LUIS SuÃ¡rez has claimed that he is on the â€œright pathâ€ to becoming a reformed character having sought help to cure his â€œimpulseâ€ to bite people â€“ but the Barcelona striker remains steadfast in his refusal to accept being labelled a racist over the 2011 incident with Patrice Evra.
SuÃ¡rez, who is set to make his Barcelona debut against Real Madrid on Saturday night, revealed that he has been seeing a therapist to cure his biting problem in an exclusive interview with the Guardian and admitted that he understood the uproar caused by his bite on Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguayâ€™s 1-0 victory over Italy at the World Cup, which led to him being banned from competitive football for four months.
â€œI think all the bad things I have been through are in the past,â€ SuÃ¡rez said. â€œI believe I am on the right path now, dealing with the people who can help me, the right kind of people.
â€œEveryone has different ways of defending themselves. In my case, the pressure and tension came out in that way. There are other players who react by breaking someoneâ€™s leg, or smashing someoneâ€™s nose across their face. What happened with Chiellini is seen as worse. I understand why biting is seen so badly.â€
SuÃ¡rez said that he had â€œno desireâ€ to speak to anyone in the aftermath of the match against Italy. Fifa initially banned the 27-year-old from all football-related activity for four months and he was unavailable when Uruguay were knocked out of the World Cup by Colombia, although the court of arbitration for sport later ruled that he was able to train with his Barcelona team-mates and take part in friendly matches following an appeal. However, he has not played competitively since June and Barcelona have been unable to select him since his Â£75m move from Liverpool.
The clash with Chiellini was the third time SuÃ¡rez has bitten an opponent: he had previously been banned for biting PSV Eindhovenâ€™s Otman Bakkal in 2010 and Chelseaâ€™s Branislav Ivanovic in 2013. He put each incident down to a momentary loss of control but added that he quickly realised what he was doing and pulled away. â€œYes, it is like an impulse, like a reaction,â€ SuÃ¡rez said. â€œAlmost as if you realise straight away.â€
However, SuÃ¡rez once again denied that he deserved to be banned for eight matches and fined Â£40,000 in December 2011 after he was found guilty of racially abusing Evra during Liverpoolâ€™s match against Manchester United that October and is adamant that the Football Association punished him without proof. SuÃ¡rez said that he called Evra â€œnegroâ€ once but justified it by saying that it is a common term in Uruguay.
â€œI know I was wrong with the biting and the diving but I was accused of racism without any proof,â€ SuÃ¡rez said. There were lots of cameras, but no evidence. It hurts me the most that it was my word against theirs.
â€œEvery culture has its way of expressing itself, and thatâ€™s a word people in Uruguay use all the time, whether somebodyâ€™s black or not black. It gets used a lot without those connotations, and thatâ€™s why it is completely different to how it is expressed in England, no?â€
SuÃ¡rez insisted that his intent was not to insult Evra. â€œNo, not at any time,â€ he said. â€œI just said: â€˜Why, negro?â€™ and it was just like asking: â€˜Why?â€™ These are things that footballers say, that happen all the time.â€ – The Guardian