Italy, yet another previous World cup winner have been knocked out of the world cup along with Spain and England so far. It wasn’t the best of games and an 81st minute goal from the Uruguayan captain, Godin was enough to send La Celeste through to the knockout stages.

However this is a game that will be remembered for an alleged bite from the Uruguayan talisman, Luis Suarez. This is the 3rd such incident of his career after previously been banned while playing for Ajax for a bite on PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal earning him a 7 game ban and another 10 game ban for a bite on Bratislav Ivanovic when representing Liverpool.
While the video evidence of this latest incident isn’t as conclusive as the previous two, it doesn’t bode well for the striker who hit 31 league goals for The Reds last season earning him applause and awards domestically for his achievements. His remarkable change in behavior has also been noted, many saying he had turned a corner.

Suarez is a man who has the undoubted talent of a world class striker, he can win or change games by himself, he puts the fear of God into defenders, scores unbelievable goals, and many hail him as the 3rd best player in the world only behind Messi and Ronaldo but he is also a player who courts controversy.
He has been called and charged as being a racist with no evidence other than the testimony of a two players from the opposition then given an 8 game ban on this evidence by the FA whereas John Terry who is clearly visible on TV shouting racist slurs was only given a 4 game ban.

He has been labelled a cheat by admitting he dived in a game. Gareth Bale, the world’s most expensive player was yellow carded 7 times for trying to con the ref with simulation. This is over twice as many as the next player, Fernando Torres who is on 3 cards for the same offence. Was Bale ever crucified the way Suarez was? Not a chance, he is British after all. So from a media perspective, could this be construed as being racist on their behalf? They hammer one man for his actions/honesty, ignoring the next as he is from the same island as the papers are published. It stinks of hypocrisy.
I’m not defending what Suarez done in last night’s final Group D game, far from it. In fact if he is found to be guilty then a lengthy International ban should be given. The longest international ban given to any player goes to Italy’s Mauro Tassotti when he was suspended for eight games in 1994 for breaking Spain’s Luis Enrique’s nose with an elbow.
Zidane was also given a ban for his head-butt on Matterazzi in the 2006 World Cup final, the ban was not as long as Mauro Tassotti but he retired from international so it didn’t really matter. The point is the media are calling for Suarez to be banned for up to 2 years or 24 matches which is the maximum that can be imposed under FIFA’s rulings.
Biting someone is disgusting and cannot or will not be condoned by any fan around the world but 24 matches? Give me a break.

Roy Keane ended Alf Inge Haalands career with a pre meditated tackle in 2001. Keane was subsequently given a 5 week ban by the FA. Alf Inge Haaland had to retire from football from the injury. Keane was back playing no more than 35 days later earning 100K a week along the way.
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Eric Cantona was given a 9 month ban for giving a fan a Kung Fu kick in the stands. A fan who was hurling abuse at Cantona as he trudged past him after receiving his marching orders seconds earlier from referee Wilkie for a flick out at a Crystal palace player. Nine months? Does that sound right to you? It doesn’t to me. The money players make in football is astronomical but that doesn’t give any fan the right to abuse the players in which they are for 90 minutes every week. Some of the stuff I have heard from the terraces is absolutely shameful especially when there are so many kids around as well. Don’t get me wrong, Cantona’s actions were wrong but the ban was excessive in my opinion.
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If I done something wrong in work and I was abused the way fans abuse footballers constantly, I would possibly react the same way somewhere along the line, just because they are public figures doesn’t mean they are public property.
So tell me now again why Suarez should be hit with a 24 game ban for biting an opponent, An ex-Leeds United player, Danny Mills, even suggesting he should be jailed. Danny Mills giving advice on morality issues? That’s comedic.
This is a flawed genius. Banning him for 24 games or 2 years is what the media want, well the British media. This is also the same player that knocked England out of the world cup after only 2 games. Is there a hidden agenda here? Most certainly. It’s the same media that showed the photo shopped pictures of the bite marks on Cheillini’s shoulder minutes after the final whistle blew, is that responsible journalism? No.
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The Spanish media have reacted by saying ‘Suarez has some bite, unlike our national team’, the Italian media are more interested in blaming Ballotelli for their world cup exit, and they couldn’t care about the biting incident, the South American press find it comedic that the English press are so obsessed by this.

