NEVER reward bad behaviour is a rule that you find in most books written by experts on parenting, coaching or any dealing with people.
Unfortunately, football – and Barcelona in particular – have broken that very same rule.
On Monday night at the Nou Camp, Barcelona gave their new £75m signing Luis Suarez his debut in a friendly against Mexican side Leon.
In my opinion, this debut should never have happened as the Uruguay striker was banned by FIFA for four months from “all football activity” for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup.
That meant he was not allowed to play, train, watch the team play, take part in promotional activities and administrative matters.
Biting another person has no place in society, let alone on a football pitch. It is disgusting and should come with a harsh punishment.
Suarez cannot play until October 26, which happens to be ‘El Clasico’ where Barcelona take on Real Madrid in La Liga at the Bernabeu, and he is banned for Uruguay’s next eight competitive matches.
Former Liverpool striker Suarez was not happy with his punishment and took his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The panel there ruled that the ban on all football activity was excessive.
The court said in a statement: “The four-month suspension will apply to official matches only and no longer to other football-related activities (such as training, promotional activities and administrative matters).”
Banning Suarez from training would have meant the ban “would still have an impact on his activity after the end of the suspension,” the panel ruled.
Did the panel realise what Suarez had done and, more importantly, the message they will be sending out?
A four-month ban is not long enough, and being rewarded with a £75m move to Barcelona definitely isn’t punishment either.
This isn’t even his first offence, Suarez has now been found guilty not once, not twice but three times of biting.
His last offence was as recent as 2013, against Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.
MY opinion doesn’t come from hate or envy – I was one of those singing his praise for his performances last season.
Even in the World Cup, I was praising his display against England.
In the past, I may have been one of those people guilty of brushing under the carpet the bad behaviour of Suarez, just because of his huge talents on the pitch.
His terrific last season for Liverpool certainly blinded me to all his sins, but enough is enough.
Barcelona have themselves had their image tarnished of late when they were involved in a tax-evasion case and banned from signing players for 14 months.
The club are lucky to be bringing in new faces because the ban has been put on hold by FIFA pending an appeal.
You would think they would steer clear of Suarez and his scandal while they cleaned up their own image.
Maybe Barcelona’s quest for success is more important than the message of right and wrong?
The Suarez case would have been great for football and sport to set an example to youngsters and society – to say being talented doesn’t excuse you from punishment for bad behaviour.
Football has created a monster in Suarez, a monster that doesn’t fear authority or punishment because eventually he always gets what he wants – and that is to play football.