Early Doors

‘Vilified and Victimised – The Sorry Tale of Luis Suarez’

"I find it incredible that in nearly all the coverage about Luis Suarez this weekend, very little focus has been placed on the fact that he was actually the victim of a stamping incident within the first five minutes of the game.

"At this moment there seems to be one set of rules for Luis and another set for everyone else. Luis and another player were hurt in off-the-ball incidents that went unpunished but were caught on TV cameras. I also believe in this moment the vilification of Luis is both wrong and unfair."

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The above excerpt is from the soon-to-be-released book, 'Vilified and Victimised - the sorry tale of Luis Suarez', written by ardent preacher of footballing values and manager of Liverpool football club, Brendan Rodgers.

What he attempts to convey throughout the book is a sense of raw injustice - of senseless on-field violence, and of the spirit of the game being breached around the unfairly targeted main character.

One of the key issues highlighted is the idea that, once a falsely manipulated reputation is reinforced, it can become almost impossible for the injured party to be treated fairly by officials and authorities.

Less than a fortnight ago in a pre-release interview, Rodgers warned that readers would find his central character horribly out-of-favour with the public, and unfairly pilloried by large sections of the blinkered and ignorant media.

Referees were not giving decisions in Suarez's favour, and obvious penalties were being disgracefully overlooked. Indeed, he cited three legitimate penalty appeals that were turned down this season - against Sunderland, Norwich and Manchester United - with Suarez the wronged party on each occasion.

Worse still, there is a dark and horrific moment in the story where the sprightly Uruguayan is involved in a "stamping incident" within five minutes of the start. This, the author explains, is against the "values and spirit" of the club he represents.

Not only has Suarez unfortunately picked up a reputation for 'going down too easily', but he is the victim of "off-the-ball incidents that went unpunished but were caught on TV cameras". As anyone who subscribed to a Spice Girls fan club newsletter a few years back can testify, an unfavourable reputation is very hard to shake off.

For clarity's sake, the real baddie in the story is a huge, lumbering German with a penchant for planting his boot on the chests of people who he doesn't particularly like. This, it is made quite clear, is utterly despicable.

Suarez lifted his shirt, and there was a tiny red mark for all to see - he was, as Rodgers put it, "hurt".

Indeed, there is still another twist.

A sinister and brooding governing body by the name of 'The Football Association' refused to take any action on the German's "stamp", because it was seen and considered by the Men in Black. Rodgers leaves the reader in no doubt that this was utterly outrageous and absurd.

All that is required of the reader, according to Rodgers, is for them to "develop a sense of perspective". It is surely not that much to ask, given that it represents "a wider issue in football" - of diving and simulation. That should always be kept very firmly in mind.

Not only does Rodgers want to see the wider issues of diving and simulation unceremoniously wiped out of the game, but he is also seeking to "protect the values, spirit and people of this great club". A noble cause, no one can dispute.

It's an ambitious statement of intent from the engaging 39-year-old, but critics have rounded on his portrayal of the central character, arguing that he is a "conflicted character". To make matters worse, many have questioned Rodgers's own perspective in narrating this story.

- Renowned critic Tony Pulis provided a typically belligerent review: "Suarez falling over in the box was really, really disappointing and that should be highlighted. Retrospective decisions are made on a Monday and Luis Suarez should be punished. The one in the penalty box was an embarrassment and how he wasn't booked I don't know."

- Esteemed scholar of footballing conduct and etiquette, Jan Molby, had this to say on the matter: "It is not being melodramatic to suggest Luis Suarez is costing Liverpool penalty kicks with his conduct in going down trying to win them. I think Brendan might ask Luis to take the theatrics out of it. The problem for Luis is he is not being awarded penalties that he should have been given because he has gained this reputation. That is not helpful to Liverpool's cause."

- Alan Hansen, paid handsomely for his briefly-considered views at the British Broadcasting Corporation, had more sympathy with Suarez: "The English game is littered with players who go down easily. I think his reputation precedes him. Something has got to be done. I'm not talking particularly about Luis Suarez." Except he was.

- Former Liverpool striker Roger Hunt took a less sympathetic line than Rodgers: "Someone must tell him to stop it, just play football. He doesn't have to do all that. It's not asking a lot for him to stay on his feet in those situations. It won't be easy for him to lose that reputation but I think that's the way to go."

What Rodgers has achieved with this story, is to at least demonstrate his unwavering support for a less-than-popular character. Many will not agree with his portrayal of a man who seems to actively court controversy, but his tone is at least assertive; his argument robust.

Early indications are that the central character of Suarez will not be easily accepted by the wider public, but this is a valiant and courageous attempt by Rodgers to portray a perceived villainous figure in a very different light.

Alternative reviews of Rodgers's work are actively encouraged - post your thoughts below.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "They are big names of course. Not so big names as well (are on the list), good coaches and it is a very interesting mix. There are a lot of big names from football and definitely there are big, big names on that list. In this moment of time, I will not release any names. You can not ask a man of Sven Goran Eriksson's experience to apply for a job. That would be an insult to him. When we deem it fit to speak to someone who is in that category we will make the first approach." - Blackburn's respected global advisor Shebby Singh advises that the search for a new boss should be global. That it could be a big name, or it could not be a big name; that it could happen soon, or it could not happen soon.

FOREIGN VIEW: While many supporters of British clubs seem to spend most of their time attempting to get their managers sacked and board uprooted, River Plate fans prefer to focus their energy on breaking trivial records. They unveiled a 7.8 kilometre banner they claim is the longest in the world and fit for the Guinness Book of Records. The red and white banner measuring 7,829.74 metres was paraded by thousands of fans from the site of River's former ground in the Palermo district of the capital to the Monumental, their giant World Cup stadium in Nunez opened in 1938. Organisers said more than 50,000 people took part in the procession. Their side proceeded to win their match 5-0 with a quite stunning performance.

COMING UP: The day has finally arrived. Tears will be shed as the Football Association unveils the new £120 million St George's Park. The 'coaching hub and skill-enhancement factory' will open with royal approval this morning. It is sure to be a truly momentous occasion, and we'll have a story or two on it if we can keep our emotions in check. We will be scrutinising a refereeing decision from the weekend's action in our Whistleblower video feature - oh, and Paul Parker and James Horncastle will also be filing this afternoon.