by Chris Tobin
Italian-American gangster Alphonse Gabriel Capone – better known as Al to his followers – was by all accounts a criminal of the highest order. Although he enjoyed a highly visible profile as a public figure and all-round man of the people, he had behind this facade a criminal empire linked to the smuggling of alcohol (yes there was a time when you couldn’t just go into the local Thresher with your older brothers I.D. and buy four cans of Special Brew) in addition to bribery, money laundering, dabbling in the odd bit of prostitution and protection rackets and, like all good gangsters, the execution of any poor soul that might get in the way of business.
For all Al Capone’s many hideous crimes the only charges the authorities could actually convict him on was the very minor crime of Tax Evasion. After exhausting every other avenue this charge was to stick, with Capone being convicted and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment.
Luis Suarez however has not ever been charged with any illegal or criminal acts, much to the displeasure of many a newspaper editor, or fledgling reporter looking for a headline busting story. So why it is that Suarez has become Public Enemy Number 1?
For sure Suarez has not helped himself in being projected to the dizzy heights of most sensational headline fodder, in his own words “He wished he had acted differently” especially when he has been offered an out, by his employers and those running the game both here and in Europe.
He is however a young man (25) in a very bright spotlight, in a country where he is still not fluent in its language and cultures. Maybe if he were to go out on the tiles with Mario Balotelli frequenting strip joints until the early hours, and enjoying a champagne lifestyle his profile would be better received by the footballing public in this country, and its media? Unfortunately Mr Suarez is a happily married man to his childhood sweetheart Sofia; they had their first child Delfina on 5th August 2010.
Luis Suarez has many positives to go with some of the sensational negatives that have recently surrounded him and his career. Whilst at Ajax in Holland during his 4 seasons he would score 111 goals in just 159 games, joining such Ajax greats as Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten and Dennis Bergkamp in achieving that milestone.
Whilst in Holland Luis Suarez was twice named Dutch Footballer of the Year, such an accolade to win once, but to repeat that feat for two years running is a truly remarkable achievement. At this time Suarez was just 23 years old. This would go alongside his Ajax Player Of The Year which he had also been awarded over those same seasons, whilst manager Martin Jol bestowed upon him the honour of the Ajax captaincy.
In 2011 Suarez was named player of the tournament at the Copa America in aiding Uruguay win the competition whilst scoring four goals. Add to that an international record of 26 goals in just 52 games.
In all fairness has this footballer been treated with a balanced opinion by football fans, the British media and none footballing people, who somehow believe they are the spokespeople for our social conscience being ever ready to teach us morality?
Some of the over the top exhaustive commentary on Luis Suarez can certainly be called excessively biased, and possibly resembling a witch-hunt.
He has been compared (Sunday Times) to General Augusto Pinochet former President of Chile whose regime was responsible for the torture of over 30,000 citizens including women and children, killing more than 3,000 people in the process. At the time of Pinochet’s death he still had over 300 criminal charges still outstanding.
I cannot for a moment see the comparison with any Premier League footballer let alone Luis Suarez.
It is not just the print press; if we take as an example Arsenal’s visit to Anfield and the concession of a penalty by the Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny that clearly shown on TV replays a connection being made between Suarez and Szczesny and Suarez subsequently being fouled yet described by too many pundits to list as either a dive, or having made too much of it.
Possibly the worst example on Public Enemy Number 1 I leave until last, the honour going to Judge – yes Judge – Jonathan Taaffe who, whilst passing sentence on some poor unfortunate Manchester United fan that Suarez had managed to upset through the medium of TV, had his own opinion on Luis Suarez.
The following was reported over many forms of media, making headlines in the Daily Mirror, The Sun, Daily Star and The Manchester Evening News who chose the headline” Judge blasts Luis Suarez after ‘handshake bust-up’ with Patrice Evra prompts Manchester United fan to assault wife in Eccles”
Forgive me for using my very own style of reporting, not wanting to be accused of plagiarism, but the content of the story remains.
A judge has launched an amazing attack on footballer Luis Suarez after a Manchester United fan hit his partner with a TV remote control following the infamous handshake bust-up with Patrice Evra.
Judge Jonathan Taaffe said the Liverpool striker had been ‘petulant’ and acted like a ‘spoilt child’ in his refusal to shake the hand of Patrice Evra.
He spoke out after hearing how Manchester United fan Graham Trelfa claimed to be so enraged by Suarez’s behaviour that he hurled the TV remote in his partner’s face.
Sentencing him, Judge Taaffe made it clear Suarez was not directly responsible for Trelfa’s ‘bullying’ behaviour.
But he added: “The actions of Mr. Suarez were at best ill-considered and at worst the actions of a petulant individual who behaved like a spoilt child and brought contempt on both his club and the many professional footballers who conduct themselves properly week-in, week-out.
“It’s undoubtedly the case that the actions of a so-called role model can affect the behaviour of many and the need to act responsibly both on and off the field as they hold privileged position and are idolised by many.”
Manchester magistrates court had heard how dad-of-three Trelfa – of Trafford Road in Eccles – reacted furiously after watched footage of the ‘handshake that wasn’t’ on the Ten O’clock News.
He made a comment about ‘foreigners refusing to shake hands’ before hurling the remote at his partner at close range.
Trelfa who had been drinking cider hit her in the eye, then grabbed her and hurled her to the floor before storming out.
When he came back home his partner had called the police.
Trelfa was arrested – and later pleaded guilty to common assault. He was given a 12-month community order and told to pay £85 in costs yesterday.
The court heard Trelfa, who works as an engineer, had received a caution in 2008 for a similar offence.
It was not however disclosed whether he blamed Stan Collymore or Joey Barton on that occasion
Judge Taaffe told him that by trying to blame Suarez he was ‘missing the point’ about his behaviour.
He said: “In my judgment it would’ve occurred sooner or later as it’s quite clear you have an anger problem and have behaved in a bullying fashion for many years towards your partner without any thought for the effects it would have.
“To blame Mr. Suarez, in my view, illustrates your refusal to confront the real issue.”
Speaking outside court Trelfa said he was ‘sorry’ for his actions.
He said: “I would like to apologies for what happened and I’m relieved with the judge’s decision.
“I saw the snub and it just made me angry. It annoyed me so much.”
So in summing up your Honour, Luis Suarez was not directly responsible for this despicable example of a human being beating up his partner, can we then assume he was indirectly responsible for this poor man throwing the remote control at the poor woman? Why then no criticism of the folk that peddled cans of cider to the poor chap, making him slightly intoxicated? Were they also not directly responsible?
None of us are naïve enough to suggest any fairness from opposing supporters, as similarly we would not offer such an easy ride for their heroes, but an unbiased media and judicial service, perhaps we expect too much.
If they can’t get Suarez on a murder charge let’s all hope his financial advisor has his tax returns in good order!!
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