April 22nd, 2013
03:25 PM ET

Pedro's Point of View: Does responsibility come with superstar status?

Does Luis Suarez's lofty status mean he should set a better example? (Getty Images).
Does Luis Suarez's lofty status mean he should set a better example? (Getty Images).

English Premier League footballers have it pretty good. They are rich, famous and idolized by millions of fans around the world.

It would be fair to say they are reaping the rewards of all the work done by English football officials over the last 21 years in making the nation’s top flight the most marketable and profitable soccer product on the planet.

However, as the Luis Suarez case showed this past weekend, the increased money has brought increased scrutiny, and that means players need to realize they have a responsibility to act in a professional manner.

Right now, the English Premier League is broadcast in 212 territories to 643 million homes and has a TV audience of 4.7 billion people.

Those are numbers released by the league itself, which has worked along with TV rights holders BskyB since 1992 to make it the most watched club football competition on the planet.

Every year the coverage has improved and right now every game is televised in HD with the host broadcaster using over 20 cameras to capture every inch of the pitch.

This means players can’t get away with anything. Twenty years ago, I suspect Suarez could have bitten Branislav Ivanovic without ever being caught.

I remember when Vinny Jones squeezed Paul Gascoigne’s genitals during a First Division game back in 1987.

Even though the picture became part of football folklore, there was never any video and there was certainly never an investigation.

I have also spoken with many former players who used all kinds of tactics to disrupt opponents, such as poking or pinching various parts of their bodies when the referee wasn’t looking.

What has happened over the last two decades is that with increased coverage and exposure, players in the world’s top leagues have become accountable for their actions.

Whether they like it not, that is the case. It begs the question, are they educated accordingly by their respective clubs?

Effectively, modern day footballers have become reality TV show characters starring on a global stage with fans judging their every move. That is the price they have to pay for their outrageous wages and luxury lifestyle.

Regarding Suarez, he should have known better. He was caught biting a player in a Dutch League game in November 2010 and served a seven-match ban.

In December 2011 he was banned for eight matches for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. Surely someone at the club has spoken to him about his conduct on the pitch and explained what he can and cannot do and say?

Players around the world should pay attention to the Suarez incident and the punishment surely heading his way. They should realize they have a responsibility to live up to the high expectations which come with being a highly paid superstar.

As this case has shown, nothing they say or do on the pitch will go unnoticed.

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Filed under:  Football
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Mark Lovell @LovellLowdown

    Many of these stars come from poor, under-priveleged backgrounds thrust into the full-headlights of fame and stardom at an early age. Many of course are not role-model material and cannot handle this.
    In an ideal world, players would be left to entertain us on the pitch and not burdened with social responsibilities. In simple terms, they get paid to kick a ball around but in the Beckham era where image is everything and means €€€€ $$$$ ££££ – the goalposts have changed.

    April 22, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Reply
  2. Saby

    Not really.If you are a superstar you are responsible for doing the things that made you a superstar. In Suarez's case this would be playing football... very well. As Charles Barkley once famously noted "Its not my job to be a role model." Its to play basketball.

    Having said that, Suarez is a pretty pathetic human being, but then that's not what I watch him for.. Now if the Pope bit someone...

    April 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Reply
  3. Henry

    Brilliant piece Pedro,as he has admitted his behaviour is inexcusable. But i think liverpool as a club should take the bigger blame for these reasons:

    1, failure to manage the post Evra incident well.

    2,failure to buy big players to support him on field of play as evidently shows his frustration growing bigger as the game wore on. This has been evident in Liverpool's play all season.

    April 22, 2013 at 5:01 pm | Reply
  4. JG

    Why is there a separation between conduct on and off the field? Suarez should have been arrested – immediately – for biting someone. You could never do this in any other setting and get away with it, so why is he or anyone else allowed to do this or similar abuses in a sporting event?

    Same should be true for brawls in baseball or any other sport. None of the players in the Pistons / Pacers brawl a few years ago faced criminal charges. Why not? This just reinforces the fact that athletes' celebrity status puts them on a different playing field than the rest of society. A fine for these players is like asking them for pocket change. What a joke.

    April 22, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Reply
  5. Funkpol

    I think it is not that important for a star to show that you're not just some guy that can kick a ball. If you have manners and you're polite you may not only be a winner but also a decent human beign.

