I am writing this article because I find that certain Liverpool FC supporters are still perplexed about what motivates Luis Suarez to do some of the things he does. For a few years, I have seen fans and media pundits try to offer their own interpretation on traits that are otherwise very recognizable to Uruguayan/South American football fans. You might be surprised to know that much of what influences his behaviour has to do with the football culture he was raised in, instead of it strictly being a product of his poor upbringing as certain pundits have guessed.
So, to all Liverpool FC supporters, welcome to our site. Enjoy: 3 key things you that you probably did not know about Luis Suarez. Explained:
#3. “Why does Luis Suarez celebrate and play like a fan? Does he really care for the clubs he plays for?”
Answer: Luis Suarez grew up in a culture that highly cherishes tradition and history in football.
Ask a Wigan supporter about their 1998 season, and they would surely laugh because it was “15 years ago! Who cares?”. However, a Liverpool FC supporter would become giddy at the prospect of talking about Liverpool’s 1964 league winning year. They are very different football cultures. The exact same dynamic exists in the Americas, especially regarding Uruguay/Argentina/Brazil vs. the rest of the continent. There is a certain adoration and regard for football history that the rest simply don’t find relevant.
The way Luis Suarez “feels” the game is different than how, say, Zlatan Ibrahimovic feels it. There is a popular South American saying that states: “Countries have their history. Uruguay has its football”. To Luis Suarez, completing a comeback win or scoring a dramatic goal is like re-creating the mythical feats and legends that he (and every Sky Blue player) grew up on and value to this day. For others it may seem weird to see a player care so much, but to me seeing Luis Suarez play like he does is very normal. Football is highly romanticized in the minds of these players and the result means more than a mere 3 points. While this is normal in South America, Luis Suarez has continued this tradition in Europe and formed strong bonds where he has played. It’s not surprising that Ajax supporters offered Luis Suarez an unprecedented farewell at the Amsterdam Arena, merely days after he had signed for Liverpool.
#2. “Why does Luis Suarez go down easily at times? Why does he often over-dramatize a foul?”
Answer: In South America, doing this is necessary in order to survive as a forward.
This is probably the most common question I’ve read asked by certain media pundits, and it’s understandable. South America has a very different view on what is acceptable or not on the pitch. In South America, defenders are extremely crafty, subtle and can foul you three times in a play without the referee noticing. Most of the time, the only way to be given a foul (well within the rules of the game) is so over-dramatize the foul. You will likely see Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero react in the exact same way. Take two weeks ago, when Jonas Olsson (West Brom defender) fouled Luis Suarez for a penalty. I switched over to the English announcers, and they were contemplating whether it was a dive or not. I switched over to the announcers from Spain, and they were applauding Luis Suarez for “finding the foul” (and it was a clear foul). This is a massive difference in interpretation. What Olsson did (and had been doing all game) was nudging and clipping Luis in a subtle way that would throw him off as the ball was arriving to him. What is often misinterpreted as “trying to con the ref” is usually Luis trying to highlight the subtle contact that the defender was trying to get away with. It is just the way he grew up doing things. As a child, it was re-inforced by family, friends, managers and the media that this is the correct thing to do.
#1. “Why is Luis Suarez so darn combative? Why does he never give up?”
Answer: The Garra Charrua
To someone like Luis Suarez, this concept is at the centre of everything he stands for as a football player. Just how “You’ll Never Walk Alone” has become synonymous with Liverpool FC, the concept of “Garra Charrua” has become synonymous with Uruguayan football for over 120 years. What is the “Garra Charrua”? The dictionary definition is: winning despite mountainous expectations of the contrary. However, this concept, and what Luis Suarez represents on the pitch, is very different from the conventional ideas of “never giving up” or “trying very hard”. It is a romantic belief (or duty) to winning, supported by a century worth of fables about near impossible football feats. Each of these fables have been passed down generation after generation…from grandfather to father…father to son…and son to grandson.
You must understand that Uruguay is a very small nation of 3 million people (half of Scotland). To its fans worldwide, as well as players and people of this country, there is something magical about this history and they feel strongly responsible (and anxious) with protecting it. However, the players must over-compensate for the country’s lack of population (and talent compared to Argentina and Brazil) with a surplus of effort and belief. Thus, this “warrior spirit” (Garra Charrua) is at the focal point of everything they grow up around, and it must be displayed even when playing for foreign clubs. Luis Suarez grew up valuing “leaving your soul on the pitch” more than just playing well because it is an integral (and renowned) aspect of his country’s football identity.
Suggestion to LFC Supporters: If you ever make a flag that says “Garra Charrua” (typically done on a light blue surface, written in black), it would actually mean the world to Luis Suarez.
I hope this article clarifies a few things for Liverpool FC supporters. I decided to write this after visiting their beautiful city this summer and speaking to many of their supporters. So, the next time you watch Luis Suarez play, maybe his actions will make more sense to you.
Thanks for visiting!
Written by: Foxfang4 (@Foxfang4)