Will Luis Suárez be suspended from 2014 World Cup?

Luis Suárez of Uruguay is accused of biting an opponent during a match against Italy Tuesday. What is the penalty for biting an opponent in soccer? Will FIFA suspend Suárez from the rest of the 2014 World Cup?

Hassan AmmarAP
Italy's Giorgio Chiellini displays his shoulder showing apparent teeth marks after colliding with the mouth of Uruguay's Luis Suarez during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014.

Uruguay may have won their World Cup game against Italy on Tuesday, but the team may lose their star striker Luis Suárez for the rest of the competition.

Suárez collided with Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini late in the second half of the game, brought his head down into his opponent’s shoulder, and apparently bit him.

Chiellini was not able to get the referee to notice the bite during the match. Later, Chiellini called not sending Suárez off “ridiculous,” adding that the fact that he was bitten was "absolutely clear," according to the Associated Press.

Now, it's up to FIFA to decide the fate of Suárez – who has a reputation for aggressive play, and a record of previous dental encounters. 

The World Cup's governing body said in a statement that they "can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the player Luis Suarez of Uruguay.”

According to Reuters, Uraguay has until 5 p.m. Brazil time today to "provide their position and any documentary evidence they deem relevant," on the incident, after which they will decide what penalties, if any, to impose on Suárez.

FIFA's disciplinary code sets a maximum ban of 24 matches or two years. The longest suspension FIFA has  imposed for World Cup offense was an eight-game ban against Italy's Mauro Tassotti for breaking Spain's Luis Enrique's nose in 1994.

So, FIFA's deliberations may have to include such questions as: Is chomping on a player's shoulder more or less egregious than a broken nose? How flagrant does an injury have to be for an equivalent eight-game ban? Will FIFA take into account Suarez's penchant for dental work on opponents?

If Uruguay plays all four games that it could potentially have left in the tournament, it would be a surprise if Suárez is banned for any less time, according to some soccer pundits.

Technically, it's possible that Suárez may face no disciplinary action. But given that there is a video of the incident (being played over and over again) which may be used as evidence against him, it's unlikely that Suárez will escape without any sanctions.

The video is further supported by photographs of what appear to be toothmarks on Chiellini’s shoulder.

What's Suárez history with this kind of alleged attack? He was banned for seven games in 2010 for biting, and then for ten games in 2013 for the same reason.

Suárez is known for his temper and controversial behavior. According to the New York Times, there have been a number of other dirty plays on his record, as well a number of racist comments against a black opponent, which earned him a suspension.

Suárez had vowed to overcome his negative image. Referring to his previous biting incidents, he is quoted as saying that his bad reputation on the field was “not what I want to be remembered for. I want to do things right. I really, really do.”

If he does genuinely want to reform, Suárez may one day look back on Tuesday’s events not as a team victory, but as a personal defeat.

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