Luis Suárez has consistently been in the eye of the storm. No matter what good he’s done, the Uruguay and Barcelona star strikes has always managed to maintain his reputation as the villain. Whether you’re focusing on his biting incidents, his diving, or his alleged racism, there’s plenty to criticize Suárez on.
On the flip side, the Uruguayan striker also does plenty of good in the world. Most recently, the forward met with a group of Uruguayan children that came to visit Barcelona, and gave them a tour around Camp Nou, all while signing soccer balls and taking selfies.
Is Suárez as bad a person as his reputation would have you believe? In 2014, he gave away 500 Christmas baskets to kids at a hospital in Uruguay. In 2015, he held a Skype chat with a young cancer patient, bringing the kid to tears of joy. In April of 2016, after meeting a young fan with phenylketonuria–a rare blood defect–Suárez was brought to tears and dedicated his next goal to the youngster; he even went on to launch a charity auction for PKU research.
These aren’t the typical stories that you’d expect to read from someone who has consistently been dogged with accusations of being a bad guy. To be fair, there’s no arguing with his biting incidents. They happened, and they aren’t the best example of good character. Suárez has a clear temper problem, and he’s highly competitive, sometimes to a fault. But if they weren’t such bizarre incidents, they likely wouldn’t be held up as an argument against the Uruguayan as frequently as they are; soccer players throw punches, kicks, dirty fouls, and all sorts of unsportsmanlike actions at each other every game, and no one makes more than a peep about them.
Harder to rationalize is the accusation that the Uruguayan is racist, which stems from a 2011 incident with Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. Suárez was charged with, and found guilty of, using an insulting racial term in reference to Evra’s skin color by an FA commission. Suárez was fined over $53,000 and banned for eight games for the slur.
The forward was shocked that people would accuse him of being racist, and spoke out about the incident in his book, saying that it was merely a misunderstanding. “Is the word ‘negro’ the same in Spanish as it is in English? No, absolutely not. Am I a racist? No, absolutely not. I was horrified when I first realized that is what I was being accused of. And I’m still sad and angry to think that this is a stain on my character that will probably be there for ever. ”
Whether you believe him or not is up to you. Regardless, there’s plenty of evidence that Suárez isn’t what the media portrays him to be. It’s easy to demonize people for all the bad that they do, but rarely do people take the time to focus on the good. He may not be an angel, but Suárez is far from a villain. None of us are perfect, but Suárez is a community leader and a hero for young Uruguayan kids. Those who take to social media to call him a diving cheat or a racist biter would do well to take the full profile of the man into account before logging on.