Snarling pundits left to chew over unsavoury tournament antics

Eamo puts the boot in on his British peers while Gordon on ITV depresses all with his game devoid of morals

Day 15 and the verdict was in. Harsh? Lenient? Just about right? Divided opinion, of course, and some confusion too – as more than a few asked yesterday, does a ban on any ‘football related activity’ preclude you from, say, collecting Panini stickers?

All to be clarified, although we were finally told that the ban doesn’t rule out a club switch, so the removal vans might be called to Merseyside yet. But, said Didi Hamman on RTÉ, the whole business has taken “a large chunk off his transfer value”, his non-smile suggesting he wasn’t being puntastic.

It was a decidedly swift decision by Fifa, and those of us who assumed the ban wouldn’t extend to club football were left hugging the Liverpool fans in our lives, in a ‘there, there’ kind of way

Thoughts go out to Newcastle, the opponents for the Return of Luis, should he remain in England, a game for which the fella will be well hungry. “Feeling a twinge in me hamstring, gaffer,” Alan Pardew’s entire rearguard will inform him.


The gist on the verdict was that it was ‘severe-ishly fair’, although Gordan Strachan and his Copacabana shorts told us to cop ourselves on if we thought Luis would now be a pariah, reminding us that “we don’t have any morals in football”, that you can do all sorts and still will be welcomed back with a hug and a kiss.

“We’ve had wife batterers, drunken drivers, we’ve had infidelity, and the clubs stand by the players and they’re cheered on to the pitch on their return, that’s the way it is,” he said.

Bad lad

That left Adrian Chiles decidedly depressed (mind you, he’s a West Brom fan, so he’s used to the footballing condition), but Gordon’s shorts shrugged, such was life.

And, the point was made more than once, that the leaders in Luis’s life aren’t doing a whole lot to persuade him he’s been a bad lad. Eg - Uruguay’s president Jose Mujica: “We didn’t choose him to be a philosopher, or a mechanic, or to have good manners. I didn’t see him bite anyone. But they sure can bash each other with kicks and chops.”

See now, that’d be like Mary McAleese saying ‘go on ya good thing’ to Roy Keane, and accusing the Norwegian media of a conspiracy, after his brush with Alf Inge Haaland’s leg back in the day.

Over on RTÉ, and Eamon the Dunphy was letting rip at the BBC and ITV pundits for their hypocrisy on the matter, fellas, he intimated, who weren’t slow to chuck an elbow or head-butt in their time, or dish out the odd career-threatening tackle.

“I’d rather be bitten by Luis Suarez than have my leg broken or my leg smashed,” he said.

Darragh Maloney: “It’s not much of a choice though Eamon, is it?”

Not really, but you got the point. Giorgio Chiellini lives to fight another day – granted, in a nibbled kind of way – which leaves you wanting to talk to Joe to ask why are we more upset about a chomp than a leg-breaker?

Michael O’Neill, the Northern Ireland manager, had some sympathy for Suarez too, although his deer-caught-in-the-headlights look suggested he’d have preferred if Eamon didn’t reveal that he’d said off air that he “hoped he’d get away with it because he loves watching him play football”. “I’m not shopping you, Michael,” but he totally had.

Meanwhile, based on the previous 48-ish hours or so on RTÉ, you sensed this might be the day that our bet on another World Cup biting incident occurring would pay off - but, damn it, Kenny Cunningham wasn't on duty, only Richie Sadlier, so we'll have to wait to see if it's gnashers at dawn another time.

New levels

Kenny, as we know hasn’t quite seen eye to eye with Eamon thus far, that

Apres Match

sketch, where they came to blows over which World Cup competing country was the best holiday destination (“Costa Rica,” said Eamon, “Japan,” said Kenny, and thereafter it was war, over Sushi and the like) a thing of very lovely beauty. But Squirtgate took it to new levels.

On the off chance that you missed it, Kenny and Richie differed somewhat over the wisdom of Argentina’s Ezequiel Lavezzi squirting water over his manager, Alejandro Sabella, “if you’d done that to Mick McCarthy you’d have been lifted off your feet, literally,” said Kenny, and you’d imagine he was truth-telling.

“You’re getting too angry about everything,” said Richie, and Kenny sizzled, and that’s the moment the bet was placed. He’ll nibble Kenny’s shoulder yet, or vice versa, it’s only a matter of time.

Back to the football and Guy Mowbray told Mark Lawrenson that the United States fans were chanting their slogan, ahead of their encounter with Germany, “I believe that we will win”.

“Woah, they must have stayed up all night thinking of that one,” quipped Lawro.

Any way, the USA lost but kind of won, which will leave them even more confused about sawker Stateside, as our favourite Twitter person, usasoccerguy, put it:

“Looking like a disappointing end to the group sector for the US who will only go through as the winningest loser as things stand. #soccer.”

You might say the same about Luis, the winningest loser.