What would you do if an employee bit one of your competitors?
I know this doesn’t happen often, and in most cases the answer is to show that employee the door, quickly. What if that employee was one of most talented in your industry? Should that make a difference? What if that employee also demonstrated public indicators of emotional or mental instability?
The Liverpool FC v Chelsea FC game yesterday was supposed to be a stage for a returning and much loved ex-manager and a platform to show support for a recently departed campaigner for justice following the Hillsborough disaster, but midway through the second half the next day’s headlines were decided beyond all doubt.
Why Luis Suarez sank his teeth into Branislav Ivanovic is a mystery. No real warning signs of prior animosity during the game leading to an innocuous tussle, then a bolt from the blue vampire-like thrust toward the Chelsea defender. Nobody saw it coming, but then again you wouldn’t, and the referee didn’t either.
So, what happens next? What is best for the business, and specifically the brand of, Liverpool Football Club, and what is best for Luis Suarez as an individual and employee? How should this responsibility be shared between the player and his employer?
If Liverpool decide to stand by Luis Suarez, and I’m guessing that they will, at least for now, especially as the Club have already announced a fine and internal action, rather than dismissal (I wish all HR issues were resolved in less than 24 hours!), could this genuinely be interpreted as the ‘right thing to do’ for the person, who certainly needs help, or will it be condemned as a purely cynical commercial decision? As a fan of the LFC, I’d like to think they looked after all key stakeholders whether they are fans, employees or wider community groups.
The Professional Footballers Association have offered anger management support and I’d be fascinated to know what , if any, support Luis Suarez has had so far, especially after such previous high-profile problems. I’ll hazard a guess at next to none, with those around him too scared to taint his sporting ability. Is football guilty of exploiting such talents purely for its own gain and treating players as disposable items whenever the heat becomes too challenging?
Knowing how football operates I honestly believe the close family type culture within the playing side of the club will genuinely want to support a colleague with personal issues, regardless of playing ability. Suarez is not without prior history and I have to admit to immediate disgust in his actions whilst watching the game on television, with millions of others all around the world.
I hope that Suarez gets the support he needs and his career can be averted away from other well catalogued gifted players with non footballing challenges like Paul Gascoigne, George Best , Joey Barton or more closely, Eric Cantona.
From what little I know, Suarez appears a warm family man away from the pitch yet a complete Jeckyll and Hyde on it, for whatever reasons. After all, Suarez has his own responsibility in all of this, not just LFC, the PFA or the FA. What would he want his children to think of his actions and how eager is he to seek his own help? I wonder how Alex Ferguson at Manchester United would manage him?
I know there are more questions than answers here, but such a bright talent can inspire a generation of youngsters and should be supported as much as possible, but only up to a point. How much support has already been given to Suarez and have LFC done all that they should?
At the very least Liverpool FC appear to be managing the media side of this incident much better than in recent times and their approach should be applauded. I’m just hoping the club can escape the footballing industry mire and embrace transparency and find the best solution for the player, the club and the sport, whatever that may be.
Over on Liverpool fansite ‘This Is Anfield’ check out a good early read from a fans perspective arguing a moral case for keeping the player.
So, is it the right thing to do to sack Luis Suarez or is CSR in football just about teaching school children soccer tricks?