Suarez Should Not Miss A Minute of Football Due To Latest Bite

Uruguay striker Luis Suarez should be publicly condemned for his latest attempt to bite another football player – however, he should not be banned from football.

For yet again behaving like a toddler in a professional sporting contest, he should be shamed, ridiculed and pilloried from post to goalpost. He should be mocked by British tabloid newspapers, photoshopped as Hannibal Lecter in Internet memes and compared to a stray dog in inter-office emails.

But he should not be banned from the rest of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In fact, he should be privately congratulated by the FIFA top brass.

This World Cup is already being called the best ever. It has had it all. Exciting games, a lot of goals and the right amount of upsets.

It is, however, lacking one thing: a pantomime villain.

Sport, like Disney movies, requires a villain
Sport, like Disney movies, requires a villain

Luis Suarez is the perfect pantomime villain. He is very good at football, but is a swarthy, physically unattractive latino man who likes to play on the edge of legality.

This latest incident is Suarez’ third recorded bite in recent years. There may be other bites, or biting attempts, that we don’t know about. We do know that as a junior footballer he head-butted a referee. He has form when it comes to being a bad guy.

The World Cup needs bad guys and it needs Luis Suarez.

Billions of people across the globe enjoy watching sport – and the World Cup – because it boils down life’s challenges into a simple game. There are two sides, a clear set of rules and a definitive result (win, lose or draw).

In other words, sport provides a calm, reassuring an escape from most people’s chaotic, unpredictable and often miserable lives.

Not enough sport
Not enough sport

The narrative of sport, and the football World Cup in particular, further helps explain its popularity. We watch it because we enjoy the allegory. We revel in the characters, the David v Goliath battles, and of course the duality of the battle between hero and pantomime villain.

Suarez is exactly what this World Cup needs. He is the anti-hero to the media-hype-machine-produced Neymar. If Suarez is banned from the rest of the tournament, the public will be deprived of one of the great character-driven battles of the World Cup. Perfectly-coiffed local playboy Neymar versus deranged Uruguayan cheat Suarez in the Quarter Final.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter should condemn Luis Suarez’s behaviour, but he should not ban him. Instead, he should take Suarez aside, thank him for his contribution to the World Cup and ask that he tries to bite Neymar’s new haircut in the Quarter Final.

Because it will help with TV audiences.

By Ben Shine

World Cup Worries: Holland to Field Side Without a “Van” for First Time Since 1996

TPA’s musings generally don’t extend to personal financial matters, but today we are making an exception.

Here’s some advice: Take all of your money out of your savings account and bet every last cent on Chile to beat the Netherlands in their World Cup match tomorrow morning.*

Chile are a sure thing. Surer than the Cincinnati Reds in the 1919 World Series. Surer than any side playing a Hansie Cronje-led South African side in an ODI in the mid-90s. Or anyone playing the Pakistan cricket team ever, for that matter.

Chile are guaranteed to win because, as ESPNFC reports, their opponents the Netherlands are set to field a team without a player whose surname begins with “Van” for the first time since 1996. No van Persie. No van der Vaart. No van Basten.

The Van streak in competitive matches goes back even further, with the last Van-less Netherlands side playing in the 1994 World Cup. It didn’t end well. They lost against Belgium.

The Netherlands without a “Van” in the lineup is like the Australian test cricket team without a Waugh in their middle order.

Waughs - providing comfort in an uncertain world/batting line-up.
Waughs – providing comfort in an uncertain world/batting line-up.

It’s the equivalent of an Australian Men’s Doubles Team without “wood” in a players’ surname, a South Korea side without any “Lee”, or worse still, a Brazilian team with no single-word-named players (imagine a world with no Fred, no Jo and no Juninho).

It goes without saying that all of these sides are greatly diminished when they are deprived of their stalwart names.

Like a dole-bludger surfer in 1970s Australia (or a child kidnapper), the Netherlands will struggle without their Van.

On the other hand, Chile will field a strong side laden with Sanchez-es, Diaz-es and Silvas.

Expect Chile to take the Van-less Netherlands for a ride.

By Ben Shine

*Gamble responsibly. Or save yourself some money and don’t gamble at all.

Life on the Bandwagon: Part II

So, as it usually does, jumping on the Bandwagon has paid off. But the real question, as posed to me last night by editor-in-chief Dave Edwards, is how do I feel now?

I feel good. Not ecstatic, mind you, but satisfied.

If the Newcastle Knights or Essendon Bombers had won the premiership, or indeed the Wallabies ever won the Bledisloe Cup, it might be a different story. I might still be in the midst of some wild drunken celebrations, as if I had actually something to do with the side’s march to glory. As if, by drinking beer and screaming at the television while watching the odd game, I am an intrinsic part of the club’s success.

And I suppose in a way I am. Without us foolhardy supporters these multi-million dollar sporting empires don’t exist, do they? Still, I am sure that more than one footballer has looked up at the crowd, as bile is thrown at him from a bloke he has never seen before, and wondered, ‘why do these people care so much?’

But I digress. The Brisbane Roar. Good.

"We did it!"
“We did it!”

There is something quite incredible about this team I must say. They remind me of the current Queensland State of Origin side, the New Zealand All Blacks, and Rod McQueen’s all conquering Wallabies under John Eales – you just know they are going to win.

Even when they’ve fallen behind (as has been the case in all of their Grand Final victories) and time seems to be against them, there is an underlying sense that they will still pull that delightful little rabbit out of the hat and let him bounce around Suncorp Stadium with glee. His name is usually Besart Berisha.

It must play on their opposition’s minds as well. Despite every sportsperson’s mantra that history counts for nothing, it does, and will continue to do so. The Roar know they can win from the apparently impossible, they’ve done it before and have in fact made a habit of it. Their opposition also know this and it’s got to add to those final minute jitters, ultimately playing into the hands of the men in orange as they pounce once again.

Great Eastern Euro hair.
Great Eastern Euro hair.

Interestingly, after the Roar fell behind on Sunday, I understandably found myself desperately wanting them to equalise and go on to win, but not for the reason you might expect. I realised I wanted Western Sydney to lose, more than I wanted the Roar to win.

This wasn’t because I have some sort of vendetta against those in the west, or wish a pox upon Tony Popovic and his coaching endeavours, but because I wholeheartedly despise the way the Western Sydney Wanderers’ fans – or the Red and Black Bloc – carry on. The way they turn their backs on the play, bouncing up and down, at once trying to intimidate and show no respect, grates particularly strongly with me, a bloke who still thinks everyone should be quiet when the opposition is taking a penalty kick.

Still, I am very happy the Roar won, and am glad to have secured my place on the Bandwagon. I might do it more often.

By Alasdair McClintock