Will FIFA suspend Luis Suarez for biting at World Cup? History says yes.


(Getty Images)

FIFA’s disciplinary panel is weighing whether to suspend Uruguay’s Luis Suarez for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in the 80th minute of Tuesday’s match, a 1-0 win for the Uruguayans that sent them into the round of 16 and sent Italy home. According to the governing body’s disciplinary rules, Suarez can be suspended for up to 24 matches or two years — starting with Uruguay’s round-of-16 match against Colombia on Saturday — if a video review of the evidence shows that he attacked Chiellini.


FIFA President Sepp Blatter is a proponent of using video review for disciplinary matters — per the AP, “Video evidence can contribute greatly to fair play, provided the sport’s disciplinary bodies are prepared to use it — and they should,” Blatter wrote in his column in FIFA’s weekly magazine in February — and if history is any indication, Suarez could be facing a lengthy suspension.

The longest punishment for an on-field action at the World Cup came in 1994, when Italy’s Mauro Tassotti broke the nose of Spain’s Luis Enrique in the quarterfinals with his elbow. FIFA suspended Tassotti for eight games (though Enrique later said the punishment was excessive and that he would have been fine with a simple apology).

Also in 1994, Brazilian left back Leonardo threw a vicious elbow at U.S. midfielder Tab Ramos in the round of 16, breaking a bone in Ramos’s skull and leading to a lengthy hospital stay. He was suspended for four games — the second-longest World Cup suspension — and missed the rest of the event, which Brazil won.

In the 2006 World Cup final, France’s Zinedine Zidane infamously head-butted Italy’s Marco Materazzi. He received a red card and a three-match suspension from FIFA, though he retired after the match and never served it, instead completing three days of community service for a FIFA humanitarian project.

This year, FIFA suspended Cameroon midfielder Alex Song for three games after he elbowed Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic in the back.


In the realm of unpunished attacks, FIFA did not sanction West German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher for his flying, studs-first leap at France’s Patrick Battison in the 1982 semifinals, which left Battison in a coma, knocked out some teeth and damaged his vertebra.

Suarez’s bite seems just as egregious — -perhaps more so — than any of these incidents. It would be stunning if FIFA let him play another game in Brazil.

As for when we’ll find out, it doesn’t sound like it will be Wednesday.

More from the World Cup:

Uruguay's Luis Suarez is not the first player to bite an opponent. From boxer Mike Tyson to former NHL player Claude Lemieux, here are some memorable times when athletes got the munchies. (Tom LeGro/The Washington Post)

Revisit all of Tuesday’s action in the World Cup live blog

Is FIFA doing enough to treat concussions in soccer?

Jermaine Jones’s present and past will collide vs. Germany

Klinsmann says World Cup scheduling has U.S .at disadvantage

Video: How the U.S. can advance to the knockout round

CONCACAF teams are serving notice

Thousands of American soccer fans make Brazil feel like home

Scores and schedule | Group standings | Stats leaders

After spending the first 17 years of his Post career writing and editing, Matt and the printed paper had an amicable divorce in 2014. He's now blogging and editing for the Early Lead and the Post's other Web-based products.
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David Larimer · June 25, 2014