Nick Harper reflects on Luis Suarez's bite ban, Ronaldo's peculiar punishments and some good ol' Ghanaian in-fighting...
Day 15 of the World Cup was a very strange affair. Easily the weirdest of the World Cup so far, and full of really bad news.
You'll have probably heard by now that Luis Suarez received his punishment for sinking his fangs into the shoulder of Giorgio Chiellini. Finally, after deliberating through the night, FIFA's disciplinary committee finally issued an official statement which read:
"The player Luis Suarez is regarded as having breached art. 48 par. 1 lit. d of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FDC) (assault), and art. 57 of the FDC (an act of unsporting behaviour towards another player)."
And then something about art. 38 par. 2a, a bit about art. 22 of the FDC and, of course, an obvious reference to art. 21, which can't have surprised any of us.
The top and bottom of it was that Suarez had been handed a record nine-game ban and a four-month ban from "all football activity", which makes it the toughest World Cup suspension in the history of, like, ever.
It beats the previous FIFA record for an act of wanton thuggery: the eight-match ban imposed on Italy's Mauro Tassotti for breaking Luis Enrique's nose at the 1994 World Cup. Given that Enrique is now the manager of Barcelona, the club who have apparently agreed to sign Suarez, who now wouldn't be able to play for them until November, you have to pity the poor Spaniard's luck – particularly if he has signed a psychotic cannibal for an inflated fee.
As part of the punishment, Suarez is not allowed near a football ground for all of those four months, nor is he allowed to talk about football, look at a football or even think about a football at any point over the next 16 weeks. Otherwise his fine of 100,000 Swiss Francs (£66,000) will probably be increased to a more appropriate £666,000 – the number of The Beast.
He'll still be paid by his club, though (unless he's gone to Barcelona), so he can expect £3 million in wages for contributing literally nothing at all. He might think of it as a kind of loyalty bonus for all his excellent work as a club brand ambassador over the last few months.
Now Suarez should have known FIFA were about to throw the book at him as soon as Bruce Springsteen got involved. He – 'The Boss' – spoke today of his love of The Soccerball World Cup, saying he'd watched "a little bit". "What are the rules about biting in the World Cup?" asked The Boss, who didn't wait for an answer. "There probably should be a rule," he sighed. "Because biting has no place in sports."
So is four months fair? The Original Ronaldo refused to be drawn, but said FIFA should have adopted the approach he employed when dealing with little children who bite. "I know that bites hurt," said Big Ron. "My young kids used to bite me and I used to punish them. In my room, punishment is called 'The Dark Room with the Big Bad Wolf'... I suppose for an adult, four months with no football is the same."
If The Dark Room is big enough, let's hurl Ghanaian midfielders Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng in there too. The pair were suspended indefinitely by the Ghana Football Association for disciplinary reasons and sent home from Brazil today.
Ahead of the team's crucial final Group G game with Portugal (that they lost), and just days after Ghana's president sent £1.76m in a suitcase on a plane to bribe the players not to walk out, Boateng is alleged to have hurled "vulgar verbal insults" at coach Kwesi Appiah during training. Muntari went a step further, with an "unprovoked physical attack" on a Ghanaian official that apparently and allegedly involved a broken MacBook Pro.
Boateng disputed the accusation, counter-claiming that the coach had actually abused him. "He insulted me," he alleged. "There were words like: 'F*** off'."
Words like'F*** off'? What might they have been, then? Boateng sadly didn't say, but let's shove the coach in The Dark Room with them and they can all fight it out together. Our money's on The Wolf.
Other stuff that happened
Elsewhere, there was some other news on Day 15. But be warned, not much of it was good.
There were some noises from Argentina suggesting that Sergio Aguero will miss the rest of the World Cup with "an injury", which is a pity.
Iran manager Carlos Queiroz announced his marriage was over and said he was getting divorced, which is also not ideal. "You can’t have a marriage when there is only one side that wants to marry," he said, in a clever metaphor for him leaving his job. He wanted a new contract, it never came... "The last 11 months I’ve waited and waited. There was a moment I was forced to take a decision, and today I just came here to say thank you." Thank you and goodbye.
And then some stats revealed that the actual playing times in games throughout this World Cup is 55.2 minutes, down more than 15 full minutes on South Africa 2010. That was a filthy old tournament and this has been a carnival by comparison, proving that it's quality not quantity. But even so, this is somehow an outrage and we're not best pleased.
Andrea Pirlo has reversed his decision to retire from international football. Now that's got to be good news! Only he's 35 and seems determined to play until he literally cannot move. This is bad news! Know when to bow out, Il Maestro.
There was some good news: Cristiano Ronaldo finally scored a goal! Boom! And Portugal finally won a game! Honk honk! But they still went out because Germany beat USA 1-0 to send them both through instead. Ah, balls!!
So no, there was no good news at all yesterday. And here's some really, really bad news to end on. Today is an official 'rest day', so there will be no football whatsoever for at least 24 hours. Get back in bed, close your eyes and come back tomorrow.