The Ban
Suarez was given a 9 game international ban and 4 months worldwide ban. Justified? The international ban? Yes. The worldwide ban, outrageous, who makes these rules? Absolutely shocking that his club whether it still be Liverpool or Barcelona will have to do without their player until October 26th.
When Suarez bit Ivanovic he was banned for 10 games for Liverpool. Liverpool were without their talisman for 10 games not Uruguay, they were not affected by this at all so why should there be double standards? He will now miss the first 9 league games for Liverpool and also 3 champions league games, that’s 12 games altogether for something that happened on international duty. To say this is an injustice against Liverpool would be putting it mildly
Its completely absurd that he should actually miss more games for Liverpool than for Uruguay and not only that, it means during this worldwide ban he cannot enter a stadium, train with his fellow teammates, do any charity work for the club, he is to have no contact with any football related activity until October 26th. So when he finally does come back into training he will be miles behind everyone in terms of sharpness, match fitness etc so it’s really a ban that will still be affecting Suarez and his club well past the October deadline.
More than likely Suarez will be plying his trade at the Nou Camp come the start of the new season. I’m almost certain they will be trying their utmost to get this ban reduced and so they should. It’s diabolical that the club should suffer this sort of loss when it didn’t happen on their time.
I’d be confident that Barca’s appeal will see some sort of leniency given in this punishment. Whether that be a reduction in the number of matches he will miss or the worldwide ban lifted so he can continue to train with his teammates during preseason and up to October 26th so at least he is that bit sharper when he can finally play.

FIFA really need to look at themselves here. I’m not saying the international ban is wrong but the worldwide ban is and it’s not just that. There is no consistency to how FIFA dish out punishments and that is filtering all the way down to the referees on the pitch. How many times are we discussing ridiculous decisions by referees each week in the leagues around the world? Some of them are mind boggling, one week it’s this, the next week it’s that.
It makes no sense at all. Why? Because the powers that be who should be the leading light in all matters of rules, organisation, punishment, discipline etc are merely a dim streetlamp in a dark alley where nobody is sure which way to go.

There is no better place to stage a world cup than Brazil. Actually let me re-phrase that, there’s no better place to be during a World Cup in Brazil than Rio.
In 2010 while I was travelling around South America I got to watch Argentina’s opening World Cup fixture in the FIFA fan park in Buenos Aires, the weather wasn’t the best but the atmosphere was great especially with Argentina getting an early goal in this game, they did struggle for the rest of the match but eventually got the win in the end. It was a good start to their campaign under the leadership of the iconic Diego Maradona.
Statue of Maradona inside Boca Juniors stadium
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Getting interviewed by Linnett after the game
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FIFA fan park in Buenis Aires
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Moving on through Uruguay I got to witness the party scenes on the street of Montevideo when they qualified for the knockout stages of the tournament when they finished top of their group by beating Mexico in their final group game.
The streets were absolutely rammed with supporters singing, waving their flags about like they had actually just won the world cup. There were cars driving up and down the main area of the city beeping their horns causing mayhem, in a good way though. The noise on that night in the city was unreal, so loud, it was electric and it went on into the early hours of the morning. Amazing scenes.
On the streets of Montevideo – the picture hardly does the scenes any justice
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Linnett at a wall mosaic near Lapa, Rio
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However none of these places even compares with Rio de Janeiro!!! The FIFA Fan Park here is on the Copacabana beach itself. I can’t imagine a better location to watch World Cup matches than on a giant cinema size screen, surrounded by bars, food stalls, 32 degree heat and around 30,000 other football fans from all around the world. The majority of the women there wore just their bikinis and the men just a pair of shorts holding a cold beverage. It was paradise for a football fanatic.

FIFA fan park on Copacabana Beach
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It was especially mental when Brazil were playing. Their fans love football more than any other nation. Some of them actually live for football, whether it be the local club playing or the national team, Brazilians cannot get enough football into their daily lives. I have seen Brazilians watching matches on the big screen, in bars, crowded outside shops like Bang and Olufsen peering through the window or on the smallest TV imaginable as they are trying to multitask by selling goods from their stall but catching as much of the match as possible. They will do almost anything to see their country’s footballing heroes take to the field in that famous yellow jersey and blue shorts.

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Without doubt, Brazil and the Maracana in particular is the spiritual home of football. When I was up at the Christ the Redeemer statue, on one side you can see Ipanema, Copacabana, Botofogo Bay to name a few and on the other the legendary Maracana Stadium. It’s a jaw dropping view.
Below: Looking all across Rio from the Christ the Redeemer statue – Copacabana beach to the right, Botofogo Bay just below the Sugar mountain peak in the middle of the pic
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Even though the Maracana may not be as vibrant as it once was, and the area around it offers little to entice the tourist or football fan to hang around after a game, walking up to this temple of football and the history behind it was a real highlight.
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Inside we got to take a walk through the changing rooms, the area where the players get interviewed after a game and of course on to the terraces where a paid crowd of 173,00 watched the 1950 World Cup final between Brazil and Uruguay. It’s said that the actual attendance that day was over 210,000, a record for a team sport that still remains to this day. Unfortunately for Brazil they lost the final that year, something the players of that team were never forgiven for.
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Part of the goal where Pele scored the 1000th of his career
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The heart-breaking part about being in Brazil for the world cup was watching them get humbled by Holland and knocked out of the competition, the whole atmosphere understandably changed. The fans were destroyed.
On that day there was a sense of injustice on the streets of Rio in that they expected their team to win the World’s biggest football prize as they probably going into every tournament and when they didn’t, Brazilians find it extremely hard to take. They’re are almost inconsolable as if a relative has just died. It really is remarkable how football takes a grip of some people.
With Brazil now hosting this year’s World Cup, nothing short of winning it would be acceptable to possibly the most passionate of football fans. I hope for the sake of the people of Brazil that they are triumphant this summer. It won’t take away from the fact that hosting the tournament has cost billions when it could have been spent better but for some it might help ease the pain.

