Importance of Role Models

images-19Having watched the football match between Uruguay and Italy it is very interesting to see the aftermath of the Suarez biting incident.

Suarez is a role model to millions of football fans and how his actions are dealt with could have some interesting effects.

I understand why the Uruguayan Football federation would support Suarez he is an important player, and without him their chance of proceeding further will be significantly impacted.

But that sends a message to people that, if you’re important enough it doesn’t matter what you do, you will be forgiven. Even if it happens in front of millions of people.

Is that a message we really want to send to young impressionable people?

His manager claims that there is insufficient evidence to find him guilty. I find this very interesting, because they don’t claim that Suarez is innocent, just that there is not enough proof to condemn him.

Which having seen the video slow motion and the photos of the bite marks, whilst I don’t want to pass judgement, I would say that I am happy that it’s not me who has to find a defence against that.

Another interesting aspect is that many of his team mates, rather than saying he is innocent, ask why the British press is so interested in the story that has nothing to do with them. They apparently seem to accept what he did and just want it brushed under the carpet.

His own lawyer, in the articles I read, doesn’t seem to claim Suarez is innocent, more that he was provoked into the action, and that the outcry is because of a conspiracy from England, Italy and Brazil who want him thrown out of the tournament.

When did being guilty stop being the issue? Did I miss a meeting?

Shouldn’t we hold role models to exactly the same standards as everyone else?

Suarez, who has twice previously been banned for biting, played down the alleged incident as “a situation that happens on the pitch”.  So Suarez himself doesn’t even deny he did it.

How will FIFA handle this?

There are views that even if they find him guilty, he could appeal against that ruling, which would still allow him to play in the next game, against Columbia.

FIFA’s own reputation because of corruption allegations is at an all time low and how they deal with this will have an impact on it, and definitely how this world cup will be remembered.

In one article I read, it stated that because this happened at a FIFA event, FIFA may – if Suarez is found guilty – only ban him from World Cup matches, which effectively would only ban him from one game at this world cup plus Uruguay’s next world cup qualification ages which would not start for at least 18 months.

So in effect the immediate penalty could be, if he appeals, that he is banned from World Cup Games, the next of which could be 18 months way, and he would be allowed to continue to play for his club.

It makes no sense.

Ideally as a role model it would be great to see Suarez plead guilty; accept his punishment; apologise; show some remorse; and look to get help to put this behind him.

However, how many of us believe that this will happen?

If we continue to laud him as a role model, brush things like this under the carpet, and remember he has already been found guilty of this twice and also for racism, all of which led to lengthy bans, but no change in his behaviour, then what are we telling the young people who look up to him. What kind of world are we looking to create?

Role models are important, they set the behaviours that we want to see modelled in our societies.

Now whilst we can’t control who becomes a role model, mores the pity; what we can do is ensure that they are held to the same standards as everyone else and that wrong is wrong no matter who you are.

What are your views? Do you think he is guilty, and if so, what length of ban would you recommend? I am very interested to hear your thoughts.

Gordon Tredgold

#Leadership Principles