As one newspaper brilliantly put it ‘the third bite is the deepest’.
While to my knowledge no-one has yet asked Cat Stevens what he thinks about the latest Luis Suarez controversy, my bet is he would be appalled, joining everyone outside Uruguay in agreeing that a hefty suspension was the only suitable punishment.
A worldwide ban on football activities for four months, a nine-match international ban and a token fine of $118,000.
But is this enough? In my opinion, no. He will miss only 13 matches for Liverpool — nine league games, three Champions League ties and one Capital One encounter — which is not much more than the 10-matches he got for enjoying the Serbian flesh of Branislav Ivanovic.
FIFA had to make an example of him — this shows how decisively they can act when they know the whole world is watching — but he is a repeat offender and, three bites in, the ban should have been longer.
Before FIFA’s ruling, eight months was my own personal verdict. And while the ban is unprecedented, it comes up short on my expectations. Yes, he has been deprived of the rest of the World Cup in his prime but this goes beyond Brazil. Football is such a global game that such acts of violence can not be seen to be tolerated. While this incident involved a tough Italy defender rather than a member of the public, remember that Eric Cantona got nine months for karate-kicking a fan, while basketball player Ron Artest, sorry, now Metta World Peace, got 86 games (more than a season) for taking down a supporter.
Different scenarios, of course, but Suarez should surely be looking at a longer ban.
Uruguay’s claims of conspiracy have done nothing except make them look stupid, although their bitter disappointment at how their World Cup has unravelled is understandable.
Liverpool will probably feel the most aggrieved at the ruling. Having invested such time and effort in standing by their star man and claiming he was a reformed character, Suarez has let them down again, albeit in different colours.
The Reds, I’m afraid, are collateral damage. The issue is bigger than one club. Millions of people manage to play the beautiful game around the world year round without resorting to repeated acts of cannibalistic behavior.
Suarez should count himself lucky. He’s got off lightly.