World Cup Jerk Watch: Is Uruguay’s Luis Suarez Horribly Entertaining or Just Horrible?

The Spot
Slate's soccer blog.
June 13 2014 8:25 PM

World Cup Jerk Watch: Is Uruguay’s Luis Suarez Horribly Entertaining or Just Horrible?

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Luis Suarez is not a cannibal, but he plays one on TV.

Photo by ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images

Name: Luis Suarez

Home country: Uruguay

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Known for: scoring goals, biting opponents (plural), racism, using his hands, diving, not giving a damn.

Why he might be a jerk: So many reasons. In the video at the top of the page, we’ve put together a lowlight reel of some of Suarez’s most hilariously egregious offenses. In the 2010 World Cup, he famously earned a red card by punching the ball off the line to prevent fan favorites Ghana from scoring a game-winning goal in their quarterfinal match. After Asamoah Gyan tragically rammed the ensuing penalty off of the crossbar, Suarez—who had been sent off for the violation—could be seen punching his fists in the air like a criminal who was caught robbing a bank and then told he could keep the money.

That was just the beginning. A few months after the World Cup, while playing for his club Ajax, Suarez bit an opponent on the shoulder and received a seven-match ban. After moving to Liverpool the next year, he racially abused Manchester United defender Patrice Evra—Evra said it happened “at least 10 times”—and was banned eight games. The next time the two players met, Suarez refused to shake the Frenchman’s hand. That’s pretty darn jerky!

And we’re not done. Nowhere near it. Suarez is also an infamous diver, shrieking feigned death cries every time he is touched and then laughing the second the call has been made. Oh, and he bit another guy.

Suarez’s constant need for human flesh led to a delectable assortment of Hannibal Lecter, zombie, and vampire memes and another lengthy ban. The striker is the exact opposite of the band that refuses to play its greatest hits: He also did the handball thing again in England’s FA Cup.

Why he might not be a jerk: He’s really good at soccer. (Suarez won the award for the best player in England after scoring 31 league goals in 33 games for Liverpool this year). Also, he has recently pretended to be nice. And, well, his antics are pretty funny, the non-racist ones at least. For example, when then-Everton manager David Moyes criticized Suarez for diving, Suarez celebrated his next Merseyside derby goal by running all the way from the goal box to Everton’s bench to do a celebration dive for Moyes. It’s this level of dedication that makes Suarez the most entertaining jerk in soccer.

Finally, he’s not technically a cheat. In that game against Ghana, he committed a foul and was punished for the foul, as prescribed by the rules of the game. As a smart Slate commenter pointed out in this wonderful post, his handball against Ghana was a brilliant soccer play. In a split second, Suarez recognized his team’s only hope for survival was for him to commit a handball violation, and he did it. Sports are about winning, and he did what he had to do for his team to win. Right?

Jerk Score: 3 out of 3 for style—this is a jerk that all other jerks should look to for inspiration. 2 out of 3 for technique, because we’re docking him a point for sloppy execution on that dive celebration. 3 out of 3 for consistency, because he’s a jerk with unimaginable range: a racist and a biter who imposes his jerkiness on everything from handshakes to handballs. And 1 out of 1 in the category of “Being the Most Hated Man in Ghana.” 9 out of 10 for Luis Suarez.

Jeremy Stahl is a Slate senior editor. You can follow him on Twitter.

 

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