    There's a lot more to life than just do what you're paid for.

    People like Christiano Ronaldo, Sebastian Vettel, Suarez, and many others sure are winners, but are they more than just what they're paid?

    I think legends, real legends are a combination of several things. To me a real legend has to be the best at what he or she does, and has to be a great person, a great human beign.

    My 2 cents.

    April 22, 2013 at 11:11 pm | Reply
  6. Djeniko

    I read somewhere that in south america players do whatever it will take to who matches. Andy Carrol did something worse than what suarez did but the english press did not shout too loud. In south america its nothing biting an opponent a little to frighten him a little to give you some chance. Its suarez! Crucify him. What of Carrol.

    April 23, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  7. JC

    Money, fame, athletic skills don't matter. There is a fundamental level of responsibility that everyone shares. I don't necessarily expect "superstars" to act better but I surely don't expect them to act worse.

    April 23, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Reply
  8. Fernando

    what a stupid question and article. Why athletes should have different standards? Is it because of money? or is it because they are well known faces on T.V.? ALL people must be hold accountable for their behavior and there must NOT be any preferential treatment for anyone regardless of their position in society. WE are guilty of their BIG head ego; we are guilty that those people’s mindset is that they deserve preferential treatment. BS…and WE shouldn’t expect them to be role models because WE pay them to play a sport THAT’S IT!!

    April 23, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Reply
  9. Miranda

    Nobody is excused to behave badly. If you are rich because your fans keep you where you are, the less you can do is keep doing your job in a professional manner, this job being, athlete, musician, acting... Any violence, physical verbally, etc. should not be tolerated. Everyone has to be acountable of their actions. In fussball to many players are insulting/hitting referees and fellows players. This needs to stop. Liverpool should share the blame for nurturing this unnaceptable behavior for soooo long. The excuse of this brat being too valuable, only shows that for Liverpool money matters more than being an responsable/professional player. Kids look at this and understand they can be violent, abuse others in the game but not matter, they will keep playing and receiving millions for bad behavior. Grow a back bone, instruct your players to play a professional game and punish them with big bans when they do. Don't give violence a place in game. For violence, I just need to go to the street or choose to watch a movie. When I sit to watch your game, the less I expect is for every single player to play a professional game.

    April 24, 2013 at 5:29 am | Reply
  10. Austin

    Hi Sport Lovers all over the world.

    This banned is not enough he is to pay some fine to, if am the FA he will pay some Amount of money, this is football not boxing or Biting competition, please know one should say he/she is not Happy with the FA dissension,
    Thank you English FA

    April 24, 2013 at 5:38 pm | Reply
  11. Imran Fariz

    With fame comes responsibility.Footballers are role models to many.What Suarez did is unacceptable.The FA should punish offenders fairly not just by their reputation.If it was any other player it would not be this long a ban.

    April 25, 2013 at 10:33 am | Reply
  12. mcalves

    Suarez, for all his goal poaching, is a swine. Is this an example of what a professional footballer's character has become in the 'modern game'? Actually biting an opponent? How does this even occur to a player? What shall we be seeing next, Suarez and Joey Barton on some lurid 'reality' competition? For all that they are paid, all the adoration showered upon them to behave like a rabid dog on the pitch -and at times off- should be cause for shame. I do not consider this player as an example of a professional, rather, of yet another spoiled, ignorant brat. Class? Matthews. Eusebio. Platini.Luis Figo. Zidane. Friedel. Messi, etc. Thankfully there are far better than this guy to yet be found playing the world's finest sport. This should be a game of gentlemen, not overindulged brats.

    April 25, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Reply
  13. Archie Dobson

    Dear Pedro,

    It seem to be unfair, when you speak about Lewandowski and his goals against RM. You have never said he is a Polish National or Polish striker. Just for your information (I think you know the best) – BVB is actually based on three Polish Nationals ( Lewandowski, Blaszczykowski and Piszczek).
    But when you spaek about Luis Suarez and his "behaviour" – I don't know how many times you said Uruguaian striker.

    So it sounds like: CNN IS PROMOTING BAD MANNER players AND COVERING BACKGROUND OF BEST PERFORMERS???

    Would you please explain WHY IS LIKE THAT?

    April 25, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Reply

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