Fulham get relegated in the 2013/14 season and then in this World Cup, those with a connection to Craven Cottage suddenly turn into world-beaters. So you think I’m exaggerating? Okay, Clint Dempsey. Left us under a cloud and after a spell at Spurs returned last season (just to keep himself in trim pre-Brazil) and has been inspirational for USA as Captain America. You want another example? Bryan Ruiz. Captain of Costa Rica. His time by the Thames was as lightweight and fragile as filo pastry. In Brazil he scores the winner against Italy and was instrumental in the victory over Greece to see his team into the Quarter-Finals.
I opted for the Brazil v Chile game yesterday and for once my TV choice proved to be a good one. It helps when you have a bit of an interest in the fixture and don’t mind admitting I was totally on the side of underdog Chile. Even sitting at home the passion of the crowd, the players and coaches was evident as the national anthems were belted out with an intensity that bordered on frightening.
100 years ago today shots in Sarajevo killed Archduke Ferdinand which proved to be the catalyst that led to the the carnage that was to become the First World War. 100 years later we still haven’t learned and conflict and killing still exists in certain countries across the globe today.
It says much about the modern world though that the most significant shots for many on the planet today will take place in Brazil as the knock-out phase of the World Cup begins. Sixteen teams have departed and sixteen remain. Gone is the safety of the group games and second chances, this is winner takes all, whether in ninety minutes, extra-time or penalties.
Whilst it is no surprise that the Uruguayan FA has appealed, I am surprised that FIFA hasn’t stated, like some other sporting bodies, that whilst an appeal is permissible, if after the appeal the accused is still found guilty, then any ban could be extended. In the case of Suarez what is there to appeal? It’s clear he bit the Italian, an action which is totally unacceptable in the game and given it is his third offence, he’s coped a ban.
The fact is the biting incident has cast a shadow over the tournament. It happened; we can’t turn back the clock. The 2014 World Cup will be always associated with it and you know down the line in years to come that piece of footage will be shown time and time again. However, it’s not just the fact that it has occurred; it has been the reaction from those who are trying to defend Suarez. Whilst we all have had occasions where we need to close rank whether with friends, family or work, to deny that anything occurred is simply stupid. For the Uruguayan captain Diego Lugano to state in a press conference, “what incident?” and the President Jose Mujica to say, “I didn’t see him bite anyone” is inexplicable and does no credit to people who have responsibility that comes with their position.