Luis Suarez headed in an equaliser yesterday which means Champions’ League qualification is back in Arsenal’s hands. As an Arsenal fan, this is theoretically good news. As a football fan, however, the fact remains Suarez shouldn’t have been on the field.
Indeed, Suarez leaves a bitter taste when considering a once great club. The thing about the all-conquering Liverpool FC with which I grew up was that they not only played great football, but they also went about it the right way. When Arsenal went to Anfield and seized the title in injury time in 1989, the home fans stayed on and applauded the visitors – a mark of a truly magnificent football institution with fans to match.
I for one had always respected Liverpool FC for that. Yet this respect had already been shaken by the club’s abject refusal to rid itself of Suarez after a thoroughly unpleasant racist incident involving (the innocent) Patrice Evra. FIFA may be mealy mouthed about racism, but we expect this from the fundamentally corrupt institutions which run the game. We do not expect it from what had previously been the game’s greatest club.
That bitter taste rebounded yesterday as Suarez, not for the first time, did his best impression of Mike Tyson – and not with his fists. The club now has an opportunity to do what it should have done the first time. For the sake of itself and of the game, let us hope it gets it right this time.