FIFA has initiated “disciplinary proceedings” against Luis Suárez, the Uruguay forward, who was caught on camera biting Giorgio Chiellini of Italy during a Group D World Cup game on Tuesday, and the 27-year-old Liverpool player could face an international ban of up to two years if soccer’s governing body rules against him.
Suárez, who has previously been suspended twice for biting opponents in league games, was shown on television sinking his teeth into Chiellini’s shoulder, before falling to the ground himself and covering his face. While Marco Rodriguez of Mexico, the game’s referee, chose to ignore the exchange and took no action, FIFA gave the Uruguayan Football Association until 5 p.m. Brasilia time (6 p.m. EDT) on Wednesday to respond to the incident. A ruling is expected before Uruguay takes on Colombia on Saturday.
Here is the official statement from FIFA, issued Wednesday:
FIFA can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the player Luis Suarez of Uruguay following an apparent breach of art. 48 and/or art. 57 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ match Italy-Uruguay played on 24 June 2014. The player and/or the Uruguayan FA are invited to provide with their position and any documentary evidence they deem relevant until 25 June 2014, 5pm, Brasilia time… According to art. 77 lit. a of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FDC), the FIFA Disciplinary Committee is responsible for sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials’ attention. Furthermore, according to art. 96 of the FDC, any type of proof may be produced (par. 1), in particular are admissible, reports from referees, declarations from the parties and witnesses, material evidence, audio or video recordings (par. 3).
The clash between Suárez and Chiellini happened at about the 80th minute in the game when the two players got tangled up in front of Italy’s goal post. Seconds later, Uruguay scored the winning goal to qualify for the Round of 16 and knock Italy out of the tournament.
“It was ridiculous not to send Suarez off,” Chiellini told Italy’s Rai TV, according to Reuters. “It is clear, clear-cut and then there was the obvious dive afterwards because he knew very well that he did something that he shouldn’t have done.”
Suárez, who did not confirm or deny biting Chiellini, said after the game that he got angry at the Italian defender after he was hit in the eye.
“Those are situations that happen on the pitch. We were both just there inside the area. He shoved me with his shoulder, and my eye got left like that also,” Suárez was quoted by Reuters as saying.
Mixed Reactions At Home
Meanwhile, popular opinion in Uruguay is divided over Suárez’s biting stunt.
“We needed to win, so if you have to hit you hit, if you have to bite you bite,” Barbara Giordano, a 26-year-old law student in Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital, told Reuters.
However, other fans at home were not so charitable and criticized Suárez for his action.
“This kid can't control his biting and attacking issues,” Luis Lara, a 52-year-old shopkeeper, told Reuters. “That makes all of us Uruguayans look bad.”
Twitter was also flooded with posts related to Suarez's indiscretion. Here is a selection of tweets -- a mix of criticism and banter -- from people reacting to Suarez's latest antic.
Give Suarez a 12 month ban and be done with it. I love the guy as a footballer but this is just insanity now.
— Chris Millington (@ChrisJohnMilly) June 25, 2014
Looks like Suarez could be getting a 24 match ban... he may be our best player but he has let everyone in Football down
— Matt Craig (@MattHDGamer) June 25, 2014
The people making excuses for #Suarez are part of his problem and the trouble with football: Score enough goals and you can do no wrong.
— Darren Lewis (@MirrorDarren) June 25, 2014
Evolution of Luis Suarez pic.twitter.com/cxeuaUWvdB
— Tyler Durden (@WasimAhmed89) June 25, 2014
Suarez in the World Cup from now on pic.twitter.com/8QHYPmR7AV
— Give me Internet (@GiveMeInternet) June 25, 2014
— masereka joel alex (@kukuwazabanga) June 25, 2014