City seeks European loan for Brek Shea; Many interested

    Aug 22, 2014, 3:17 PM EDT

    Burton Albion v Stoke City - Pre Season Friendly Getty Images

    Birmingham City, 1860 Munich, Millwall, Nurnberg… it seems Brek Shea is a man in demand when it comes to his loan from Stoke City.

  14. Bundesliga season preview, predictions: Bayern on top? Sure, but then who?

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

    Germany Soccer Cup AP

    The Bavarians added Robert Lewandowski, and look poised to lead again. Who are the favorites to emerge in the race for second?

  15. Prindi’s Premier League Picks: United to get it right, Arsenal to stumble

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:29 PM EDT

    Ryan Giggs, Louis van Gaal AP

    Matchweek 2 brings a few killer games including Everton v. Arsenal on Saturday and Manchester City v. Liverpool on Monday.

  16. Profile: The life and times of Mario Balotelli

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    Italian forward Mario Balotelli celebrat

    From the early days in Italy, to the craziness of Man City and then back to AC Milan, here’s the timeline of Balotelli’s life so far.

  17. Julian Green gets bench nod for Bundesliga opener, could make league debut

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:03 PM EDT

    Bayern Munich's Julian Green fights for the ball with Al-Merrikh's Ramadan Ajab during their friendly soccer match in Doha Reuters

    The 19-year-old American attacker’s only senior appearance for Bayern was a Champions League sub. That could change today.

  18. La Liga season preview, predictions: Can anyone outlast Real Madrid?

    Aug 22, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT

    Cristiano Ronaldo AP

    Probably not, but with Sevilla and Barcelona strengthening while Atletico deals with roster tumult, look for some changes near the top.

  19. PSV enlists water cannons in next-level ALS Challenge (video)

    Aug 22, 2014, 12:46 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 12.40.31 PM

    PSV Eindhoven called the police, upping the ante on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

  20. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 2

    Aug 22, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every single PL game in Week 2, right here.

Featured video

Week 2: Saturday PL preview