The world’s governing body for soccer, FIFA, began disciplinary proceedings Tuesday night against Uruguayan striker Luís Suárez for having apparently bitten the Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder.
The incident took place in the 80th minute. Television replays showed the two jostling for position near the Italian goal, when Suárez brought his head down near Chiellini’s left shoulder.
“Suarez is a sneak, and he gets away with it because FIFA want their stars to play in the World Cup."
- Giorgio Chiellini, Italy defender
The Italian responded sharply, throwing his elbow into Suárez’s face, after which both men fell to the ground—Chiellini holding his shoulder, Suárez his front teeth.
Chiellini pulled down the collar of his jersey, displaying what appeared to be a bite mark on his skin.
No foul was called by the game’s referee, however, and play resumed with Uruguayan captain Diego Godín scoring the match’s only goal about a minute later.
The win qualified the South American team for the Round of 16, setting up a Saturday showdown against Colombia.
While the camera, which was positioned behind Suárez’s head, didn’t capture a bite, it is hard to explain why else the Uruguayan would have lowered his head into Chiellini’s shoulder the way he did.
After the match Chiellini told reporters, “Suarez is a sneak, and he gets away with it because FIFA want their stars to play in the World Cup."
For his part, Suárez said, “These situations happen on the field. I had contact with his shoulder, nothing more, things like that happen all the time."
FIFA released a statement explaining, “The FIFA Disciplinary Committee is responsible for sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials attention.”
Suárez and the Uruguayan team have been asked to make available any evidence they may have in the matter.
While it’s unlikely that the team itself will be sanctioned, if FIFA finds enough evidence, Suárez could be facing an international ban of anywhere from a few games to up to two years.
This is not the first time that the talented but troubled striker’s mouth has gotten him into trouble.
In 2010, when he played for Ajax in the Dutch Eredvisie. He bit PSV Eindhoven's Ottman Bakkal during a 0-0 draw, earning himself the nickname, “The Cannibal of Ajax.” He was given a 7-game suspension by the league.
Two years later, with his current team Liverpool in the Premier League, he was banned for 8 games for making disparaging racial comments to Patrice Evra of Manchester United.
In 2013, he missed 10 Premier League games after biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.
Prior to the World Cup this year, a number of articles appeared in the English-language press praising Suárez not only for his skills—he was named Premier League player of the year for 2013-14—but also for a newfound maturity.
Well, maybe not.