'In any other job, Suarez would have been sacked...'

GORDON STRACHAN has more reason than most to join the demonising of Luis Suarez and his fellow-Uruguayans in the wake of his World Cup bite shame.

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It was Friday the 13th, 1986, in Neza Stadium on the rundown outskirts of Mexico City.

Scotland needed a win to reach the World Cup knockout stages for the first time; opponents Uruguay needed only a draw.

There were just 39 seconds played when Jose Batista tried to half Manchester United midfielder Strachan from behind.

Batista earned what still stands as the fastest-ever World Cup finals red card.

It set the tone for a bitter 90 minutes, marked by cynicism, hacking and spitting from the South Americans as they parked the double-decker for a 0-0 draw.

Scotland boss Strachan, on media duty in Brazil, last week said of that day: "In Neza there were a million people living in poverty, kids running about with nothing on.

"I understood why there are players from that sort of background who will do anything to win."

Strachan didn't know Suarez was again about to prove his point, sent home in disgrace for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay's 1-0 defeat.

Noting his previous convictions - and his pitiful, "I fell into Chiellini," defence - Fifa ruled it was three bites and you're out.

His punishment was the longest ban imposed at a World Cup - a four-month exile from all football, nine-game international ban and a £66,000 fine.

Was it excessive?

Only if you support Uruguay or Liverpool. The response has been dominated not by arguments over fair play but by partisan opinion.

In any other occupation, Suarez would have been sacked; in Sauchiehall Street he would have been slagged as a big jessie and lifted by the polis for assault.

In truth, the man needs help, and he's not been getting it from those closest to him.

Uruguay is in denial. Their president, no less, honoured Suarez with a hero's welcome home.

Can you see David Cameron or Alex Salmond laying out the red carpet for any such Scotland or England player (although the President bit would no doubt appeal to our FM)?

The media would crucify them and the player - primarily because, unlike Suarez and Uruguay, all his team-mates would have come home early as well.

The Uruguayan mentality has a darker side, like much of South America.

Remember Andres Escobar?

He was the Colombian defender murdered after the 1994 World Cup, reputedly because of his own goal in Colombia's shock 2-1 defeat to their USA hosts.

There will be contrasting moods in both countries, then, after Colombia's weekend defeat of Uruguay, who can blame no one but Suarez for their exit.

But Strachan again summed it up perfectly when he said no one in football (nor in the media, I have to confess) can claim the moral high ground from Suarez and Co.

He said: "We give Uruguay stick about defending Suarez but every manager defends his player.

"People talk about morals - we don't have any morals in football. Let's get that right.

"Over the years I played there have been wife-batterers, drink-driving incidents, infidelity, Eric Cantona jumping into the crowd and kung-fuing someone. The clubs stand by them.

"The supporters themselves, when these guys come back, they stand up and applaud them. So don't anybody start talking about morals - we don't have any in football.

"If these things had been done by youth players, with no importance to the first team, they'd get sacked.

"But because they bring in merchandise and money they back them to the hilt."

Spot on. The Scotland gaffer, a stand-out amid all the boring BBC and ITV "celebrities" in Brazil, has exposed the moral morass that is football today, and only the deluded will think it doesn't extend to his homeland.

Meanwhile we're being thrilled by the greatest show on earth, costing billions in a nation with rampant poverty, where the vast majority can't afford to watch ungracious performers who earn millions.

Who organised this carnival, and stood judgment on Suarez?

That would be Fifa, supposed guardians of football's integrity but in reality a Zurich nest of institutional corruption.

And which high-minded sponsors won't now touch Suarez with a bargepole? Online gamblers, famed for giving nothing for something, are "terminating their relationship"; kit giants Adidas, embroiled in child labour scandals for years, have scrapped a £1m contract.

Even Liverpool's shirt sponsors fear their image may be tarnished. What a joke.

They're bankers, for God's sake.

Yesterday, Suarez suddenly apologised to Chiellini "and the entire football family" — and what a dysfunctional family it is! — and promised never to bite again.

Am I just a cynical old hack, or is he grovelling only to smooth his transfer to Barcelona? Morals? Football deserves Suarez.

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