Hungry for Victory: Luis Suarez Strikes Bites Again[i]
For those of you that actually do work instead of pretending to function while actually watching the World Cup, you may have missed Luis Suarez once again go cannibal on an opposing player. In Uruguay’s match against Italy, Suarez appeared to start gnawing on the shoulder of Giorgio Chiellini while attempting to vie for position in the Italian box. This is the third time that Suarez has tried to sate his cannibalistic urges during a match, having previously bitten Ottman Bakkal during a 2011 Ajax-PSV Eindhoven showdown, and again chomping on Branislav Ivanovic in a 2013 Liverpool match against Chelsea. The immediate question now is what discipline will Suarez face for this latest nibble?
Luis Suarez has never been too bothered by the rules of the game. He is already remembered (and hated throughout Ghana) for blocking a surefire goal with his hand in the 2010 World Cup (he was given the red, but Ghana did miss the ensuing penalty, helping Uruguay win the match and advance). Despite having bitten three opponents during play, he has never received a card for it during a match; however, he has faced ample discipline as a result. After the 2011 incident, Ajax suspended him two matches, only to have the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) extend the ban to seven matches. The club also fined “The Cannibal of Ajax” an undisclosed amount. In 2013, the English Football Association (FA) charged Suarez with violent conduct that normally results in a three-match ban (once again, his club fined him as well). The normal suspension was not deemed to be enough this time, and increased the ban to ten matches. Ironically, Suarez did not appeal this suspension, saying, “I acknowledge that my actions were not acceptable on the football pitch.” Clearly he may have acknowledged that message, but it still hasn’t sunk in (like his teeth into Chiellini anyway).
Per interpretations of Law 12 of FIFA’s Laws of the Game, violent conduct is when a player uses excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball. Article 40 of The Disciplinary Code allows for increased sanction if an infringement has been repeated, which I think we can safely say may occur here (up to a 24-match or 24-month suspension – Article 19). Article 48, covering misconduct against opponents or persons other than match officials, includes suspensions of at least:
- one match for serious foul play (particularly in the case of excessive or brute force);
- one match for unsporting conduct towards an opponent or a person other than a match official (subject to art. 53, 54 and 57-60); OR
- two matches for assaulting (elbowing, punching, kicking etc.) an opponent or a person other than a match official.
Article 48 also includes a six-match ban for spitting at an opponent or other non-official, which seems like it should be less than assaulting, but that is neither here nor there. Further, a fine may be imposed, and the first tenet of Article 77 could come into play to cover anything the officials missed.
Article 77 of the Disciplinary Code authorizes the Committee to:
- sanction serious infringements which have escaped the match officials’ attention;
- rectify obvious errors in the referee’s disciplinary decisions;
- extend the duration of a match suspension incurred automatically by an expulsion); and
- pronounce additional sanctions, such as a fine.
Basically, the Disciplinary Committee has a fairly broad spectrum of authority to handle the matter.
Based on his previous offenses of the exact same nature, any punishment that FIFA handed down would almost certainly be enhanced. If found guilty, don’t bet too much on Uruguay from here on out, as they could easily be without the Cannibal of Ajax for the rest of the 2014 World Cup, and likely longer.
[i] This line generously donated by fellow writer for the blog, Justin Fielkow.