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Botafogo Bay, Rio

In the summer of 2010, I stayed in Rio for what was only supposed to be around 4 days but turned into over 2 weeks and every moment of it was fantastic from the variety of different foods tasted to the friendly people who served it or just folk you get chatting to on the street, in pubs, cafes or hostels to the more risky areas in the nightclubs of the favelas, I don’t think I have a single bad memory of Rio.

Highlights

The scenery is spectacular especially from the summit of Corcovado where Christ the Redeemer statue overlooks the entire city. From this panoramic spot you get a 360 degree view of Rio, a view that has yet to be beaten by any other city I’ve ever been to.  Yeah the crowds gather here from early morning right the way through the day until late in the evening but that’s to be expected at one of the worlds iconic monuments and the swarms of people definitely do not take away from this breathtaking experience. Nothing could.

sitting at Christ the RedeemerView from Christ the Redeemer

Then you have the beaches in Rio, every one of them stunning, every one of them filled with beautiful women…and men it has to be said (the bastards), 90% of them tanned and toned, dunno where they get the time to keep their bodies in such savage shape!!! There was a few absolute beasts on show which I suppose you get anywhere but they didn’t seem give a toss of what people thought of them as they just strutted around in their G-bangers,  living and loving every minute of life. I think Brazilians in general are just brought up to show off their bodies and be proud no matter what shape or size, great attitude.

I stayed up in the more trendy Ipanema (or so I was told) which is the next beach up from the famous Copacabana. It’s a little more chilled out up there and has more of a local feel to it than the bustling Copacabana but is probably also more expensive.

However thats not to say that Copacabana is to be avoided, far from it. This beach is everything that you see in the postcards, on the TV…and more. It’s packed, clean and generally safe. Thats not to say that if you start counting your wads of Brazilians Reals or leaving your camera on display while you go for a dip you wont get robbed, you will. But for the most part if you’re not a total wanker and take precaution you should be fine. And once you get onto to Copacabana or any of beaches in fact, just sit back and enjoy. What a spot!!! Over 30 degree heat, amazing views, crowds playing beach football, volleyball, tennis or ‘who gives a shit-ball’, there was always something going on somewhere along these stretches of sand. I went for the more relaxed approach of just chillin while drinking cocktails through a straw out of a coconut. This is probably the main reason that I stayed in Rio for longer than I should have, why the fuck would I want to leave? Its not just Copacabana but all of the beaches in Rio are unbelievable.

chillin like a villain with my cocunut cocktailview from Ipanema

Partylife

People say to stay away from the favelas in Rio as they are extremely dangerous and some of them probably are so you ned to choose carefully which area you go to but if there’s a gang of you going up from your hostel or wherever you are staying then you shouldn’t have any problems. The favelas should be embraced by tourists not avoided although its easy for me to say that as when I went to a nightclub in one of them we had a 6’5′ monster of a german bloke with us that could probably crush a man with one hand so I was fairly confident of coming back alive. The nightclub itself was savage craic, around 50 cent entrance fee with drinks no more than 1.50 Euro or something crazy like that. I thought I was a decent, not great but decent mover on the dance-floor until I seen these Brazilians shake every part of their bodies, see ya later, no contest.

Lapa, a bohemian style neighborhood in the center of Rio is another must location on the ‘to do’ party list. Hundreds of maniacs spilling out from the clubs onto the streets under the arches with their beers, cocktails or whatever they’re drinking going to the early hours of the morning. Its best not to veer off from the crowds as behind the dark corners it can be a little dodgy as one of the lads in my hostel found out, robbed of all his money and jewelry as he roamed away from the rest of the group but again just be smart, stay with your mates and GO WITHOUT FEAR, its a savage spot.

Tram up to Samta TeresaLapa street party

Also the tram from Lapa is another on the ‘cannot miss’ list. It takes you high up into the hilly neighborhood of Santa Teresa, a beautiful old, picturesque area of Rio which reveal even more striking views of the city.

People say Rio is one of the most dangerous city’s in the world? Whoever says that is a moran and its probably the same idiots flashing the cash that are basically walking around with a sign on their back saying ”ROB ME, I’M A GOBSHITE’ and that’s exactly what has happened. Like any big city, you need to take precaution and if you do here, this place will blow your mind. It’s incredible and with the world cup a couple days away, its the only place to be for the month of June.

SAVAGE

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