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

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    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.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    Smugglers Use Uber-registered Drivers to Move Migrants to US Border

    Vehicles carrying 34 Central American migrants apprehended in June between northern Mexican states of Zacatecas and Coahuila, official says

    Cuban Hip Hop Group Orishas Reunite With Ode to Island

    Reuniting after a seven-year hiatus, emigre group also returning to their roots with new single celebrating their 'Cuba Isla Bella,' and say they hope to launch fourth studio album within a year

    Amid Cuts, Rio Police Ask for Handouts Ahead of Olympics

    Just weeks ahead of the Games, helicopters are grounded, patrol cars are parked, security forces so pressed for funds that some have to beg for donations of pens, cleaning supplies, even toilet paper

    UN: Drought-hit Central America Must Help Farmers Withstand Climate Change

    Aid groups and governments must boost resilience of communities and ‘not settle for simply mounting a humanitarian response every time an emergency situation occurs,’ official says

    Argentine Police Search Ex-president’s Properties

    Investigators seek documents as part of probe into possible corruption by Cristina Fernandez

    Verdict in Trial of Brazil's Rousseff Due after Olympics, O Globo Newspaper Reports

    First Olympic Games to be held in South America are due to open Aug. 5 amid political turmoil, concern about the Zika virus and Brazil's deepest recession since the 1930s