I don’t know too much about football and the World Cup. My expertise is mostly limited to shouting, “Kick, man, KICK!” at the television once in four years and making keen observations like “GOALLL!” whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Then suddenly, during a World Cup match some days ago, an Uruguayan player called Luis Suárez noticed the Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini and decided that he wanted to get himself some of that. So he bit him.
And then all hell broke loose. Suárez now faces a nine-match World Cup ban and a four-month football ban.
If you ask me, they’re being too tough on the guy.
Firstly, Suárez’s argument for why he bit Chiellini is both compelling and tough to contest – he says his intention was not to bite. “I lost my balance,” he says, “making my body unstable and falling on top of my opponent.” Basically, he just happened to fall teeth-first into Chiellini’s shoulder. Fair enough. Losing your balance is a valid argument – and common enough, judging by all the times Ronaldo has lost his balance when in close proximity of a member of the opposing team.
It’s obviously a coincidence that this has happened to Suárez twice before – apparently, he has very bad luck when it comes to accidentally tripping into delicious shoulders.
If Suárez’s own statement and his puppy-dog face aren’t proof enough for you critics out there, that’s okay. We’ll do it your way. Let’s say that Suárez really did intend to bite Chiellini and that he was yearning for a bit of Italian as a palate cleanser after his prior gustatory experience with Dutch and Serbian.
I still think we’re being too quick to judge Suárez’s actions.
In the world of Twilight and similar wild, exciting vampire romances, a 27-year old Uruguayan footballer can hardly be expected to not indulge in a little experimentation. Frenzied young girls everywhere swoon after brooding young men with pale skin, an aversion to sunlight and neck fetishes. Perhaps Suárez wanted change the dynamic of his fan-following. A younger, largely female support base might do wonders for Uruguayan football. Suárez’s intentions were good, surely – he was willing to take one for the team. What’s one little live televised mouthful when there’s victory at stake?
Or maybe I’m reading too much into this. Perhaps Suárez wasn’t trying to change the support base, and was simply trying to see what all this vampire nonsense is about anyway. It’s something I’ve often contemplated myself.
We could see this another way too. Sportspeople often clench their teeth (this is called bruxism) when stressed. Clenching the teeth stimulates the release of stress hormone cortisol which produces the ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ response – causing them to fight back or run away. Suárez was stressed by the imminent possibility of losing the match. So he clenched his teeth. And unfortunately, due to an untimely combination of fate and the tendency of footballers to entangle themselves in a mess of assorted body parts, the Italian’s shoulders happened to get trapped between Suárez’s jaws.
It was Chiellini’s fault, really.
But my best theory comes from the most experienced biters themselves (other than Suárez himself, of course) – babies. Babies bite constantly and intractably. Why? Apparently, the gums are more sensitive than the fingers. So when babies bite, and put things in their little mouths, it is a process of learning. It helps them discover their environment and (get this) helps them find out more about the object or person they bite. It’s how they learn.
So when Suárez bites footballers, he’s learning more about them.
This is quite revolutionary. Suárez has taken a toddler’s favourite activity and made it his own. I’ll bet that, with all his experience, he’s probably honed it into a skill by now. When he bit Chiellini, god knows what sorts of things he was finding about him – what his favourite food is, what he likes to do in his free time, his favourite colour.
No wonder all the Uruguayans (including the Uruguayan President) gave him a hero’s welcome when he returned home after the ban was issued. Those sneaky Uruguayans have been hiding an undiscovered genius. His unique skill could be, in fact, the evolutionary trait mankind has been waiting for. All we need is for everyone in the world to do what he does, and then maybe, just maybe, this skill could evolve into the homo sapiens’ sixth sense.
So go out, reader, and get biting! A friend, a neighbour, a homeless man, anyone!
Evolution is in your hands.
P.S. Thanks, Suárez. The others may not recognize your genius but as a thank you present I’ve sent some a delicious Indian your way!