The most ruthless soccer players often use their hands or elbows or knees to rough up opposing players. The most reckless or dirtiest might even use their cleats. Then there is Luis Suarez.
Suarez, the Uruguayan striker who has emerged as one of the best players in the world over the past year, is a biter. And, it seems, a serial one.
Luis Suarez, superstar striker for Uruguay and Liverpool FC, is one of the finest footballers on the face of the planet. He is also, as the world discovered Tuesday, a serial biter.
While the striker is known for his prowess in scoring hat tricks for Liverpool, he’s probably more famous for biting other players. This at least the third incident in his career where he’s been caught biting opponent during games, a new kind of hat trick.
The first known episode happened in 2010 when Suarez played for Ajax Amsterdam. (As a result, Suarez was suspended for seven games). The most recent incident took place just last year during Liverpool’s match against Chelsea. Suarez was banned for ten games.
Suarez is no stranger to World Cup controversy, either. In 2010, he was given a red card in the final moments of a quarterfinal match against Ghana, when he used his hands deny a shot at the goal line that would have won the game. Ghana missed the ensuing penalty kick, sending the match to a shootout, which Uruguay won.
For the third time in his career, Suarez is facing potential punishment for appearing to sink his teeth into an opponent. This time, it happened on the biggest soccer stage of all, the World Cup, during Uruguay’s 1-0 victory over Italy on Tuesday. Late in the second half, Suarez bumped into Giorgio Chiellini, an Italian defender, while jockeying for position in the penalty area and then dropped his head into Chiellini’s shoulder. Chiellini immediately recoiled as both fell to the ground.
Luis Suarez is facing a lengthy ban after the Liverpool striker bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder in Uruguay’s 1-0 World Cup victory on Monday.
Incredibly, the controversial striker attempted to explain the outrageous incident by saying: ‘These things happen in the box. We were in contact, chest against shoulder and I got a knock in the eye.’
Victim Chiellini declared: ‘Suarez is a sneak and he gets away with it because FIFA want their stars to play in the World Cup. I’d love to see if they have the courage to use video evidence against him. The referee saw the bite mark, too, but he did nothing about it.’
FIFA have indicated they will investigate today after Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez did not see the incident.
“It was absolutely clear. There’s even a mark,” Chiellini told Italian station Rai TV after the match. “He knew very well that he did something that he shouldn’t have done.”
Meanwhile, Uruguay’s manager Oscar Tabarez defended his striker by suggesting the press was making a meal of the incident: “Suarez, besides the mistakes he might have made, is the preferred target of certain media,” he said.
In an interview with The New York Times in May, conducted in part while he rocked his sleeping infant son, he said he wanted to be a better example for his two young children. He was different now, he said. The petulance was in the past.
Referring to his previous biting episodes, he said: “Obviously, it’s not the most attractive image that I can have for myself. But that’s not what I want to be remembered for. I want to do things right. I really, really do.”
The world governing body will no doubt look unkindly on Suarez, given his long history of disciplinary issues.
They have the power to ban any player for as long as two years if they see fit. It is more likely that Suarez will receive a much shorter retrospective ban that could still end his tournament after Monday’s victory saw Uruguay advance to the last 16 at Italy’s expense.
Uruguay defender Diego Lugano said: ‘I didn’t see anything. Did you see it here or did you see what happened in other years? You couldn’t have seen it here because nothing happened. The worst of everything is the attitude of Chiellini. He’s a great player with an enormous status but this doesn’t correspond with Italian football. As sportsmen leaving the field, crying and appealing against a rival, it’s not good. As a man he disappointed me totally.’
The longest ban in World Cup history was eight games for Italy’s Mauro Tassotti after he broke the nose of Spain’s Luis Enrique in 1994.
“Oh, dear, dear, dear.” Stewart Robson, ESPN’s color commentator, said as a closeup replay was shown. “Let’s have another look. It looks to me, dare I say it, as if he’s had a little bite at Chiellini.”
“Surely, not again,” Robson’s colleague Jon Champion said, clearly dismayed. “Surely, not again.”
Fifa has opened disciplinary proceedings against Uruguay forward Luis Suarez after Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini accused him of biting during the South Americans’ 1-0 group D victory at the World Cup on Tuesday. The probe means Suarez, twice previously banned for biting, may be hit with another lengthy suspension despite escaping punishment during the match.
“Fifa can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the player Luis Suarez of Uruguay,” the world soccer body said.
Fifa said Suarez and the Uruguayan soccer association had until 5pm Brasilia time on Wednesday to “provide their position and any documentary evidence they deem relevant”.
Fifa is probing what it called an apparent breach of two articles of the organisation’s disciplinary code. One covers infringements and the other offensive behaviour and fair play. Uruguay striker Luis Suarez may be brushed aside for the rest of the World Cup.
FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce said last night: ‘I have watched the incident several times on television. There is no doubt Luis Suarez is a fantastic footballer but, once again, his actions have left him open to severe criticism. FIFA must investigate the incident.’
A Norway gambling website posted a silly prop bet before the World Cup and 167 people have cashed in. The prop bet: 175-to-1 odds that Luis Suarez would bite someone during the tournament. According to Darren Rovell of ESPN, 167 people made the bet, including the owner of the ticket stub seen above. That ticket belongs to Thomas Syversen, who bet 32 krone (about $5.25 USD) on Suarez biting someone. He cashed in for 5600 krone (a little over $916) on the bet. Not a bad bit of business. Considering Suarez has bitten two other people before on a soccer field, the odds weren’t that bad, either.
Here’s the video of the three incidents: