Barcelona striker Luis Suarez says if his behaviour at the World Cup was enough to rule him out of contention for this year’s Ballon d’Or, then others who had a poor tournament – like Cristiano Ronaldo – should also be penalised in the voting.
International Soccer reports that Suarez was an early front-runner for the award as his form for Liverpool ensured he shared the 2013-14 Golden Shoe award as Europe’s top goal scorer last season alongside Ronaldo. However, his biting of Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini while playing for Uruguay at the World Cup put paid to his chances.
Ronaldo is now the clear favourite to retain the prestigious individual award, due to his contribution to Real Madrid’s “Decima” Champions League win last season, and his outstanding goal-scoring record of 58 goals in 56 games so far in the current campaign. The Portugal captain had a disappointing tournament in Brazil, however, with injury hampering his performances as his country exited early from a group containing Ghana, Germany and the United States.
Suarez said in an interview with Mundo Deportivo that he now accepted his World Cup behaviour had hurt his Ballon d’Or chances, but other players’ displays in Brazil should also be taken into account.
“If you go from January to December, you must put in the World Cup and I believe my attitude at the World Cup was not good, and it is possible it is because of that,” Suarez said.
“But if you are going to look at what happened at World Cup you should include all the players, not just me. There were some who won it and some who were knocked out in the first round. We should be clear in these things. But well, it has happened, I was not on the [23-man] shortlist, but I did not really expect to be.”
Suarez said his new Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi should now be favourite for the award, although insisted that Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer would also be a deserving winner.
“For me it is clear: as a team-mate I would be delighted for Messi to win, and he is the favourite,” he said. “I do not know who will win. Neuer is deserving as World Cup winner, he has shown he is a great keeper. The same with Cristiano, everyone knows what he has done and is doing day to day, and he could have a chance.
“But for me there is no doubt. For the year Leo has had, for the injuries he had and the time he was out, and to still to score those goals, for what he did with Argentina, and for what he is doing, I believe he has done enough to deserve to win.”
Asked if he was continuing to receive counselling to ensure similar incidents did not occur again, Suarez did not respond directly, but admitted to being aware of being under the spotlight when he was on the pitch.
“I am continuing to work on things I still need to control a bit,” he said. “You are aware of the magnitude of what I did, and also what can happen today with so many eyes watching you, twice or three times more than before. You must be more intelligent and not do things so you are not criticised.”
The 27-year-old denied that such attempts to control his temper were the reason for a disappointing goal-scoring start to this Barca career — he has managed just one in his first eight games.