Should ESPN Commentator Jon Champion Be Censured For Calling Luis Suarez ‘Cheat’ On Air?

Chris Wright

7th, January 2013


By Chris Wright

ESPN have moved to issue an official apology (as posted directly in the comments of this Pies’ article) after commentator Jon Champion referred to Luis Suarez’s hand-assisted winning goal against Mansfield in the FA Cup this weekend as being “the work of a cheat.”

The comment in full (the last paragraph of which has been issued as a formal statement):

Dear Who Ate All The Pies,

Tristan O’Carroll here from ESPN’s press office. I wanted to share with you a statement (attributed to an ESPN spokesman and not to me) around our lead commentator Jon Champion’s comments yesterday in case you have or will be running something about it. Would appreciate if you would fold into any posts.

“We take our responsibility to deliver the highest standards of coverage to our viewers. ESPN’s editorial policy is for commentators to be unbiased and honest, to call things as they see them. Inevitably this can involve treading a fine line on occasion, especially in the heat of the moment. Comments during the Mansfield v Liverpool match caused offence where none was intended and we have spoken to our commentator about this incident.”

Thank for your time.

Now, the wording of Champion’s comment may have been a little rich for some tastes, but was he not there to provide his opinion? We constantly decry commentators for not calling it as they see it, and now it’s perfectly apparent why fence-sitting is so commonplace – the omnipresent fear of being censured.

Many are citing bias and a lack of impartiality as being the problem, as it’s not the commentators’ place to be pontificating but how impartial is it proper to be in such circumstances? Doesn’t Champion have a journalistic duty to say things as he sees them, or is the first rule of his trade now “don’t say anything that folk may overly disagree with”?

Football and all coverage thereof will fast becoming utterly sterile – even more so than it currently is – if the indignation of the few is given such sway.

Despite your gut reaction, Champion wasn’t questioning Suarez’s conduct because he’s a Liverpool player, he was questioning his conduct because he effectively stuck the winner in with his hand and then celebrated by kissing said appendage in front of the Mansfield fans. Whisper it, but he did kind of cheat a little bit, no?

Champion did nothing wrong as far as we’re concerned – he’s perfectly entitled to call the shots as he sees fit – but ESPN appear to have allowed the inevitable frothing outrage to sculpt their reaction. Football is a circus and the clowns are the ones cracking the whip.

What sayeth thou Pies fans?

Posted in FA Cup, Featured, Liverpool, Media, Opinion

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  1. C says:

    He did nothing wrong, ESPN is just saving face with that statement.

  2. Ray says:

    What sort of a so called football website doesn’t know that Suarez kisses his wrist after every goal he scores he’s done it 19 times so far this season. He does this because he has a tattoo of his daughters name on his wrist get a life and stop shit stirring muppets.

    • Chris says:

      @Ray: I knew someone would bring this up. Yes, Suarez always kisses his wrist, but he made a point of holding it aloft and making eye contact with the Mansfield fans while he kissed it at the weekend. Subtle, so you may have missed it while you were mobbing the dribble from your chin.

  3. robercar25 says:

    Buenas.. Luis siempre festeja haciendo la del pistolero y besando las muñecas en honor a su hija y esposa. que ganas de tirar mierda con el muchacho. esto roza la discriminacion

  4. Mike says:

    He always kisses his wrist when he scores. Stop making an issue out of nothing. He looked at the fans quickly when he kissed it? Get over it, I’m sure it wasn’t an intentional thing. Nit Picking.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Douche response

  6. Mr. Chopper says:

    I think the larger problem is that Suarez is always branded a cheat, regardless of whatever hijinx he’s currently getting up to on the pitch. Cries of “Cheat! Cheat! Cheat!” and “You know what you are!” follow him around like a shitty stench.

    I think the fact Champion decided to follow this rhetoric and say (I’m paraphrasing here, cos I can’t find the footage from last night) “That is the work of a cheat” is what is getting people’s collective knickers in a froth. Compare to how Clarke Carlisle handled the same bit of commentary and Champion just comes over a little judgemental.

