Branislav Ivanovic showed true class during biting affair

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To say that English football has had its fair share of off-field drama of late would be an understatement. 

In the midst of the sexual indiscretions of John Terry, Ryan Giggs, and countless other of the nation’s favourite stars, the race rows involving John Terry, Luis Suarez and most recently, comedian Reginald Hunter, the most memorable saga of the 2012/2013 season must be the uproar in response to Liverpool’s Luis Suarez biting a member of the opposition, Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. 

While it is normal for the antagonist in these situations to garner the most publicity, it is clear to this writer that with so much negativity present within British football in recent times, the gaze should turn to one of the protagonists.

With Chelsea and Liverpool spending more time than any other clubs on the front pages, rather than the back pages, it is ironic that the latest debates over footballers discretion should emanate from a tie between the two sides. 

This debate, of course, surrounds the decision by made by Luis Suarez to bite the Serbian centre-back in the closing stages of the match at Anfield. The Uruguayan remained on the field of play, and much to the dismay of Chelsea fans, scored an injury time equaliser, robbing the Blues of a vital away win in their pursuit of Champions League football in the coming season.

In an age that sees players falling to the floor at the first sign of contact, initiating on-field brawls before falling to the floor without the slightest contact, Ivanovic, the victim of the voracious striker, took the bite in a hugely respectable manner. 

Remonstrations were made to the referee in the immediate aftermath, simply showing the referee the teeth marks left by Suarez, but this was the limit of Ivanovic’s complaint, and from that point onwards his conduct regarding the incident has been exemplary.

The fallout from this incident has, like many other of footballs dramas, been blown well out of proportion, with everyone from Paolo Di Canio to David Cameron weighing in with their views on the incident. 

The one man with reason to air his voice, Ivanovic, has remained dignifiedly silent on the affair, simply informing the press when questioned that he had spoken to Suarez on the phone before telling The Guardian: “I accepted the apology, the police did not press charges.” 

The Serb’s silence on the matter, and his decision to turn down the offer of Surrey Police to investigate the matter has helped not only the FA’s disciplinary proceedings, so compromised by the involvement of the British legal system, but also Suarez, who would have been wishing that this saga would pass by as easily as he has passed by Premier League defences this season, not that Ivanovic’s silence has starved the British press of quotes on the incident.

Admittedly the furore around the bite reached fever pitch last week, and it is indicative of British football’s soap opera status at the moment, that the biting incident is no longer even the most recent affliction facing the beautiful game in this country. 

I see it fitting then, in the case of Ivanovic, to let the dust settle, before praising the forgotten man of football’s most recent saga.

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Branislav Ivanovic
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