Liverpool and Uruguay striker Luis Suarez could be banned from football for up to two years after he was accused of biting an opponent during last night’s World Cup win over Italy.
Defender Giorgio Chiellini called Suarez “a sneak” and urged governing body Fifa to use video evidence against the 27-year-old, who dismissed the notion he had bitten his opponent.
Chiellini reacted furiously after the pair clashed in the Italy penalty box, tugging his shirt down to show referee Marcos Rodriguez what he claimed were bite marks on his shoulder.
But Suarez said: “These things happen in the box. We were in contact, chest against shoulder, and I got a knock to the eye, nothing more.”
It is the third major biting row to embroil Suarez. He was banned for 10 games for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in April 2013 and served a seven-match suspension for a similar offence at former club Ajax in 2010.
Fifa rules state that the maximum ban it can levy is 24 games or two years, if Suarez is found guilty. The toughest sanction it has issued for an offence during a World Cup was in 1994, when Italy’s Mauro Tassotti received an eight-match suspension for an elbow that broke the nose of Spain’s Luis Enrique.
“We are awaiting the official match reports and will gather all the necessary elements in order to evaluate the matter,” Fifa said.
The controversy overshadowed a result that sent Uruguay into the knockout stage of the tournament and condemned Italy to a first-round exit from Group D, along with England.
Centre-back Diego Lugano headed the winning goal from a corner in the 81st minute, just seconds after the alleged bite. Italy had earlier seen midfielder Claudio Marchisio sent off.
At first it appeared that Suarez had tried to headbutt Chiellini, though replays from different angles suggested contact between the Uruguayan’s face and the Italian’s shoulder. Suarez fell to the ground and held his mouth, while Chiellini rushed to berate ref Rodriguez, whose nickname, in a freakish twist, is Dracula.
Chiellini said: “It was ridiculous not to send Suarez off. It is clear. Then, there was the obvious dive afterwards because he knew very well that he did something he shouldn’t have.
“Suarez is a sneak and gets away with it because Fifa want their big stars to play in the World Cup. I’d love to see if they have the courage to use video evidence against him.”
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli, who resigned following the defeat, said: “I didn’t see the images of Suarez but I did see the bite marks.”