OpinionMonday, June 30, 2014
More surprises and mistakes
LONDON — Last week’s biggest World Cup story was undoubtedly the longest suspension of Uruguay’s Luis Suárez for nine international matches and four months from all soccer for biting an opponent. It was the third time he has bitten an opponent, but FIFA broke its usual rule. He should only have been suspended for international soccer, not league soccer where league disciplinary committees rule. Uruguay is appealing, but that they are blaming England — against whom he scored the two winning goals — for pressing FIFA for the severe suspension is ridiculous. Suárez was last season’s Premier League top scorer with Liverpool where he is popular and he would miss this season’s first 13 league games.
Liverpool now want to get rid of him and would receive a tidy sum from interested Barcelona or Real Madrid. FIFA could also have ordered psychiatric treatment for Suárez’s mixed up mind as he believes he is some kind of animal which defends itself by biting.
More surprises: Algiers making the second round at the expense of Russia and Brazil just getting past Chile by one shoot-out penalty. While this columnist explained last Friday why England finished bottom of group D, there is no reasonable explanation why Costa Rica finished top of the group which also included no less than Italy and Uruguay. Argentina must hope that this jinx on apparent favourites does not extend to tomorrow’s against Switzerland.
FIFA has expressed satisfaction with attendances at matches and TV viewing figures all over the world, but of special interest must be the announcement that viewing figures in the United States for last week’s match between the US and Germany — when it seemed fairly safe that both teams would reach the second round — were superior to those for the recent National Basketball Association final. Does that mean that soccer is finally becoming a popular sport in the United States as it is in most of the rest of the world?
Obviously, the large and likely growing Hispanic population in the US has a lot to do with it, but then it was always on the cards that the popularity of soccer among boys and girls, as well as in universities, would eventually be felt among older people when this generation grew up. Also, the mayor soccer league (MSL) is slowly expanding to other towns which is another positive sign as this professional league would certainly not prosper unless there was money in it. The MSL, by the way, has some rules which other professional leagues around the world would do well to copy.