Luis Suarez: The Business Of Winning

FIFA World Cup//World Cup


Brazil 2014 has given the world possibly the most colourful football World Cup there has ever been, and not just because of the carnival spirit in which Brazilian fans embrace every opportunity to play the beautiful game.

From Robin Van Persie’s exquisite header against the hapless Spanish in Holland’s opening match, to the host nation’s utter humiliation at the hands of the ruthless German machine in Belo Horizonte, we have witnessed the good and the bad.

And what of the ugly? That undoubtedly came in the form of Luis Suarez’s bite on Italian defender, Giorgio Chiellini’s seasoned left shoulder. It plunged a man into disgrace, his nation into outrage.

Suarez has previous in this department: he was banned for 7 games for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal while playing for Dutch side Ajax in 2010. A nibble of Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in 2013 saw him sat on the sidelines for another 10 matches in 2013.

Other than the overriding temptation to conclude that Suarez is deranged and needs to be sectioned, what interpretations can we glean from this carnivorous controversy? Last week he was the nadir of sportsmanship, but after Uruguay’s win over England, he was a national hero; prodigious talent and spiritual talisman for his national side, he was held all the closer to Uruguayan hearts for all the perceived unfair treatment he gets in the foreign press. So is there anything business can learn from how Suarez applies himself to his profession?

Well, there is actually. While any concern for sporting integrity Suarez may hold remains very well disguised, the Uruguayan clearly does care - desperately so - about winning. And isn’t that all that matters? Did you witness his glowing expression when he belted the ball into the back of the English net to score the winning goal? His face engendered the unbridled joy, the incredulous rapture of childhood dreams born in back-street kick-abouts and footy fields the world over. In one celebration he gave us a picture of what it means to care about the work you are doing, the team you are leading and the people who believe in you.

And yet he shouldn’t have. The situation couldn’t have been any more uncomfortable for Suarez who was playing against several of his teammates and openly part of the opposition in the eyes of the tens of thousands who saw him playing in the English Premier League last season.

Undaunted, Suarez proceeded to unscrupulously terrorise and torment the country that pays his wages, putting away two world class goals in the process. All sentiment was put to one side, business was business and he wanted the victory which he duly got. That’s a winning mentality.

We not only have a world class footballing talent, but a character so brazen he’d deny the earth orbited the sun if he thought it would increase his chances of scoring a goal.

So is he a winner or a loser? Sadly, the latter. He’s a world class talent, that’s undeniable. But power is nothing without control, and his lack of it sent him tumbling out of the World Cup in a shower of shame. His team, without its leader, fell in the next round and will be remembered for its striker’s pioneering efforts in the art of the fangs-out foul.

Yet Suarez is rumoured to be joining one of the world’s greatest teams, Barcelona, in time for the start of the 2014/15 season. Not that he’ll be eligible to play until late October due to his ban from football. The bottom line? Business is business - you can get away with anything so long as your talent outweighs your transgression.

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