Mes que un club. That’s the Barcelona motto. Visit the Camp Nou and you will see it everywhere - written out on the stadium seats in giant lettering, emblazoned around the side of the pitch, scrawled at almost every other turn. It’s hard to miss.
More than a club
Barcelona are keen to mark themselves above all others when it comes to honour and tradition - placed upon a pedestal none of their rivals can reach. And they are more than a club in a number of ways, of that there is no question.
They are the pride and lifeblood of a region, or a nation as the Catalans would have it. They also have a global appeal and profile like few of their most immediate rivals, and attract hysteria almost everywhere they go.
So having already dragged their reputation through the dirt with the acquisition of Luis Suarez this summer, Barcelona should be mindful not to further damage their standing following the latest outcome of this tedious story.
Suarez’s four month ban for his inexplicable bite on Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup has been upheld on appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but he is no longer suspended from “football-related activity” as per the original FIFA sanction.
This means that Suarez will now be able to train with his new colleagues following his transfer from Liverpool but, even more notably, will be available to play for Barcelona in unofficial, i.e friendly, matches.
Suarez will now have the opportunity to make his Barcelona debut before the season begins, with a final pre-season encounter scheduled for Monday against Leon FC at the Camp Nou in the Joel Gamper trophy.
It will make a mockery of the initial ruling if Suarez is able to get a grand unveiling in front of the Barcelona supporters - something the former Liverpool talisman was not afforded following the completion of his £75 million transfer from Anfield.
There should have been no cause for celebration following Suarez’s arrival in Barcelona, and the club were somewhat fortunate the player was unable to be presented to supporters.
Barcelona would have faced accusations of putting on a crass public display for a man with more convictions than most in the local penitentiary centre. They dodged a bullet, to pardon the expression.
Monday now represents a chance for Suarez to be greeted by much fanfare, even if Luis Enrique does not decide to play him, but logic should tell the Barcelona hierarchy that this is a person undeserving of such an arrival.
Watch: Luis Suarez joins Barcelona
Are Barcelona better than this?
Suarez’s misdemeanours, numerous as they are, have been repeated to death - so there is no need to detail them here. We all know what he has done, and are aware of the severity of these actions.
Barcelona are too, of course. They should have more awareness than to cart Suarez out onto the Camp Nou pitch with their regular pomp and ceremony when normally heralding a new signing. But will they?
In the past it would have been assumed they are better than all of this - a club with a greater public consciousness. But this whole Suarez saga would appear to prove otherwise. More than a club? Not right now, and there is much to be done to rebuild their reputation.