In the days leading up to the start of the World Cup, Suárez was profiled by Grant Wahl in Sports Illustrated. Early in the article, Suárez is quoted as saying that “I want to change the bad boy image that has stuck for a bit because I don’t think I am at all how I have been portrayed. I would like that to change because it’s awful to hear and read what is said of you.”
We want to believe that Suárez was sincere in his desire to change his image, but if that is the case how do you explain what happened during the Italy game? Maybe the answer lies in a comment from Liverpool owner John Henry in that same Sports Illustrated article.
“He is a good person 99 percent of the time, and 1 percent of the time his desire to win overcomes everything else,” Henry said. “So he had moments where he made very high-profile mistakes. But those mistakes were always in the heat of competition. [They have] caused him problems, but [they’re] also a reason he is one of the best players we’ve ever seen.”
There is no doubt that Suárez is currently one of the game’s best goal scorers, but how much longer can Liverpool put up with him? They did everything they could this past season to support him and, while it was enough to get him through the season, it wasn’t enough to make a permanent change. How can they trust that the “1 percent” won’t come out at the most inopportune time?
Suárez hasn’t been helped by the fact that the Uruguayan Football Association is blaming everyone but Suárez for the incident, claiming everything from Photoshopped images to a conspiracy by a cabal of English, Italian and Brazilian media.
“We don’t have any doubts that this has happened because it’s Suárez involved and secondly because Italy have been eliminated,” association member Alejandro Balbi said. “There’s a lot of pressure from England and Italy. We’re convinced that it was an absolutely casual play, because if Chiellini can show a scratch on one shoulder, Suárez can show a bruised and an almost closed eye.”
Everyone else’s fault but Suárez, of course.
Liverpool officials also have to factor in that they are shouldering a large part of the punishment handed out to Suárez, even though they played no role in the latest incident. Suárez was going to be a transfer target this summer, with the annual move to Spain already hitting the media; could this be the tipping point where the club decides that Suárez is no longer worth the trouble?