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Bertha HarianBertha Harian

News Reports

A first bite on the third bite

I am writing this based on Neil Humphrey’s column in TNP which is blurbed on Page 1 as Third Bite is the Deepest which I assume is a twist on the song, First Cut is the Deepest.

The background: I said on my FB wall that sports writers should take the opportunity of gaining as many fans as possible when big games are played, by not merely speaking to the converted. So someone asked me to try and do it myself. Okay. Please bear in mind that I don’t watch soccer, not even this World Cup, and only knew of Suarez’ existence a few days ago and that he plays for Liverpool and Uruguay. But because I am interested in big games, I read the sports news and I depend on TNP to direct me because I gather it’s got the best sports coverage around town.

Anyway, TNP’s inside page headline is Suarez shamed World Cup (all in caps) with Strap: Uruguayan’s brutish behaviour threatens to leave a bad aftertaste

Here’s the story (and my copy-editing comments. My apologies to TNP):

Luiz Suarez has shamed the tournament. (Okay, I know he’s Uruguayan because it’s in the strap) That’s the unforgivable sin that stings the most. (Not sure if an unforgiveable sin stings; more likely to condemn person to hell. But never mind) His temperament has long gnawed (is this suppose to prepare me for BITE?) away at this talent (this talent as in the talent is Suarez or some other trait like his footballing skills?); like a psychological cross (now it’s back to biblical allusions) he must bear in return for his priceless gifts.

But that’s his problem. (His problem as in HIS problem and not ours?) He pays a personal price each time he exorcises his demons (biblical allusion) and his latest indiscretion (but I thought it was an unforgivable sin?) is likely to be the costliest yet (for him I presume).

The third bite goes deeper because it has infected one of the purest World Cups in recent memory. (So now we are back to bite and there is a first and second bite. This bite is like the Aedes mosquito because it can infect. What’s a “pure’’ World Cup anyway? Never mind..)

Argentina’s infighting marred an already poor Italia 90; Diego Maradona’s positive drug test struggled to sour the average fare of 1994 and Zinedine Zidane’s head-butt was arguably the only memorable highlight of a negative tournament in 2006. (I presume that these are references to past World Cups? In 1990, Italy. Diego I believe Argentinian but played WHERE in 1994 and who is Zinedine and where was World Cup in 2006?? No consistency in backgrounding)

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But Suarez has left an indelible stain on the most flawless of sporting spectacles. Vibrancy has reigned in Brazil. The cities have exploded in color as the pre-tournament concerns gave way to a collective, almost subconscious desire to get this one right. (Plenty of words but I suppose the gist is that past World Cups have been lousy for some reason or other and this years looks to be real crackling…under Suarez’s third bite – on who leh???)

Fifa’s corporate shenanigans have failed to filter down to the pitch. (I don’t know what they are but never mind – it’s still within theme of keeping the Cup “pure’’)  Brazil’s questionable infrastructure and incomplete stadia (!) have compromised neither the atmosphere nor the artistry.

Positivity reigned. Dutch courage (is false courage no?) was matched by those Teutonic terrors (Germans – attempt at alliteration?), which in turn was equalled by the swashbuckling (piratical? or more samba and sashaying?) South Americans and the committed Costa Ricans (I guess need a C and courage already used….)  

Well, the column goes very much in the same vein without saying anything about the third bite except that the red marks on Giorgio Chiellini’s should go much deeper….(I guess that’s the Italian…we not even told who Uruguay was playing against…) Then more hyperbole on Suarez’ “repugnant act’’, “puerile contemptible act’’, “violation’’, “animalistic”, “penetrating the World Cup’s beauty’’ – we talking rape here? “unsightly scar’’, and a “two-faced tournament’’.

Many, many more words and I still have to guess at what happened. How he tried to “gain an inch on Chiellini” but “took a chunk’’. Three pars from the bottom I suddenly know that he has previous misdemeanours (not sins?) against a Chelsea player and a PSV Eindhoven player. He is described as a “unreformed recidivist’’ “recalcitrant offender’’ (isn’t recalcitrant enough?)  and a “reluctant apologist’’ (U mean apologiser? I think apologist means something different).

Then the final line is about Time being a great healer and football can overcome…  

Okay, I am sure some people would say this is nit-picking. Maybe. Old editing habits die hard. Some people will also say that sports has a language of its own and that columns should be written for sports fans, who already know what’s happening. I agree to a certain extent. But I think it’s wrong for a columnist not to hew to some journalistic basics such as backgrounding and to assume too much of readers. Plus, any columnist would want to gain more fans, rather than be content with a static following. I believe that any report can be made simple enough, even technology, without the need to dumb it right down. 

So here’s my version based roughly on the style above.

Luiz Suarez, the Uruguayan who went from wheelchair-bound to World Cup hero, has just committed an unforgiveable sin. He stained Brazil 2014. Stained it indelibly. He launched his teeth into Italian Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder, and in turn left a mark on what had promised to be a memorably pure World Cup tournament.

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Pure, because it was devoid of team infighting (the Argentinians in Italy in 1990, of failed dope tests (Diego Maradona in ? in 1994) and ugly headbutts (Zinedine Zidane in ? in 2006). Even Fifa’s current corporate shenanigans such as ?, didn’t mar the Beautiful Game played out all over Brazil; not even the much publicised shoddy infrastructure with seat-less stadiums.

Then came Suarez’ bite, how long? into this tournament. This bite cuts the deepest because the world has so far been treated to football like it has never been played before, not in World Cup memory. The Dutch danced; the Germans gyrated, the South Americans sashayed and tiny Costa Rica could teach Singapore a thing or two about making it on a world sports stage despite a small population.      

A constellation of stars sparkled. Like (which country) Neymar and his what? , German Thomas Meuller’s X-goal haul? And Argentinian? Lionel Messi’s what? Even the great Cristiano Ronaldo shone despite his Portuguese team-mates lacklustre showing?.

Then came Suarez’ bite, the third in his footballing career. Background on past two bites. His teething problem has earned him bans from matches and it looks like this time, he’s bitten off more than he could chew. Chelliani and who else ??are asking for his head; or rather for him to hang up his football boots.      

The Uruguayan fans do not deserve to have this contemptible, repugnant act played out in front of them in Sao Paolo?. Though numbering just 3.4million, the exuberance they have displayed as Uruguay trounced the English and which other team? warmed the soul/lifted hearts/stirred dreams etc….

Nor does Oscar Tabarez, the team’s coach, a dignified, patient gentleman who now has to defend the antics of one of his la Celeste.

Nor does this wonderful tournament.

Now, you can bite me….

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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