  7. Glenn says:

    Yes, Champion expressed an opinion in the heat of the moment, but he was sat in a gantry with a microphone in front of him. As soon as that opinion left his lips it was broadcast nationwide. Your article published yesterday about his comment being over the top was afforded the luxury of the author having time to consider what he was writing. Once an apology was issued on behalf of his network you’ve decided that he was entitled to express said opinion. Are you now not just sitting on the fence yourselves by publishing what you think is the common consensus? None of the facts have changed, just a spokesperson delivering a statement under pressure from Internet trolls such as yourselves. You call for people with a voice in the sport to speak their mind whilst displaying extreme fickleness. Bias and fence sitting may not be desirable, but neither is hypocrisy.
    @Ray, yes he has celebrated in that manner with every goal he’s scored this season, but under the circumstances I’m sure he could have found another way to congratulate himself being a man with many a trick up his sleeve.
    @Chris, I find it hard to believe he made eye contact with all 3 stands of Mansfield fans.

  8. Nuno says:

    I believe ESPN is trying to save face a bit with that comment, but I think he shouldn’t have said that. Saying he cheated on that goal would be acceptable, I think (although the biggest error is on the ref), but saying someone is “a cheater” live is to pass judgement on someone’s character, and that shouldn’t be a commentator’s job. Personal opinions belong to programs like “Match of the day” and such, not during the games.
    And sorry Chris but the “kissing his wrist in front of the fans” is more of the “Another Silly Media Storm” Alan referred to in the other post than an actual provocation. He does that every game. End of story.

  9. Luke says:

    @Chris: Far from wanting to criticize this lovely website, and if we’re getting into specifics; would Suarez not have to lift his wrist up to kiss it naturally? And eye contact with your wrist while you kiss it would be very hard, rather you would look past it to whatever was in front of you – the fans if you’re in the goal. I think everyone’s looking for something where there is nothing

  10. logic says:

    you’d think they’d make a big deal about the fact that suarez actually did cheat then what ever the commentator said. i mean what was is he supposed to say? he cheated, you can’t really fabricate that. and if youre cheating, and youre offended because someone calls you a cheat you may wanna rethink your morals and values in life.

  11. Biff says:

    A person’s past actions weigh heavily on the perceptions of current actions. That goes for anyone and everyone.

    Suarez’s past follows him around like a shitty stench because a lot of his past actions have been pretty shitty. I cannot tell you if he was unable to pull his hand away in time, but I can tell you that Suarez’s past actions Uruguay vs. Ghana immediately sprang to my mind as the ball bounced across Mansfield’s goal line. My guess is that it sprang into Champion’s, and many others, too.

  12. Milkchew says:

    Real classy Chris (I assume you are the admin), insult your readers, real classy.

    He always kisses his wrist, he always holds his WRIST aloft and he always looks towards the supporters…but yes he cheated.

  13. qwerty says:

    i’m sure the mansield fans said/done some much nastier things than lifting their arm to a bunch of idiots, get some perspective bossman you sound like a bellend

  14. Jood says:

    In 2010, English media decided Suarez was a villain. Few people ever heard of Suarez, except as a transfer target for a bunch of clubs. Now again, he’s already a villain so the media just looks at things and drags them far out of context to prove how vile he is. He kissed his wrist? He always does that, has done that for a while now. But now he’s a villain once more because he apparently made eye-contact with Mansfield fans? Come on.

  15. Joseph Bwire says:

    Jon Champion ! you should know better, what did you expect? you brand a liverpoolfc player a cheat and expect nothing, i mean in all your experience you have learned nothing. God help you. You are on international television, you have over three billion viewers what do you expect. Calling suarez a cheat is like calling liverpool cheats. after all the ref is the one to blame. all suarez could do was to hold his lack and he is payed to do that, help his team win at all costs.

  16. Applesauce says:

    So, what’s the controversy here?

    Is someone actually arguing that Suarez hasn’t cheated countless times in his career? I sure hope not.

  17. TravisKOP says:


    in all seriousness though I think @Mr. Chopper makes a very valid point here

  18. Mike says:

    Champion will only prove his comments to be correct IF and WHEN he states the same about any other player who does something similar. If not, then he’s a hypocrite who should be sacked.

    Remember some other memorable handballs?
    Vidic against Arsenal
    Henry against Ireland
    Crouch against Man City
    Maradona against England

    What would Champion say about those players?

    And to clarify, the Mansfield manager said Suarez did nothing wrong, and former refs say they would have given it.

    End of story!

  19. foran44 says:

    This is the most pointless load of waffle I’ve ever read on WWATP. Of course Champion is entitled to his opinion but I defy anyone to say that he would have said the same thing if it was a British player (maybe a Gareth Bale dive or something) in the same position. He would never have been so unfair. And come on, if you were in the same position you’d hardly hoof the ball over the crossbar!

    Get over yourselves….that’s not cheating it’s playing to the whistle.

