“Bitegate” Casts Black Eye on World Cup

Last week, Luis Suarez was a hero after scoring both Uruguayan goals to defeat England, knocking the British out of the World Cup. He was lauded for his incredibly fast recovery from knee surgery and his comeback was one of the feel-good stories of the tournament at the time.

How quickly things can change.

Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy yesterday afternoon was overshadowed by star striker Luis Suarez’s actions late in the game. With the game still scoreless in the 80th minute, Suarez bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in the shoulder. No cards were issued, even as Chiellini showed the bite marks to referee Marco Rodriguez, who is ironically nicknamed “Dracula” because of his resemblance to the Transylvanian character.

This wasn’t Suarez’s first biting incident during a game; it was actually his third in the last four years. In 2010, with Holland club Ajax, he received a seven-game suspension for biting a PSV Eindhoven player on the shoulder. Last year, with Liverpool, he was suspended ten games for biting Chelsea player Branislov Ivanovic on the arm. Now, he’s found himself at the center of controversy once again for arguably the most high-profile incident in World Cup play since France’s Zinedine Zidane headbutted Italy’s Marco Materazzi in the 2006 Final.

Both FIFA and the English Premier League need to send a message to Suarez that next time he’s hungry, he better get a bite of food and not another player’s skin. There is no place for such disrespectful actions in the sport, and his suspension should reflect that, especially since he’s a repeat offender. Therefore, FIFA should suspend Suarez for 12 matches. A 12-match suspension is half of the maximum 24-game ban (which will not happen in this case), but is still enough to ensure Suarez is out of international competition for quite a while. In addition, the English Premier League, where Suarez plays with Liverpool FC, should suspend him for five games. The incident didn’t happen in EPL play, so another 10-game ban isn’t going to happen, but it would be irresponsible to let Suarez step right back on the field again with Liverpool after the World Cup is over. A five-game ban from club play definitely seems fair. If he switches to a team in another league in the transfer window, the same ban should apply.

Suspensions are not enough, however. Suarez must undergo counseling, because he needs to learn from it this time; whatever anger management classes he took after biting Ivanovic clearly didn’t help. There’s something seriously wrong with him, and maybe a professional is needed to figure out what it is. Biting isn’t the only egregious thing Suarez has done on the field; he racially abused Patrice Evra in a Premier League game, repeatedly referring to the color of Evra’s skin and calling him “Blackie” and “Negro.” He’s not only embarrassing himself, he’s embarrassing his family and letting down his entire country as well. There have been no apologies issued to date and there’s been no remorse; he legitimately thinks he hasn’t done anything wrong.

An adult biting someone is one of the most repulsive and asinine things that could happen in our society. It makes the biter look like an animal who cannot control their undomesticated instincts, and in this case, it happened on soccer’s biggest stage. Time for Luis Suarez to get domesticated before he steps foot on a soccer field again.

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