Replays shown on ESPN still aren’t completely clear, but there are serious questions from the Italian team, officials, media and fans as to whether super-talented but highly emotional Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez tried to bite Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay‘s 1-0 win over Italy in the final game of Group D at the World Cup. The result advanced Uruguay on to the Round of 16, while it knocked the Italians out of the tournament.
Suarez appeared to lean his head in toward Chiellini’s left shoulder, but from there, what he did was somewhat unclear. He didn’t totally headbutt Chiellini, but it did seem like he stopped and tried to do something to his shoulder, with biting being the only possible answer from the replays.
Suarez was holding his mouth after the incident, though that could be explained as him hitting his face on Chiellini’s shoulder. How much this actually happened is in doubt — there was no blood, but Chiellini spent a good bit of time in the aftermath trying to get officials to look at a mark on his shoulder that may or may not have been caused by Suarez.
If Suarez did bite Chiellini, however, only a major punishment should be warranted. At the very least, Suarez should be banned from international soccer for a year, if not more. This would be the third time Suarez has tried to bite an opponent, though the other two incidents occurred in club matches, including a famous incident against Chelsea in the Premier League in England.
Suarez had a marvelous season in England in 2013-14, scoring 31 goals and keeping Liverpool in the title race until the very end despite missing games at the start of the campaign … due to his suspension for the previous biting incident.
Many had talked about how Suarez had reformed himself and that the 31-goal season was even “redemption” in some way. However, today’s incident shows that in the heat of the moment, Suarez still can’t be trusted and that he is still going to lash out. How it goes through a player’s mind for a third time to try and bite an opponent over the matter of just a few years is incomprehensible to the average soccer fan, and will only be defended by those wearing Uruguay’s shade of blue.
But even if Suarez didn’t make contact, there’s a problem here because somehow, the idea crossed his mind in the final moments of a match where his country needed a win to advance to the knockout stages of the World Cup, an opportunity that only comes up once every four years. That alone signals that Suarez hasn’t changed, and FIFA should look into this incident with a full investigation.
If it’s found Suarez didn’t do anything, then so be it. He can’t be punished until he’s found guilty, of course. But if guilty, a significant punishment must be handed out, the likes of which we have not seen in quite a while.