NATAL, Brazil — Uruguay striker Luis Suarez looks almost certain to be banned from the World Cup for the second successive tournament after he bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder during his team’s 1-0 win on Tuesday.
FIFA is investigating the incident which has become a worldwide talking point and Suarez, twice previously banned for biting, looks likely to be hit with another lengthy suspension despite escaping punishment during the match.
“We are awaiting the official match reports and will gather all the necessary elements in order to evaluate the matter,” a FIFA spokesperson said.
Suarez and Chiellini clashed in the Italian penalty area 10 minutes from the end of the match which sealed Uruguay’s progression and Italy’s elimination from the tournament.
Chiellini furiously pulled open his shirt to show the mark to the referee.
Reuters photographs show what appeared to be bite marks on his shoulder and pictures also showed Suarez sitting on the ground holding his teeth immediately after the incident.
The Italians were still complaining about it when Uruguay’s Diego Godin scored with an 81st-minute header to secure a 1-0 win that sent them into the second round and eliminated Italy.
“It was ridiculous not to send Suarez off,” Chiellini told Rai TV.
“It is clear, clear-cut and then there was the obvious dive afterwards because he knew very well that he did something that he shouldn’t have done.”
Suarez said the incident was just part of the rough and tumble of the game.
“Those are situations that happen on the pitch. We were both just there inside the area. He shoved me with his shoulder, and my eye got left like that also,” he said in reference to Chiellini’s mark.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez did not see it.
“I’d like to see the images,” he told a news conference.
“I didn’t see that. And if it happened the referee probably didn’t see it. So no I don’t have any more comments to make. We had more important things than this in a football match.”
Liverpool’s Suarez was banned for 10 games last year after biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in a Premier League match and in 2010 he was suspended for seven games for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal while playing for Ajax Amsterdam.
He missed Uruguay’s World Cup semi-final against the Netherlands four years ago after being sent for a handball on the line that denied Ghana what would have been a match-winning goal in the final minute of extra time in a quarter-final match.
He was sent off for that incident and although he was not cautioned by the referee on Tuesday, FIFA’s rules allow the use of video or “any other evidence” to retrospectively punish players.
FIFA’s disciplinary code sets a maximum ban of 24 matches or two years, but the longest suspension FIFA has imposed for an offence in the World Cup was eight games for Italy’s Mauro Tassotti for breaking Spain’s Luis Enrique’s nose in 1994 with an elbow.
Uruguay could potentially play four more games in the tournament and it would be a surprise if Suarez were to be given a ban of a shorter duration.
“I have watched the incident several times on television,” FIFA executive committee member Jim Boyce told Reuters.
“There is no doubt Luis Suarez is a fantastic footballer but once again his actions have left him open to severe criticism.
“FIFA must investigate the incident seriously and take whatever disciplinary action is deemed necessary.”
The indiscretion sent the world’s social media into meltdown and within minutes of the match ending #Suarez was the top trending hashtag on Twitter.
In the day’s other matches:
— A stoppage time penalty from Giorgos Samaras gave Greece a dramatic 2-1 victory over Ivory Coast in their final Group C match and took them through to the knock-out stages of the World Cup for the first time.
Samaras stroked home a controversial 93rd minute penalty after he was judged to have been tripped in the box by Giovanni Sio as the Greeks poured forward in search of a winner.
— Colombia striker Jackson Martinez scored twice as it thrashed Japan 4-1 to maintain its 100 percent record and claim top spot in Group C to set up a second-round clash with Uruguay.
Colombia, which is in the last 16 for the first time since 1990 and had never before won three matches at the finals, went ahead through an early Juan Cuadrado penalty at the Pantanal arena.
— Unbeaten Costa Rica proudly marched into the second round of the World Cup, topping Group D containing three former winners after a 0-0 draw with already-eliminated England on Tuesday.
Costa Rica, assured of progress before kickoff after beating Italy and Uruguay in a spectacular start to its tournament, comfortably held its own against England, which endured its worst World Cup showing in 56 years.