News / Americas

    Suarez Prepares Defense After World Cup Biting Accusations

    Italy's Giorgio Chiellini (3) complains to referee Marco Rodriguez of Mexico (unseen) during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match against Uruguay in Natal, June 24, 2014.
    Italy's Giorgio Chiellini (3) complains to referee Marco Rodriguez of Mexico (unseen) during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match against Uruguay in Natal, June 24, 2014.
    Reuters

    Luis Suarez's lawyer flew to Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday to present his defense after the Uruguay striker appeared to bite a player during his team's 1-0 victory over Italy, leaving him facing a lengthy ban if found guilty by soccer's governing body.

    The incident in Natal on Tuesday has brought the ugly side of the game to the fore, marring a tournament that has been widely praised for its attacking football and major upsets.

    Uruguay's Luis Suarez reacts after clashing with Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match at the Dunas arena in Natal, June 24, 2014.Uruguay's Luis Suarez reacts after clashing with Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match at the Dunas arena in Natal, June 24, 2014.
    x
    Uruguay's Luis Suarez reacts after clashing with Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match at the Dunas arena in Natal, June 24, 2014.
    Uruguay's Luis Suarez reacts after clashing with Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match at the Dunas arena in Natal, June 24, 2014.

    Suarez, who has been banned from soccer twice previously for biting, has until 5:00 pm local time (2000 GMT) on Wednesday to present his case to FIFA.

    "We're polishing off a defense argument," his lawyer Alejandro Balbi told local radio in Uruguay, where many people support the gifted frontman and feel he is being unfairly singled out by media in Europe.

    "We don't have any doubts that this has happened because it's Suarez and secondly because Italy was eliminated," added Balbi, who is also a Uruguay FA board member. "There's a lot of pressure from England and Italy."

    The incident came 10 minutes from time in Uruguay's Group D game against Italy, when television footage appeared to show Suarez sink his teeth into the shoulder of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, who has publicly accused him of biting.

    The Italians were still complaining when Uruguay's Diego Godin scored with an 81st-minute header to secure a win that sent the South Americans through to the last 16 and eliminated four-times champions Italy from the tournament.

    Italy's Giorgio Chiellini shows his shoulder, claiming he was bitten by Uruguay's Luis Suarez, during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match at the Dunas arena in Natal, June 24, 2014.Italy's Giorgio Chiellini shows his shoulder, claiming he was bitten by Uruguay's Luis Suarez, during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match at the Dunas arena in Natal, June 24, 2014.
    x
    Italy's Giorgio Chiellini shows his shoulder, claiming he was bitten by Uruguay's Luis Suarez, during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match at the Dunas arena in Natal, June 24, 2014.
    Italy's Giorgio Chiellini shows his shoulder, claiming he was bitten by Uruguay's Luis Suarez, during their 2014 World Cup Group D soccer match at the Dunas arena in Natal, June 24, 2014.

    Chiellini pulled down his shirt, and Reuters photographs showed what appeared to be bite marks on his shoulder.

    The referee did not spot the incident during the match, but FIFA's rules allow the use of video or "any other evidence" to punish players retrospectively.

    FIFA's disciplinary code sets a maximum ban of 24 matches or two years, but the longest suspension FIFA has imposed for an offence at a World Cup was eight games for Italy's Mauro Tassotti for breaking the nose of Spain's Luis Enrique in 1994.

    Uruguay could potentially play four more games in the tournament, and it would be a surprise if Suarez were to be given a ban of a shorter duration if found guilty.

    FIFA seeks quick decision

    Luis Suarez Incidents

    2013: Ten game ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic
    2011: Eight game ban for racially abusive language toward Patrice Evra of Manchester United
    2010: Seven game ban for biting PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal

    FIFA said it would work as quickly as possible in its investigation into the incident, with Uruguay due to play Colombia on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro in the first knockout round.

    "The Disciplinary Committee understands the urgency of the matter," FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer told reporters.

    "It is working to get and assess all elements in order to make a decision as early as possible, particularly given the fact that Uruguay are still in the tournament.

    "We will get an update to you later today or tomorrow or whenever they take their decision," she said.

    Brazil's sports minister Aldo Rebelo said the incident was "regrettable" for its potential impact on the World Cup.

    "I think it's very bad that it happened," he told reporters. "He (Suarez) is an exceptional player, helps to give the World Cup more attention ... That was not the first bite. Other ones have happened."

    Losing Suarez would be a huge blow to Uruguay, who rely heavily on the prolific Liverpool forward's attacking talent. He scored both goals in the side's 2-1 win over England earlier in the tournament, and is widely considered the team's best player.

    Denial

    Suarez has denied biting Chiellini.

    "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," he said on Tuesday, in reference to Chiellini's marks.

    Balbi, who is traveling to Rio de Janeiro with Uruguay FA boss Wilmar Valdez to present their case to FIFA, echoed those remarks.