  20. Kastrol says:

    I don’t understand why this is such a big deal. He didn’t mean to score with his hand. But he did. And he celebrated doing so. If you can’t call him a cheat, then you must call him dishonest and unsporting.

    One off instances are one thing, like the examples @Mike mentioned, but Suarez can’t seem to go 10 games without bringing the game into disrepute. What kind of example does this set to kids? That you can cheat all you want if no one catches you?

    At the end of the day, for those who feel attitudes towards him are prejudice and unfair – no smoke without fire. And this boy keeps lighting more and more fires.

    Regardless of his talent, I’d never want him at my club!

  21. Wynton says:

    “But he always kisses his wrist blahblahblah…” Once a cheat, always a cheat. It’s in his bloody genes.

  22. Jake says:

    Suarez puts the ball in the net, other than that he is a scumbag. The only people defending him are wearing Liverpool shirts.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Considering it was not called because it was ball to hand (see BR’s comments regarding a discussion with the 4th official), and that Suarez himself seemed to believe that the goal would not stand (slamming the ball into the net) and gave a very reserved, almost sheepish celebration – yes, Jon Champion should be censured. Very unprofessional.

  24. Gazz says:

    I hate it when pundits, players and managers don’t say what they want because they will get in trouble and so have to give generic rubbish comments.

    I’m sure he could have called him far worse things than a cheat!

  25. trossek says:

    Where was all this “cheat” hype when Crouch used his hands to bounce the ball NBA style and score against Citeh?

  26. Richard says:

    Maybe if Jon Champion said this on Twitter he could be fined 10,000,000 pounds.

  27. usrick says:

    I don’t agree with what Champion said, but his job is to make comments (hence the title “commentator.” Get over it already.

  28. stussy says:

    He is a cheat….

  29. U know what you are says:

    he is a cheat, he did it in the World Cup (saved a goal with his hand), he did it at Mansfield, he’ll keep doing it as long as he keeps getting away with it. Retrospective action needs to be taken. Football is stuck in the dark ages.

  30. Richard says:

    Should get Jim Ross of WWF wrestling fame to replace him. “Good god almighty! He slammed dunked the ball into the back of the net! Good god! That.. that.. jezebelle!”

  31. Red mist says:

    Suarez is a Cheategrito… Champion used the wrong variant….

  32. Jarren says:

    It was a heat-of-the-moment, off the cuff remark by Champion.

    He simply said what most people know, and what we were all thinking at that exact time.

    He should not have said it, and I don’t applaud him for it, but it was totally understandable.

    Apologise, Jon. Apologise and draw the line under this now.

  33. syndex says:

    Lets stop pussyfooting around Suarez is a cheat watch any game he is playing he dives, he whines to the ref every moment he can and this time Champion called him on it, he broke the commentators code he lost his temper. As for the hand kissing he was looking directly at the crowd with the ‘hmm aren’t I cheeky’ that is the problem, he isn’t just a cheating scumbag he likes it and sees nothing wrong with it.

  34. Christos says:

    Suarez knew it had come off his hand and he celebrated. That’s enough to make most people baulk. A premier league star absolutely loving getting one over his non-league opponents.

  35. Al says:

    @ Christos – Turn it fuckin in, getting one over non-league? he’s a highly paid professional who gets paid to score goals and win regardless of the opposition, he scored a goal and won, job done.
    The oficials are highly paid to get decisions right, they didn’t

  36. Al says:

    @Syndex – behave, why would he see anything wrong with it? It’s a multi billion pound industry whether you like it or not and as a result it’s win at all costs, 99% of footballers in that position would do the same and be happy as they scored. The reason isolated incidents like Di Canio and Robbie Fowler get so much coverage is just that, they are isolated, now get back up on your pedestal

  37. syndex says:

    @al Say he’s a highly paid professional as much as you want and 99% of the footballers would do it, maybe but he is consistent every chance he has to cheat he takes it. Every season I am less enchanted by the game because its a game of skill any more, its a game of money and guile (read cheating without getting caught). How many of the 99% of players in front of non-league opposition who most will never to these heights would take the opportunity to mock them, he isn’t the only of his kind just the worst.

  38. Vasko says:

    Shut up all ready! This is exactely what happens every time any little event occurs in football. The referees made a bad mistake, but the game is over, there’s nothing that can be done about it, move on and quit going into such detail about this.

  39. Anonymous says:

    If liverpool are on espn I will turn the sound off and put other commentary on . Iwould just like to know how many games where there has been a hand ball and hes been the commenter and if he has called all the players cheats

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