Luis Suarez.

The humbling of Tony O'Reilly, once Ireland's richest man, made headlines here last week and we will be returning to that topic here next week. 

But the big topic of conversation here last week -- like most places around the world -- was the Luis Suarez bite at the World Cup.  Judged by the reaction in my local bar opinion here has been divided, although I should point out that the pub in question has a high number of Liverpool supporters.

Before we start on Suarez, I should point out that many moons ago your humble correspondent was the manager of the under-9 team in my local soccer club.   

I became manager simply because the previous incumbent of the top job became too busy at work to carry on.  I was chosen for one very simple reason -- I had 8-year-old twin boys on the team (which allowed the other soccer dads to look at me and say, well, there's two reasons why you should be the next manager...)   

I am proud to say that the appointment was a triumph. My team went on to win their section of the North Dublin under-9 League that season.  

So the following assessment of the Luis Suarez issue obviously carries considerable weight.  (Our under-9s have not won their league since my departure.  Just saying, that's all!)   

My twins are now adults and have moved on to other sports -- one of them plays hockey for Ireland -- but we still follow the Premier League and we have been glued to the World Cup.  We're talking three matches a day here.  

The Suarez biting incident was greeted in our house with astonishment, bewilderment and, later on, even a little sympathy as the catastrophic consequences of what he had done loomed large.  We now know those consequences -- a lengthy ban, which will have a still unknown effect on the player, his country Uruguay and his club Liverpool.     

A global outpouring of disgusted condemnation has rained down on him, to such an extent that in our opinion it has become comical.  At least as comical as Suarez biting the Italian player, Chiellini.  Even Chiellini, who is no angel himself, has said the reaction has been over the top.  

The most hysterical outrage has come from people who know very little about football and only follow it when something like the World Cup is on.  A little knowledge in this case is indeed a dangerous thing.  

Even worse are the psychologists who are popping up in the media with their two cents worth of analysis that says more about their nice middle class backgrounds than it does about the formative experiences of a poor kid like Suarez kicking a ball around on the streets of Montevideo in his bare feet and doing what was necessary to make it.   

The former great Irish player and now TV soccer pundit Johnny Giles mildly shocked the country here a couple of weeks back when he said on RTE that the reason England had not survived in the World Cup was that the players "were not prepared to kill their granny."   

To succeed at this level, Giles explained, you have to be so determined, so focused and so ferocious that you would kill your granny to win a tackle or score a goal.  He was speaking metaphorically, of course, but we all knew what he meant.    

That drive and that ruthlessness is not something that many European kids have these days, and certainly not Irish or English kids thanks to the welfare state that gives them the basics even in poorer, so-called tough areas.  

It's different in places in South America, in the favelas and elsewhere, where life really is tough and there's no safety net and you have to be both street wise and hardened to survive.  It's different in that world, and that is where Suarez is from.    

That is not to say that biting is common in football in such places.  But it's not unheard of among the street kids, along with quick hair pulling, eye gouging or anything else that gives a momentary advantage.  That's what Suarez was, a street footballer who learned how to fight for the ball, how to trick an opponent and how to win at any cost.   

In an interview just a few months ago he said: "I'm definitely still doing things I used to try on the streets.  I guess I'm still a 'botija', a street kid who relies on the cunning I learned on the streets. These days, I'm not thinking intuitively about these skills; they just come out of me as instinct."

It's in that context that the Suarez biting incident needs to be seen.  It's not part of the pampered world of FIFA executives and their luxury hotels and expenses -- and condemnation coming from them, given what we know about corruption in FIFA, sounds very hollow indeed.   

That context also explains the resentful, almost perplexed reaction of Suarez to the FIFA decision.  Yes, his expression tells us that he knows he should not have done it.  

But it also tells us that he does not see the biting incident as being as horrendous as everyone else is saying it is.  His immediate reaction was to say that things like that happen near the goal area and to point out that Cheillini had left him with a bruised face.  

And that leads on to another aspect in all this.  Just how bad is a bite?  

As far as we could see from the TV pictures Cheillini's skin was not punctured, even though we could see the indentations from Suarez's front teeth.  The bite marks probably vanished after 10 minutes, but by then the pictures had gone around the world and have been replayed endlessly. 

So is a quick bite like that as bad as an elbow in the face that breaks someone's nose or knocks a couple of teeth out?  Is it as bad as a crunching tackle that tears ligaments in someone's leg and puts them out of action for months? 

Is it as bad as deliberate vicious fouls like the one by Roy Keane on the Norwegian player Alf-Inge Haland which helped to end his career?  

Of course it isn't.  But for us nice middle class World Cup viewers there is something horrific about biting. 

It's culturally unacceptable to us.  It's something that makes us deeply uncomfortable.  Maybe it's sharks or vampires that come to mind.  But it's not logical.   

Clearly tackles that tear ligaments and break legs and elbows that bust noses and teeth are far worse.  Yet the reaction to the Suarez bite suggested that it was the worst thing that had ever happened in football.   

Despite all that has been said about Suarez in recent days, the fact remains that he is not a dirty or dangerous player. He may be a cheater who dives and a sneak who bites when he thinks he can get away with it, because those are the things that street kids do to win at any cost and that's what he learned.  

But, once again, he is not a dirty player.  

How many of those who condemned him last week realize that the last red card he got was as far back as the last World Cup in 2010 in a game against Ghana?  And that was not for a dangerous tackle, but for using his hands to stop a ball that was heading into the Uruguayan goal.   

When I was coaching my under-9s team 12 years ago, there were a number of  incidents that were a bit nasty when matches got heated.  But that was mainly the parents!  

I don't remember the kids doing any biting.  But then biting was not usually a part of the way the kids on my team fought, since none of them came from the streets. 

The general view among Liverpool fans here is that Suarez was stupid, once again, but that the whole thing has been blown completely out of proportion.  A bit like Cheillini's reaction was out of proportion when he felt the bite, dropping to the ground like he had been poleaxed and rolling around in agony as if his shoulder had been dislocated.   

My son was on the wrong end of a very heavy tackle in a hockey match nearly two years ago which tore his ankle ligaments, put him on crutches for weeks and threatened his chance of ever playing for Ireland again. Cortisone injections were followed by surgery, and it took him a year to recover and eventually to win back a place on the national squad. 

During that traumatic and depressing time he would have traded his injury for 50 Suarez bites on his shoulder.  A lot of people who are very worked up and vocal about Suarez need to calm down.