LIVERPOOL striker Luis Suarez’s diving admission brought a swift rebuke from manager Brendan Rodgers, who described the comments as “unacceptable”.
In a television interview, the Uruguay international confessed he had tried to win a penalty in October’s goalless draw with Stoke by going down in the area.
He was unsuccessful in his attempts – although he escaped punishment – and his actions brought stinging condemnation from Potters manager Tony Pulis at the time.
Rodgers has staunchly stood behind his star striker when criticism has come his way but, following this latest admission, there was no defence.
The 25-year-old has been spoken to by the Reds boss, who stressed the issue will be “dealt with internally” – although the club would not confirm what that would involve.
“I’ve seen the comments and I think it is wrong. Certainly from our perspective it is unacceptable,” said Rodgers. “It is not something we advocate here. Our ethics are correct.
“I’ve spoken to Luis and he is totally understanding and knows where I’m coming from as manager of the club. This is a big club and whatever people do say goes around the world, and what was said was wrong and not acceptable – he takes that and we move on.
“There is no-one bigger than the club or the club’s image. The comments, from our point of view as a club, are not what we would want to hear.
“This is something which was obviously wrong and is not something we associate with as a club of this standing.”
In his interview with Fox Sports Argentina, Suarez admitted he even questioned himself after the tumble against Stoke.
“Sometimes you do things on the field that later you think ‘Why the hell did I do that?”’ he said.
“I was accused of falling inside the box in a match and it’s true I did it that time, because we were drawing against Stoke at home and we needed anything to win it.”
Only a week ago, in the wake of Suarez’s handball goal in the FA Cup win at Mansfield, Rodgers said he had spoken to the striker regularly about the criticism he receives and how to deal with it.
The signs this season were that those chats were having a positive effect, as Suarez has been in scintillating form with 19 goals so far.
However, the Uruguayan’s admission of diving prompted Rodgers to pull him in for another talk, as he is concerned what effect the comments may have on the team – and referees’ opinions – for the remainder of the season.
“You normally find players, when their careers are finished, admit to all these kind of things – he just happened to be honest in the middle of his career,” said the Reds manager.
“My main concern is the team. As long as it doesn’t affect our chances – we’ve only had one penalty this year anyway – but as long as it doesn’t damage our prospects in the future that is the most important issue.
“Anything that is detrimental towards that is something I don’t take too lightly and if that is something I think affects it, that [his chat with Suarez] was a clear message.”
Rodgers insists the focus which falls on Suarez, and the headlines which follow, is not an issue for his man-management skills.
“He is a real topic of conversation, football and media-wise, and, as a manager, my responsibility and leadership I have to make comment when I have to,” said Rodgers.
“It has been quite nice most of this season when it [speculation and criticism] hasn’t been about.
“He is tough-minded and, irrespective of what is out there, media-wise he gets on with his job. On the football side there are no complaints.
“I work with Luis every day so I know the character he is. I know he is a good man who wants to do the best for the club.”
CAREER PUNCTUATED BY CONTROVERSY
February 2007: Suarez made his international debut for Uruguay against Colombia but was sent off in the final minutes after being shown a second yellow card for dissent.
November 2007: Joined Ajax from Uruguayan side Nacional but he was later suspended by the Dutch giants after a half-time dressing-room altercation with team-mate Albert Luque.
July 2010: During the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals, Suarez prevented Ghana’s Dominic Adiyiah from scoring in the final minute with a deliberate handball on the line and was subsequently sent off. A penalty was awarded but missed by Asamoah Gyan and footage showed Suarez celebrating on the sidelines. Uruguay eventually went through to the last four on penalties.
November 2010: Suarez was handed a seven-match ban by the Dutch FA and fined by his club for biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal during an Eredivisie match.
October 2011: Following his move to Liverpool in January 2011, he was involved in a tackle with Everton’s Jack Rodwell and goes down with apparent minimal contact. Rodwell was then sent off.
October 2011: Suarez was alleged to have racially abused Manchester United’s Patrice Evra during a Premier League match. Suarez was later found guilty by an independent regulatory commission and banned for eight matches and fined £40,000.
December 2011: Was seen making an offensive gesture towards Fulham fans. At this time he had already been charged by the Football Association over the racism incident, although not yet punished, but was handed a further one-match ban for the gesture.
February 2012: United and Liverpool met again at Old Trafford, but more controversy blew up as Suarez refused to shake Evra’s hand before kick-off.
October 2012: Celebrated a goal against Everton by diving in front of Toffees boss David Moyes who had earlier claimed that “divers” such as Suarez were putting fans off the English game.
January 2013: Handles the ball prior to scoring Liverpool’s winner in the FA Cup third-round tie at Mansfield.