NATAL, Brazil – Luis Suarez faces the prospect of a long ban after shocking the World Cup with a new biting storm on Tuesday as Uruguay dumped Italy out of the tournament.
Uruguay captain Diego Godin headed home an 81st-minute goal to secure a 1-0 in a gritty Group D battle that saw Italy eliminated in the first round for the second straight World Cup.
But Italy's stunning exit was overshadowed by an incredible incident involving Suarez – already banned twice before for biting opponents – just moments before Godin's winner.
Television replays showed Suarez appearing to attempt to sink his teeth into Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder in an off-the-ball incident.
Chiellini angrily remonstrated with Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez, pulling his shirt off his shoulder to show red marks on his neck.
Afterwards a disgusted Chiellini told Italian television: "He bit me, it's clear, I still have the mark."
"The referee should have blown his whistle and given him a red card," he added.
Suarez sought to play down the incident in comments to Uruguayan television, claiming Chiellini had barged him.
"There are things that happen on the pitch and you should not make such a big deal out of them," Suarez said.
Tabarez 'didn't see' bite
Uruguay's veteran manager Oscar Tabarez pleaded ignorance of the incident.
"I didn't see it. I'd like to see the images first," he told a press conference. Tabarez also suggested Suarez was being victimised by journalists.
"He is the preferred target for a lot of media," Tabarez said.
Pressed on the issue, a visibly irritated Tabarez refused to condemn Suarez. "This is a football World Cup, it's not about cheap morality."
But despite Suarez's comments, video evidence of the incident appears damning.
FIFA said it would study the referee's report and the match video.
"We are awaiting the official match reports and will gather all the necessary elements in order to evaluate the matter," FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer said.
But other senior officials wasted no time in condemning the striker.
"There is no doubt Luis Suarez is a fantastic footballer but once again his actions have left him open to severe criticism," FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce told the BBC. "FIFA must investigate this incident very seriously and take whatever action is deemed necessary."
FIFA Executive Committee member Michel D'Hooghe said Suarez should face a hearing.— AFP