URUGUAY and Liverpool footballer Luis Suarez was yesterday banned from all football activity for four months for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.
The striker was also suspended from nine international matches – ruling him out of the rest of the Brazil tournament – and fined £65,000 by Fifa.
It means the 27-year-old will miss the first nine games of the Premier League season when it starts in the middle of August.
The ban is the biggest in World Cup history, beating the eight games given to Italy’s Mauro Tassotti for elbowing Spain’s Luis Enrique in 1994.
Images of the striker biting Chiellini on the shoulder during Tuesday’s match when Uruguay beat Italy have made headlines around the world.
Many players, past and present, and sports fans have spoken of their disgust at the Uruguayan’s actions – the third time he had used his teeth against an opponent.
Suarez was banned for ten games for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in 2013 and was also suspended for seven games for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal in 2010.
After the latest incident, there were calls for him to be banned from the game for life.
Yesterday, football’s governing body said in a statement that his behaviour was intolerable on the field of play.
Claudio Sulser, chairman of the Fifa disciplinary committee, said in a statement: “Such behaviour cannot be tolerated on any football pitch, and in particular not at a Fifa World Cup when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field. “
Scottish criminologist Professor David Wilson, an expert on serial killers, said he believes the Liverpool player could be demonstrating a “classic criminological pattern” as well as suffering from odaxelagnia – gaining pleasure from biting another person.
The incident, during a game which saw Uruguay make it to the last 16 of this year’s World Cup, has become the hottest of topics on social media. Images of Suarez with a dog collar and gum shield or with his face
superimposed on a picture of the Jaws shark have been shared by football fans worldwide.
Yesterday Chiellini made light of the incident when he posted a picture of him being bitten on the same spot by a hotel maid.
As well as biting players, Suarez was alleged to have racially abused Manchester United’s French defender Patrice Evra during a Premier League match in 2011.
He was banned for eight matches and fined £40,000 and was then handed a further one-match ban for making a gesture at Fulham fans. When Liverpool played Manchester United in the return match that season he refused to shake Evra’s hand before the game.
Suarez said in the past that he was ashamed of his predilection for biting: “Obviously, it’s not the most attractive image that I can have for myself. But that’s not what I want to be remembered for. I want to do things right. I really, really do.”
Yesterday the Uruguayan FA president, Wilmar Valdez, said the association would appeal against the latest Suarez sanctions.
He said: “We are preparing our appeal now, and we have three days to do it. It is an excessive decision and there was not enough evidence and I have seen more aggressive incidents recently. It is a severe punishment.”