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Luis Suárez ‘bite’ incident leaves Uruguay striker facing long ban

Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini shows his shoulder, claiming he was bitten by Uruguay’s Luis Suárez in their World Cup match. Photograph: Tony Gentile/Reuters

Luis Suárez wrote his name into World Cup infamy by biting the Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini towards the end of a dramatic Uruguay win to risk another lengthy suspension of anything up to 24 matches.

Uruguay looked to be heading for the exit in the 79th minute with the game locked at 0-0 – the South Americans needed victory – when Suárez tussled with Chiellini as they chased a ball inside the Italy penalty area.

The Liverpool striker leaned his forehead into Chiellini, in what looked, initially, to be a butt before biting down on his opponent’s shoulder. Suárez flung himself to the ground and, moments later, he could be seen holding his teeth.

Chiellini reacted with fury, pulling the neck of his shirt down and across his left shoulder to expose what still photographs revealed to be a bite mark. The Mexican referee Marco Rodríguez – whose nickname is Dracula – took no action, as he did not have a clear view of the flashpoint, but Fifa is investigating and Suárez, not for the first time, faces a massive ban.

Fifa’s disciplinary code has the scope to suspend a player for a maximum of 24 matches – which, technically, can include club games but in practice tends to be only internationals. The longest ban in World Cup history was an eight-match one on Italy’s Mauro Tassotti for breaking Spain’s Luis Enríque’s nose in 1994 with an elbow.

Diego Godín’s 81st-minute goal secured a 1-0 win for Uruguay and the country’s place in the last 16 but Suárez’s exploits cast long shadows. He has high-profile previous for biting opponents – first, PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal in 2010 when he was at Ajax and then Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic at Anfield in April 2013. He was banned for seven games for the Bakkal incident and 10 for the one with Ivanovic.

“It was ridiculous not to send Suárez off,” Chiellini said. “It is clear-cut. Then there was the obvious dive afterwards because he knew very well that he did something that he shouldn’t have done.

“Suárez 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.”

Suárez denied he had bitten Chiellini. “These situations happen on the field,” he said. “I had contact with his shoulder, chest against shoulder and I got a knock to the eye – nothing more.”

But Jim Boyce, the Fifa vice-president and the UK’s most senior official, disagreed. “I have watched the incident several times on television,” he said. “There is no doubt Luis Suárez is a fantastic footballer but, once again, his actions have left him open to severe criticism.”

Uruguay jumped to Suárez’s defence, with the non-playing captain Diego Lugano sensing conspiracy and accusing Chiellini of being a cry baby. He also suggested that the apparent bite mark on the Italian’s shoulder was an existing scar.

“Did you see it [the bite] today or did you see what happened in other years?” Lugano said. “You couldn’t have seen it today because nothing happened. The worst of everything is the attitude of Chiellini. It doesn’t correspond with Italian football, crying and appealing against a rival. As a man he disappointed me totally. I had him as a reference point. You have to be stupid to think that mark on Chiellini is from today.”

Óscar Tabárez, the Uruguay manager, lost his patience at the questions about Suárez and he lashed out at “certain media” for what he suggested was the targeting of the player.

“This is a football World Cup, it’s not about morality, cheap morality,” Tabárez said. “As we say in Uruguay, there are people who are hiding behind a tree waiting for someone to make a mistake. Suárez, despite any mistakes he might have made, is the preferred target of certain media, of certain press, who give him much more coverage for an alleged error he might have made rather than the things for which he is really in football.”

Cesare Prandelli, the Italy manager, tendered his resignation in the aftermath of what was a shattering defeat and so did Giancarlo Abete, the president of the Italian Football Federation. Prandelli said that he had not seen the Suárez bite, only the marks on Chiellini’s shoulder, but he had broader concerns.

He was furious at Rodriguez’s decision to send off the midfielder Claudio Marchisio for a studs-up challenge on Edigio Arévalo Rios in the 60th minute. “That did not deserve a red card,” Prandelli said. “That generated a second match altogether.”

Source: The Guardian

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