Football: Suarez risks World Cup ban after Italy bite
By Justin DAVIS, AFP Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 3:31 pm TWN
NATAL, Brazil - Uruguay star Luis Suarez faces expulsion from the World Cup for biting another player as FIFA confirmed it had opened disciplinary proceedings against him on Wednesday.
Suarez, banned twice before for biting opponents, appeared to sink his teeth into defender Giorgio Chiellini on Tuesday during Uruguay's 1-0 win over Italy.
Uruguayan players and team officials pleaded ignorance but the incident was captured clearly on television footage, making a ban almost inevitable.
"FIFA can confirm disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the player Luis Suarez," FIFA said in a statement.
Suarez and the Uruguayan Football Association can submit evidence to investigators until 5:00pm (2100 GMT) on Thursday, FIFA added.
Suarez, who plays in the English Premier League for Liverpool, is one of the world's biggest stars, and could be banned for up to 24 games under FIFA rules.
He has already received long bans for biting during his club career as well as racially abusing Manchester United player Patrice Evra during a game in 2011.
The latest flashpoint in his occurred towards the end of Uruguay's Group D game with Italy.
Replays showed Suarez appearing to bite Chiellini's shoulder as the two players made contact in an off-the-ball incident.
Chiellini angrily remonstrated with Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez, pulling his shirt off his shoulder to show red marks on his neck.
Afterwards a disgusted Chiellini told Italian television: "He bit me, it's clear, I still have the mark."
"The referee should have blown his whistle and given him a red card," he added.
Suarez sought to play down the incident in comments to Uruguayan television, claiming Chiellini had barged him.
"There are things that happen on the pitch and you should not make such a big deal out of them," Suarez said.
Tabarez 'didn't see' bite
Uruguay's veteran manager Oscar Tabarez pleaded ignorance of the incident.
"I didn't see it. I'd like to see the images first," he told a press conference.
Tabarez also suggested Suarez was being victimised by journalists.
"He is the preferred target for a lot of media," Tabarez said.
Pressed on the issue, a visibly irritated Tabarez refused to condemn Suarez. "This is a football World Cup, it's not about cheap morality."
But senior FIFA officials wasted no time in condemning the striker.
"There is no doubt Luis Suarez is a fantastic footballer but once again his actions have left him open to severe criticism," FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce told the BBC. "FIFA must investigate this incident very seriously and take whatever action is deemed necessary."
If found guilty, the incident means the end of the tournament for Suarez, lambasted during the 2010 World Cup for his goal-line handball which denied Ghana what would have been a quarter-final victory.
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