News / Americas

Suarez, Uruguay Await FIFA Decision on Biting Incident

  • Italy's Giorgio Chiellini accuses Uruguay's Luis Suarez of biting him during their match at the Dunas arena in Natal, June 24, 2014.
  • Uruguay's Diego Godin scores during the match between Uruguay and Italy at the Dunas arena in Natal, June 24, 2014.
  • Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon deflects a shot by Uruguay's Luis Suarez during their match at the Dunas arena in Natal, June 24, 2014.
  • England's Chris Smalling heads the ball during their match against Costa Rica at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte, June 24, 2014.
  • England's Daniel Sturridge, center, tries to score past Costa Rica's goalkeeper Keilor Navas during their match at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte, June 24, 2014.
  • England's Wayne Rooney, left, fights for the ball with Costa Rica's Junior Diaz during their match at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte, June 24, 2014.
  • England's Frank Lampard at the end of his match against Costa Rica at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte, June 24, 2014.
  • A fan of Japan shows his support before the start of their match against Colombia at the Pantanal arena in Cuiaba, June 24, 2014.
  • Japan's goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima is beaten by Colombia's Jackson Martinez during their match at the Pantanal arena in Cuiaba, June 24, 2014.
  • Colombia's Jackson Martinez scores his second goal of the match between Japan and Colombia at the Pantanal arena in Cuiaba, June 24, 2014.
  • A fan of Ivory Coast cheers before the start of the match against Greece at the Castelao arena in Fortaleza, June 24, 2014.
  • Greece's Sokratis Papastathopoulos, left, fights for the ball with Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba during their match at the Castelao arena in Fortaleza ,June 24, 2014.
  • Greece's Andreas Samaris scores past Ivory Coast's Boubacar Barry during their match at the Castelao arena in Fortaleza, June 24, 2014.
Reuters

Soccer's governing body FIFA has not yet decided whether to expel Uruguay striker Luis Suarez from the World Cup for biting an opponent with deliberations set to continue on Thursday.

Uruguay FA president Wilmar Valdez told reporters in Rio de Janeiro that FIFA's disciplinary committee had not reached a decision on the case at a meeting on Wednesday and would continue deliberations on Thursday.

The incident in Uruguay's 1-0 victory over Italy 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.

Suarez's lawyer, Alejandro Balbi, flew to Rio de Janeiro with Uruguay FA chief Wilmar Valdez to lay out the player's defense, although the consensus among those who have seen replays of the incident is that the forward's future at the tournament is in serious jeopardy.

The disciplinary committee must rule on whether or not Suarez is guilty. Uruguay has up to four more games to play in Brazil, and any ban would probably rule the player out of the finals.

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

Balbi, Suarez's team and the Uruguayan public generally believe that the forward has been unfairly singled out in what they call a "manhunt" against a player whose checkered career has seen him banned twice before for biting.

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

Uruguay defender Diego Lugano said the incident had been blown out of proportion, and that other potentially more dangerous fouls had been committed in other games.

"Football's like that," he told reporters.

"It's passion, it's contact, and you should have a bit more balance and justice when talking about different incidents, because if not it looks like you only want to take aim at one player or team and it seems on purpose."

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.
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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.

The incident in question came 10 minutes from time in Uruguay's Group D game against Italy, when television footage showed Suarez's mouth come down on the shoulder of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, who has 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-time champions Italy from the tournament.

Maximum ban two years

Chiellini pulled down his shirt, and Reuters photographs showed what looked like bite marks on his shoulder.

Suarez has denied biting.

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.
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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.

"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 was asked by Reuters in Rio whether the contact was intentional.

"No," he replied. "Suarez's mouth hit against the Italian player's shoulder."

Valdez added: "If FIFA acts the way that it should, being objective, according to the proof that there is, he really should not be sanctioned ... Luis is a football player that is important to the whole world, not just Uruguay."

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 offense at a World Cup was eight games on Italy's Mauro Tassotti for breaking the nose of Spain's Luis Enrique in 1994.

FIFA said it would work quickly to investigate the incident, with Uruguay due to play Colombia on Saturday in Rio in the first knockout round.

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

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."

Huge blow

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.

Whatever the outcome of FIFA's investigation, the biting scandal could have a major impact on the player's career, just as he appeared to have put past misdemeanors behind him and focused on the football.

His Liverpool side finished second in the English Premier League last season, thanks in no small part to Suarez's brilliance in front of goal that earned him the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Player of the Year award.

But PFA chief Gordon Taylor said he now feared for Suarez's future.

"He seemed to get back on track," Taylor told the BBC. "He had a great season... It is a big problem for Liverpool," he added. "I fear for his career."

Suarez was banned for 10 games last year after biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in a Premier League game and in 2010 was suspended for seven games for a similar offence against PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal while playing for Ajax Amsterdam.

He also missed Uruguay's World Cup semi-final against the Netherlands four years ago after being sent off for a handball on the line that denied Ghana what would have been a match-winning goal in the final minute of extra time.

Suarez risks losing lucrative commercial deals.

Poker brand 888 said 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, which said it was awaiting FIFA's decision before taking any action, and he has also been advertising the Beats headphones worn by many top players.

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Comment Sorting
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by: abel ogah from: OJU Nigeria
June 26, 2014 10:25 AM
He needed a life ban!!! FIFA was too mild. Is he a man eater?

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