Area soccer coaches, players and aficionados are certainly sinking their teeth into the World Cup.
But Luis Suarez’s evident bite of Giorgio Chiellini in Tuesday’s Uruguay-Italy game? Well, there is just no moral to those molars.
“I think the guy should be banned,” said longtime Lyman Hall boys coach Arnie Jandreau. “The good thing is there are cameras and this is the third time this guy has bitten someone.”
It’s no revelation: Soccer might not be football — scuzi, American football — but it is a physical game that can see the envelope of decorum and sportsmanship pushed ... and pulled.
And, yes, bitten.
Jandreau and fellow veterans of the game say they have seen quite a lot over the years.
“I’ve haven’t seen anything to that extent, but you see plenty of extra elbows and things like that,” said Cheshire girls coach James Luis.
“If you play the game the long as I have been in it, there is a lot of trash talking and there is a lot of chirping going on, especially on the corner kicks. It’s a big field and there is a lot going on,” Jandreau said. “I saw a kid head-butting someone at a state final game a few years ago and I went nuts about it and he eventually was thrown out.”
The Suarez bite? That seems to be unprecedented — unless, of course, you count the Uruguayan’s two previous gnashings in European league games.
Calls to mind a certain boxing match, doesn’t it?
“I’ve been playing and coaching for 30 years now and I’ve never seen anything other than Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield,” said former Cheshire girls and Platt boys soccer coach Andy Ashworth. “That’s the only incident in sport where I’ve see that.”
Actually, Ashworth has seen some rough-and-tumble up close in his role as general manager at the Waterbury Athletic Center. This is rec-league soccer, mind you.
“We have incidents all the time with grown men,” Ashworth said. “The police are often involved and fights break out. It’s part of the game, I guess, in a World Cup game with a lot at stake. With my situation, these guys want to let go after a tough day at work.”
The thing is, with all the running and the frequent body contact, soccer is rough and risky enough without the dirty play.
“We’ve had concussions,” said recently retired Platt girls coach Rob Beale. “They weren’t malicious or intentional. It’s a physical game, running five to seven miles a day. They are taking abuse and some are taking dives out there as well.”
The nastiness aside, area coaches are certainly enjoying this Brazil World Cup, which finishes up pool play today. Of some interest: U.S. vs. Germany at high noon. With a tie or a win, the Americans advance to the Round of 16.
“The World Cup is phenomenal,” Beale said. “I can feel the world coming through and the energy coming through the TV. It’s a big deal. There is a great energy from the planet watching. Even people who could care less about soccer, they are watching like it’s the World Series and the Super Bowl.”
“Are you kidding me?” Jandreau said. “I can’t wait until it comes on every day. I’m so happy that everyone is watching it. I’ve been watching soccer it for 40 years. Nobody knew what soccer was when I was growing up. I went to the Lyman Hall graduation yesterday and all of my players kept coming up to me and asking me if I saw the bite.”