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OVERBITE: This year Suarez just smiles

OVERBITE: This year Suarez just smiles

It doesn’t matter what you write about me, just make sure you spell my name right.

That sentiment, which could also be expressed asany publicity is good publicity, has been kicking around the public relations world for ages; and it would seem the reason for that is because most people have very short memories.

I’m going to look to the world of professional football now and take what has happened over the past two seasons withLiverpool’s Louis Suarez as an example.

As you may, or may not, recall, one year ago the Uruguayan striker was starting a ten match English Premier League ban for biting Chelsea defender BranislavIvanovicon the arm – an event that was captured on live TV and replayed repeatedly around the world.

Pretty much everyone who follows football saw it or at least knows about the attack.

Many also would have seen old footage of Suarez biting an opposing player in the Dutch League when he played for Ajax.

Those events, combined with several blatant dives in the penalty area and an incident where he allegedly directed a racially abusive remark at Manchester United defender Patrice Evra,drove the striker’s public image into the mud.

He was even a villain in the eyes of many Liverpool supporters and when Arsenal tried to buy Suarez in the summer, many of their supporters, including me, wererelieved the £44million offer failed to trigger a release clause in his contract.

How times have changed.

Liverpool are now in pole position for the Premier league title and Suarez is seen as a god by the team’s fans.

He is acknowledged as one of the three best players in the world and almost all supporters of all teams around the world, including Arsenal would love to have him in their side.

The point here is that when we are dealing with TV commentators, newspapers and public relations people what we see is not what we get.

Suarez has undoubtedly bitten at least two opponents so he definitely has some mental problems.

He also may have said some offensive things but that is just his word against the word of Patrice Evra, and the relationshiphe has on the pitch with his black strike partners Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling indicates he is not a racist.

He also seems to enjoy setting up a goal as much as scoring one, he always acknowledges a good pass and he is one of the least selfish strikers in all of professional football.

We have seen Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong tumble from their golden boy images in recent years so I think it is good that the process can work the other way around as well.

I’m not saying Luis Suarez has suddenly turned into a wonderful person –he still falls down far too easily – but it is very interesting to note how much there is to admire in his game… and especially in his attitude and work ethic.

The thing is he might not have changed much during the past 12 months.

He probably wasn’t as bad as he was made out to be then and he probably isn’t as good as he is made out to be now.

I think it is important to keep that in mind these days when so many of us compare ourselves to people we see on TV.



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