The good, the bad, and the ugly (June 29): Suárez defence edition

No, the ‘Suárez defence’ is not a chess gambit, but it is a way of stifling an opponent. Luis Suárez, now almost less famous than comic portrayals of himself, reportedly told FIFA that he did not bite Chiellini deliberately, but lost balance and fell onto the man’s shoulder. I have to stop there. I’ve seen the replays enough times to know that Luis might have lost his mental balance and thought he was next to a shoulder of mutton.

Internet jokers, of whom I am one occasionally, lit into this near-ludicrous argument and lit up Twitter. Famous sporting philandering was now seen as ‘falling into the wife’ of a teammate. Zidane clearly stumbled and his head fell into Materazzi: it was not a deliberate head butt.

The problem I see is that some officials in Latin America may believe this arrant nonsense.
This World Cup has done much to put a little shimmer on international football, with a goal fest, and so-called underdogs pushing over big guns. It has also given us absurdity. Cameroon delayed their arrival over money. It was paid and they came and played like a bunch of 9 year olds. Ghana went on strike over appearance fees. US$ 30 million was paid, then the team played against Portugal like they had been paid off. They lost narrowly 2-1 but they lost heavily in self respect. Their home coming should be interesting. Their Suárez defence? They fell under an Obeah spell?

Referees have found the power of a can of white foam. Players are entranced and dare not move. But, the refs are still too often scapegoats for apparent bad decisions. FIFA may yet accept video review. The question is what or who will trigger a shift? My own speculation is that national associations have to feel badly wronged when review could have corrected wrongs. Many other sports use it and their future hasn’t dimmed. I also have a notion that sponsoring companies may tip the balance. Reviews mean stopping play and would give more potential advertising slots. Football is already difficult in that regard. Many viewers do not like banner ads on screens. Plugs during commentary are really silly. The sound of cash tills may do it.

We are now at the knock out stages. Two teams were packing yesterday, Chile and Uruguay. They added much excitement and caused much drama. Thanks. Brazil roll on. The organizers are happy. Cue Pharell.