So the four-month ban on Luis Suarez, imposed for his biting of Giorgio Chiellini, will stand. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) turned his appeal down. No surprise there, really.
However one might rationalize the bite and attempt to trivialize it -- not like breaking someone’s leg, now is it? -- there’s no escaping the fact that most people find biting a highly unpleasant offense.
It’s certainly not common is soccer -- in fact, Suarez seems to have cornered the market for the moment -- though it occurs more often in rugby, where there have been cases that did involve severe physical injury, like fingers or parts of ears being bitten off. Then there was Mike Tyson ...
Any lingering sympathy for Suarez is probably erased because he’s a proven serial offender. This is his third toothy assault. The guy evidently needs treatment. No doubt Barcelona will see he gets it. One more bite, and he could find himself banned for a whole season.
My feeling is that the soccer judges have got this one about right -- neither a lenient wrist-slap nor a harsh whipping. But a strong warning. And it’s not all that often that these decisions made by the various (and invariably anonymous) sporting courts are so satisfying.
As though to remind us that these star chambers are still in the business of handing down spectacularly silly and unfair verdicts, we have the case of the Polish club, Legia Warsaw.
Legia, having beaten Glasgow Celtic 6-1 over two legs of a UEFA Champions League qualifier, has been rewarded for its evident superiority by being thrown out of the tournament. The UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body (anonymous -- but how’s that for a title?) found Legia guilty of fielding an ineligible player for the final three minutes of the second leg, won 2-0 by Legia.
So Celtic was awarded a 3-0 victory; add that to the 4-1 loss Celtic suffered in Poland, and you get a 4-4 tie, with Celtic going through on that away goal.
The player concerned, Bartosz Bereszynski, had earlier been handed a three-game ban by UEFA. Which Legia believed he had served -- indeed, he had sat out three games. But Legia had committed a terrible infringement of the UEFA regulations. Prepare to stagger back in horror. In two of the games for which he was banned, and in which he did not play, or suit up, Legia had omitted to include his name on the roster.
Well, the uncompromising UEFA Control, Ethics etc swooped down like a starving hawk on this juicy tidbit of a technicality. Out of the tournament went Legia, and just to show that there’s nothing soft-hearted about the UEFA Control etc, it ruled that Bereszynski still owed them a two-game suspension, and it then added on a new one-game suspension for ... well, for what? Does “spite” sound about right? Probably not -- plain stupidity will do.
Does common sense count for nothing with these powerful judges? Who on earth was going to complain if the UEFA etc merely fined Legia for an oversight and allowed it to take up the place in the UCL that it had handsomely earned on the field?
Can one imagine Celtic, humiliated 6-1, making a big stink if that result -- tarnished only by a meaningless oversight -- were allowed to stand?
Legia has said it will take the matter to CAS. But can we rely on CAS -- having behaved so sensibly in the Suarez case -- to get things right twice in a row? I would hope so, but I doubt it.