In review: Miscellaneous Luis Suarez bite factoids

The National Sportsdesk runs down some of the history and reaction to put Luis Suarez's latest biting incident into context.
Luis Suarez shown during the match against Italy in which he bit Giorgio Chiellini. Emmanuel Dunand / AFP / June 24, 2014
Luis Suarez shown during the match against Italy in which he bit Giorgio Chiellini. Emmanuel Dunand / AFP / June 24, 2014

In light of Luis Suarez’s revival of his biting habit and his subsequent four-month Fifa ban, The National Sportsdesk has collected some of the various lists that help put the incident in context.

Suarez’s past incidents

– July 2, 2010. In the quarter-finals of the World Cup in South Africa, Suarez used his hand in the closing seconds of extra time to block a header that looked a certain goal by Ghana with the game locked at 1-1.

He was sent off but punched the air in joy when Ghana missed the ensuing penalty. Uruguay went on to win on penalties, stopping Ghana become the first African team to make the last four. His punishment was to miss the semi-final that his team lost.

– November 20, 2010. Playing for Ajax Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Suarez sunk his teeth into PSV Eindhoven player Otman Bakkal’s shoulder. The offence, his first of three major biting incidents, earned him a seven-match ban and a nickname in Dutch media of the “Cannibal of Ajax”.

– October 15, 2011. Now playing for Liverpool, Suarez was accused of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra during a Premier League match. He was banned for eight matches and fined 40,000 pounds ($68,000).

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– April 21, 2013. In a match against Chelsea, Suarez also bit defender Branislav Ivanovic on the arm. He was banned for 10 games and further vilified by the British media and public.

– June 24, 2014. In Uruguay’s final group match against Italy at the World Cup in Brazil with the score at 0-0, Suarez bit defender Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder before rolling on the ground and clutching his teeth. The Italians were still protesting when Uruguay scored to put them out of the tournament. FIFA banned him for nine matches, suspended him from any football activity for four months, and fined him 100,000 Swiss francs (Dh407,708).

Five other bans

– Eric Cantona was unpredictable, both on and off the pitch. However, nothing prepared people for the moment the Frenchman reacted to abuse from Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons after being sent off during a 1995 Premier League game. Cantona launched himself into the crowd with a kung-fu kick and landed two punches for good measure. The English FA saw no mitigating circumstances and, not considering a four-month club ban enough, extended it to nine months.

– Mauro Tassotti of Italy thought he had got away with breaking the nose of Spanish star Luis Enrique when he deliberately elbowed him in the 1994 World Cup quarter-final. Enrique could not continue and the Italians went on to win the game 2-1. The referee missed the incident, but the television images did not and the Italian was subsequently banned for eight games.

– Paolo Rossi of Italy returned to the national squad for the 1982 World Cup finals after a three-year ban for being implicated in a 1980 match-fixing scandal was reduced to two. He also had to hand over his passport. Rossi always protested his innocence and after poor performances in the 1982 group games, he scored six goals in the latter stages including a hat-trick against Brazil in the quarter-finals. The Prodigal Son’s rehabilitation was complete.

– Billy Cook was a small town player with Oldham Athletic. In 1915 his team were battling it out for the English league title in a match against Middlesbrough when Cook was red carded but refused to leave the pitch. The referee walked off in protest forcing the match to be abandoned. The football authorities took a very dim view of Cook’s behaviour and banned him for a year. Oldham went on to finish second in the championship one point behind Everton.

– Kevin Keegan , the Liverpool and England striker, and BILLY BREMNER, a fiery Leeds United Scotland midfielder, brought shame on themselves with a punch up during the Charity Shield season-opener in 1974 They became the first British players to be sent off at Wembley. It was viewed with even more distaste by the FA suits as it was live on television for the first time. Their mutual disgust at being sent off took the form of both of them flinging their shirts to the ground as they left the pitch. They each received 11-game bans.

Five other bites

– Rugby League: Anthony Watts reinforced his reputation as a bad boy of Australian Rugby League after being accused of biting an opponent’s penis in a minor Gold Coast League game for the Tugun Seahawks against Bilambil Jets in 2013. A Jets player pulled down his shorts after a ruckus to show the referee he had been bitten in a painful place. Watts denied the charge vehemently. “I was wearing a mouthguard and there’s no way I bit him on the dick,” he said. His protests of innocence fell on deaf ears and he received an eight match ban. “After the judiciary panel reviewed footage as well as reports from medical staff and match officials, it found Watts guilty of contrary conduct,” read the Gold Coast Rugby League judgement.

– Boxing: A 1997 heavyweight world title bout between holder Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson was billed as the ‘Sound and the Fury’. Tyson, enraged at what he saw as deliberate headbutting by the taller Holyfield, worked his gumshield free during the third round and ended by biting off part of the top of Holyfield’s ear and spat it out onto the canvas. Referee Mills Lane did not stop the fight immediately but when it became clear that Tyson had repeated the offence he had no alternative but to call it off and award the fight to the Holyfield. Tyson charged round the ring trying to get at Holyfield in his corner but the champion was led to safety. The Nevada boxing authorities fined Tyson $3 million and revoked his licence, although it was restored later. In 2009 on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Tyson apologised to Holyfield who accepted.

– Rugby Union: South Africa prop Yohann ‘the Beast’ Le Roux achieved his moment of infamy in a test against New Zealand in 1994 when he nibbled at legendary hooker Sean Fitzpatrick’s ear. With blood pouring from his ear, Fitzpatrick complained to the match officials who said they had seen nothing. TV evidence was unequivocal though and the ‘Beast’ was sent home by his team managers the night after the game. Fitzpatrick later revealed Le Roux had already bitten him on his arm before going for the ear. Le Roux later received an 18 month ban. He thought he had been hard done by declaring: “For an 18 month suspension I feel I probably should have torn it off.”

– Australian Rules Football: Peter Filandia was accused of biting the scrotum of rival player Chad Davis while competing for Port Melbourne against Springvale in Melbourne in 2002. Filandia excused himself by saying he had not realised what part of Davis’s body he was tucking into. “It was a split-second decision,” he said. Australian Rules authorities ordered a 10 match ban.

– Rugby Union: London Scottish flanker Simon Fenn emerged from a ruck in a 1998 club game with Bath without the ball and also part of his ear. His injury required 25 stitches. He had little idea who the perpetrator was, but suspicion fell on prop Kevin Yates and despite his denials Yates was suspended for six months. Match referee Ashley Rowden said: “I’ve never experienced anything like it.” Yates tried to leave the incident behind him by moving to New Zealand to carry on his career.

Five reactions

– Uruguay Football Association’s official Twitter feed: “Strength Luis! More united than ever. Let’s go Uruguay!”

– Uruguay captain Diego Lugano: “Indignation, impotence, I think that’s what we all feel. We’d all like a fairer world, but that world simply does not exist. Those who rule, rule, and the strong ones are the strong ones ... Keep feeling proud of him, he deserves it. Nothing will stop us. We will carry on with humility, union, determination, recognition of mistakes, and with our heads always high.”

– Former Brazil striker Ronaldo: “I never bit anyone, I know bites hurt. (If) my kids bite me they are punished in the dark room with the big bad wolf: that’s the soccer equivalent of not playing soccer for four months.”

– Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre: “Liverpool Football Club will wait until we have seen and had time to review the FIFA disciplinary committee report before making any further comment.”

– Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce: “I think the punishment handed out by FIFA to Luis Suarez is fully justified. Hopefully, he will realise now that behaviour of this type will not be tolerated under any circumstances.”

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Published: June 27, 2014 04:00 AM


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