Luis Suarez is an outstanding footballer, one of those perfect hybrids of supernatural skill and superhuman levels of determination, but he's really not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Perhaps that's the pay-off for being blessed with such sublime talent; you're left with the common sense of a small pebble.
It is one thing for Suarez to dive against Stoke. It's another to openly admit that he dived against Stoke. Long-suffering Liverpool supporters have asked for some time, and with some justification, why the likes of Gareth Bale and Ashley Young are treated differently by some sections of the media. Well, now there's a convenient answer. Because Bale and Young are smart enough to keep up the pretence that a light brush on the thigh is enough to send them spiralling to the ground like a crippled sparrow. Bale even appeared on television burbling nonsense about any contact equalling a foul and he kept a straight face from start to finish. You have to admire that commitment. Unfortunately, in admitting that he deliberately 'fell inside the box,' Suarez has painted a great big target on his bottom and bent over in front of the world's press.
This will bother Brendan Rodgers more than any potential smear to Liverpool's good name. While there is no doubting his passion for the club and his desire to be seen to do things 'the right way,' his primary concern is winning football matches, an objective made far easier when referees give you the occasional penalty. When Rodgers spoke to reporters in the wake of the 1-2 defeat at Tottenham in November last year, he had a face like thunder.
He was furious that his team kept appealing for penalties only to receive nothing. And no wonder. It was quite clear that one of the reasons they were missing out was that too many referees had seen Suarez, or Steven Gerrard for that matter, dive on the television and were scared of being caught out. It took another month for Liverpool to finally win a spot-kick, secured ironically enough when Suarez tumbled over against Stoke on Boxing Day. Now, after this little outburst reaffirms the Uruguayan's reputation, Rodgers will fear that the penalty drought will start all over again.
This is what happens when footballers try, not to be clever, but to be seen to be clever. We saw it in 2004 when David Beckham, having just injured his ribs and knowing that he would be injured for at least a month, deliberately clattered Wales' Ben Thatcher before asking to be substituted. While few players have ever needed an excuse to clatter Thatcher, Beckham knew that a yellow card would cause him to miss the next game through suspension and, given that he was already injured, it would therefore clean his disciplinary record for the rest of the campaign. The referee duly obliged and Beckham trotted off clutching his bruised side and trying to not to grin.
"I am sure some people think that I haven't got the brains to be that clever," said Beckham afterwards, twirling his moustache and stroking a fluffy white cat. "But I do have the brains."
Naturally, his comments caused uproar. The press were outraged, booming columns were commissioned attacking the England captain for his conduct and before long Sepp Blatter was on the phone demanding a meeting with Football Association representatives and grumbling that this was not, "behaviour that befits an ambassador of football." So much for those brains.
We all knew that Suarez had dived, because we're not stupid. We all knew that Beckham had fouled Thatcher on purpose because he walked off afterwards with the kind of crafty look on his face that would have any store detective in the world checking his pockets at the door. Their transgressions were not the problem. Admitting them and apparently expecting a pat on the back was the problem. Suarez needs to either go on a media training course or start replying to all interview requests with the stock phrase, "I'm ever so sorry, but I'm afraid I'm far too stupid to speak publicly."
Unless of course this is all a contrived attempt to manufacture a media frenzy, thus enabling him to flee to the sanctuary of a bigger, more successful club using the excuse that he has been hounded out of England by a mean-spirited and xenophobic media. But Suarez hasn't got the brains to be that clever... has he?
If he has, he should really keep that one very quiet.