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"Moral Policemen" Not Doing Suarez Any Favors

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For much of the past year, John Barnes has proven to be a voice of reason on a range of issues, and his most recent comments about the criticism of Luis Suarez again show a level of insight and self-awareness that we're not accustomed to from the usual talking heads.

Stu Forster - Getty Images

On at least two occasions this season Luis Suarez has been denied a penalty that would have likely been awarded had he not been Luis Suarez, and nobody outside of Liverpool Football Club seems to be bothered. That makes enough sense, as Suarez is a quintessential "our guy" type of player, in that he's a lovely style of crazy and frustrating and borderline schizophrenic while playing, and were he wearing the shirt of any other side than Liverpool we'd probably be in the chorus of those who find themselves more annoyed than awed.

As far as pure ability goes there's nothing to be annoyed about--he's all-action all the time, and when it comes off, there's few footballers that can provide the type of confusingly wonderful how the hell did that just happen moments. The annoyance has everything to do with the way he goes about his business; it's a fiery, disregulated mess of anger and passion and joy, and for people that aren't supporters of Liverpool (and some who are), it erases anything he does on the pitch.

Which extends to drawing fouls in the penalty area, as plenty are content to argue that if he just fell better he'd win penalties, or that anything he's done leading up to an incident is enough to erase the legitimacy of said event. That doesn't fly for us, and it apparently doesn't work for John Barnes, either:

"In other countries players are not judged from a moral point of view, but that is the case in England because we are English and we are morally correct, we are the moral policemen of the world."

The moral custodians argument is one that Barnes used in January when Martin Samuel, Henry Winter, and Ollie Holt--who are all now doing their damnedest cast Suarez in a harsher light to buffer the impact of John Terry's four-match ban by the FA--were placing themselves atop the heap of self-righteous English journalists and pundits shouting down the evils of racism, tribalism, and non-Englishism, and it's still as applicable now.

Saying that Luis Suarez doesn't win penalties because he doesn't deserve them based on his playing style or on-pitch persona or the manner in which his head snaps back (which Jamie Redknapp and Gary Neville broke down Zapruder-style after the United loss) while falling is just the same old moralizing and self-righteousness. It's what led Brendan Rodgers to file a complaint with Mike Dean, and it's something that, even if the complaint from Rodgers and public decrying from Barnes are justified, isn't likely changing soon.