Interview conducted by Jordon Jarrett-Bryan for Channel 4 News in the wake of the Luis Suarez biting incident.
Steven Sylvester explains, “there’s three determining factors in what an elite athlete would do under intense pressure and they culminate in their background, the culture of the sport they’re in and in this case it’s football and then the context of the match situation.
If you look at Suarez background, his manager at Liverpool has suggested he’s come from quite a difficult survival background which means he might kick, bite, scream – do whatever it takes to get out of abject poverty. At a guess, there must be something extreme in his background that makes him ati in this way, so that’s the first thing. With regards to the whole context of the sport, the culture of ‘win at all costs’ puts a huge amount of stress on an athlete. They need to go bigger, bolder, longer, faster – its a ‘win at all costs’ mentality and when you live on that edge, where your emotions are all about winning and you’re not winning then the emotions start to build up and you start to feel a whole engagement of stress, particularly the psychological battle. Am I good enough? What will my country say? What will my team mates say? I’m the best player in the team!
If you look at the 3rd function, the context: It was the 79th minute and Suarez was having major issues with this match. Uruguay were about to go out, there was just over 10 minutes to go and they needed a goal. It was building up in Suarez head of what was happening and that led to the catastrophic event that we were alleged to have seen.”