    "There is a possibility that they ban him, because there are precedents, but we're convinced that it was an absolutely casual play, because if Chiellini can show a scratch on one shoulder, Suarez can show a bruised and almost shut eye," Balbi said.

    "We're going to use all the arguments possible so that Luis gets out in the best possible way."

    Commercial impact

    Whatever the outcome of FIFA's investigation, the biting accusations could have an impact on Suarez's commercial value as one of the world's top strikers.

    Poker brand 888 said on Wednesday it was "seriously reviewing" its sponsorship agreement with him after Suarez became one of the online gambling company's brand ambassadors last month.

    Suarez has an endorsement deal with German sportswear company Adidas, and he has also been advertising the Beats headphones worn by many top players.

    Support at home

    Opinion in Uruguay, a country of around three million people sandwiched between soccer powerhouses Argentina and Brazil, was divided over Suarez's latest antics.

    The 27-year-old is regarded as something of a hero at home, having grown up in a poor family in the northwestern city of Salto, where he looked after parked cars to help support his siblings after his parents split up.

    "We needed to win, so if you have to hit you hit, if you have to bite you bite," said Barbara Giordano, a 26-year-old law student in Montevideo.

    Local media also complained about reaction to the incident round the world.

    Leading newspaper El Pais honed in on what it called a "very tough" attitude from English media towards Suarez and highlighted that the player's apparent bruised eye did not receive much attention.

    Some Uruguayans, however, were furious.

    "This kid can't control his biting and attacking issues," said Luis Lara, a 52-year-old shopkeeper. "That makes all of us Uruguayans look bad."

    On Wednesday morning, British newspapers offered a range of headlines reading "Chewy Luis," "Chew Dirty Rat," "Animal Suarez," "3 Bites and You're Out," "Kop Crisis as Suarez Faces Two-Year Ban for Sinking Teeth into Defender," "Kick Suarez Out of Finals, Says Chiellini," "Ban This Monster," and "Jaws III."

    Suarez's indiscretion also sent the world's social media into meltdown and within minutes of the match ending #Suarez was one of the top-trending hash tags on Twitter.

    A tweet from former Liverpool striker Michael Owen was typical of a wave of reaction from former players and pundits: "Tell me I'm seeing things. Surely Suarez didn't bite someone again?" he wrote. "I'm genuinely gutted. I love watching him play more than any other player but he obviously can't control himself."

    Suarez, England's Footballer of the Year, scored both goals in Uruguay's 2-1 victory over England having missed the opening match as he recovered from knee surgery, and until the incident had kept control of his temper during a bruising game.

    Germany's Kahn, former biter, weighs in

    Oliver Kahn, who once nibbled on the neck of a Bundesliga opponent and went after another with a kung-fu-style kick in the same game, believes he understands what is going on inside the head of the Uruguayan striker.

    The former Germany goalkeeper escaped punishment for the twin outbursts against Borussia Dortmund in a 1999 Bundesliga match. A decade later Kahn admitted he was under so much strain at the time that he lost control.

    "That kind of behavior is usually associated with animals," said Kahn of Suarez.

    "In my mind, that's the wrong way to channel your internal tensions," added Kahn, who is now working as a pundit for Germany's ZDF television at the World Cup in Brazil.

    "We saw in the last match [against England] that he was nearly crying. Perhaps that behaviour was a last desperate attempt to release some of the enormous pressure building up inside him and it was the only way to let some of the tension out. For me, there's no other explanation."

    Kahn is remembered in Germany not only for his heroics for Bayern Munich, whom he led to the 2001 Champions League title, and his 86 caps for Germany, but also for nibbling on the neck of Dortmund's Heiko Herrlich and going after Stephane Chapuisat in the same match.

    It took more than a decade for Kahn to admit that he made a mistake.

    "That was the zenith of my aggression and it erupted inside of me," Kahn told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung in 2010.

    Click here to check out our special World Cup site

    Error rendering storify.

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    More Americas News

    The Internet Comes to Cuba ... Slowly

    Smartphones prevalent, but only to make or receive calls, as mobile Internet access severely limited to certain areas; restriction has its charms, some say

    Daily Flights Between US, Cuba Planned for Later this Year

    Agreement to be signed Tuesday in Havana allowing up to 110 flights a day; US law prohibiting travel to Cuba for tourist activities remains in effect

    Cuba's Organic Honey Exports Create Buzz

    Organic honey joins list of country's key agricultural exports, as pesticide use has been linked to declining bee populations elsewhere

    Colombia's ELN Rebels Declare 72-hour Lockdown

    Move, set to begin on Sunday, will restrict transport and commerce amid signs of further delays in their efforts to begin peace talks

    Venezuelan Supreme Court Approves Emergency Powers for President

    President Maduro had asked the court for emergency powers to counteract the country's deep economic crisis

    Photogallery Pope Francis in Mexico After Historic Call for Religious Unity with Russian Patriarch

    Religious leaders sign declaration Friday after historic meeting in Cuba to heal 1,000-year-old rift between Western and Eastern branches of Christianity