In the 2014 World Cup, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez was hungry for more than a win.
The star forward bit the left shoulder of Italian opponent, Giorgio Chiellini, late in the team’s final group game on June 24.
Suarez, who earned a 10-match ban in 2013 for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic and a seven-match ban in 2010 for biting a player in the Eredivisie, now has been barred from the rest of this year’s World Cup in Brazil and all football activities and stadiums for four months. As a result, he will miss Uruguay’s next nine internationals and be fined.
There’s little doubt that the player faces much controversy about his dental incident. In the picture at the dentist’s office that shows all of the things that ruin teeth – chewing on ice, gnawing on a pencil, biting fingernails – sinking chompers into an opponent during a soccer game could rank up there.
During the Uruguay-Italy game, the referee gave no card to Suarez, and Chiellini was livid. The Italian defenseman pulled down his jersey to show the teeth marks on his shoulder.
However, in the days following Uruguay’s 1-0 win against Italy and the FIFA’s verdict, Chiellini said the punishment was too harsh.
“I have always unequivocally considered the disciplinary interventions by the competent bodies, but at the same time I believe the proposed formula is excessive,” Chiellini wrote on his blog. “I sincerely hope he will be allowed to stay close to his teammates during the games, because such a ban is really alienating for a player.”
The star striker’s suspension marks the longest ban in World Cup history. It also caused him to lose a sponsor, online gambling firm 888poker. His deal with Adidas could also be in jeopardy.
The Internet has been ablaze with oral health jabs, and Uruguay fans have raged at the FIFA ruling. Perhaps what younger aspiring soccer players can take away from incident is that biting opponents is far from proper sportsmanship and a bad way to get the media to focus on their smile. If anything, teeth whitening and kicking away bad breath make for much easier ways to score.
Uruguay will play Colombia in the last 16 on Saturday after qualifying from Group D behind Costa Rica.