Arsène Wenger and the moral dilemma over Suárez – A Rebuttal

A Response to  Sanchez-Cabello’s Piece @ Untold Arsenal

The beauty of Untold is the variety of thoughts and divergence of beliefs even if it is a primarily positive and pro-Arsenal site. Now having said this, I disagree with most of the premise of your article. But before I lay out my objections, I want to quickly clear something up.

In previous articles on Suárez, I was perhaps the most vocal opponent of the player. I am still. I hope we NEVER sign him. However, as I was expressing my opposition then, I used some words that I have thought more about and now want to take back.

I said that my respect for Arsène Wenger will be diminished and that my support for AFC will become lukewarm. I take these words back. It is VERY unfair on my part to use this one case against a man’s 17 years record or a club’s 127 years record. I will continue to respect Arsène Wenger and my love for and support for Arsenal will endure, Suarez or no Suarez.

I will never be a fan of Suarez though. I will not boo him when he wears the shirt but I will not be enthusiastic about him either.

Now to my point-by-point objections to your article:

I disagree with your reference to use of a loophole to sign a player as “dishonourable”. I find that line so unbelievable that I have to rub my eyes and read it thrice to believe that you actually wrote that! You may not like the use of loopholes, but they are not dishonourable. Have you ever had legal entanglements with little hope for justice even though you are on the right side? Would you call your lawyer dishonourable if he was able to get you justice via a loophole?

I know you are trying to make light of the biting incidents but I don’t find them funny. I have under-2 kids who don’t even bite any more! Plus, he is a serial biter! It is a disgusting and irrational habit for a grown man. Cantona’s kung fu kick was terrible but while I will never do that to anyone, as a man, I can understand physical violence in response to provocations, although I strongly disapprove. Biting is something totally different. Besides, the tangle between him and Ivanovic at the time was perfectly fair and normal in football. The guy is just plain nuts!

My biggest issue is racism. This is one area that Gooners who were looking forward to Suarez winning trophies for us are most willing to rationalise or overlook. This is made convenient for them by the lack of video (or even audio) evidence unlike the two biting cases that have unspinnable records. The racism issue is being eagerly cloaked with garbs of uncertainty and forgiveness by Gooners.

Not me.

As a black man living in a predominantly white country, I understand racism because it is a regular feature in my own life. I have ‘sucked up’ too many instances of racism because it is taboo to even talk about unless you have concrete hard evidence.

But the racist is aware of the stigma that the society attaches to the behaviour, so it is really rare to get hard evidence in racist incidents. They know what they can get away with and what buttons they can and cannot push. If I get called a n****r with no willing witnesses around, the abuser just needs to shed tears and fake outrage about being accused of racism and I will end up being accused of playing the race card!

I also think the excessive outrage from the public in racist cases often turns the perpetrators to become the victims. But all in all, racism is alive and well in England, even though the people will fight this notion with all the strength in their being.

In laying my case against Suarez, I am going to be 100% fair to him on this matter by using his own account of the incident:

Evra (another player that I cannot stand and not because he plays for Man United. I like Vidic very much) taunted Suárez repeatedly. Then Suárez used a word that is perfectly normal to use on black people in Uruguay.

At this point, Suárez is still doing fine.

Then Evra complained and there was public outrage. The term used by Suárez is considered offensive in England. Suárez’s reaction from this point on is where he lost me and why I refuse to accept the earlier premise that he meant no harm or offence.

I will use an anecdote that I have posted in a comment on Untold in the past. I came from a very homophobic society. It will be considered offensive in my country of birth to say nice things about gays or to even defend them from their tormentors.

A few weeks after my arrival in the United Kingdom, I used a slur against a gay actor while watching TV with my cousin and host. He enlightened me on homosexuality and the fact that civilised and open minded people have no reasons to indulge in homophobic thoughts, sentiments or attitudes. My stance towards homosexuals changed that evening!

Even if Suárez’s word choice is mainstream in Uruguay, a better person would be genuinely apologetic when he finds out that it is offensive here and make genuine effort to apologise and bury the hatchet. Even if provoked in the first place. I guess many of the readers would have been in situations where you ended up apologising to provocateurs because you reacted in a harsher or less acceptable manner. I know have. I did not enjoy it, but it was the right thing to do.

Wayne Bridge refused to shake John Terry’s hand because he slept with his wife. Perfectly understandable! Suárez’s refusal to shake Evra’s hand should be rationalised as what? Sulking for being called out for using racially offensive language against another human being, even if he is as despicable as Evra? And please don’t say that he apologised, that was a template written by someone in Liverpool media and communications department. Besides, refusing to shake the hand of the victim of his action after the apology basically nullifies the apology. It also shows Suárez’s gross lack of maturity.

Like I have always said, there is nothing I or any other fan can do about which player is signed or not signed by Arsenal. I understand and respect this fact as anybody who might have read one of my tirades against the buy-buy-buy brigade can tell. What I am against here, as I was in that Walter’s article, is the 180 degrees that Arsenal fans are now making on Suárez and the revisionism and selective amnesia that is now prevalent in Goonershere on his actions. Dominic Sanchez-Cabello’s piece is along this line, hence this rebuttal.

I will finish by reiterating that whatever Arsène does on Suarez, I will continue to be a loyal supporter of Arsenal Football Club and our manager, ArsèneWenger while hoping that the club does not regret the decision to bring the player to the Emirates.

Cross posted at Untold Arsenal

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