Luis Suárez faces FIFA sanctions for allegedly biting opponent Giorgio Chiellini in Tuesday's World Cup game between Italy and Uruguay.
Suárez, who is known both as Uruguay's superstar player and soccer's bad boy, appeared to have bitten Italian defender Chiellini at around the 80th minute of a tense and critical game.
The referee didn't see the bite and no foul was called against Suárez.
But the incident was caught on television and thanks to the Internet, quickly went viral.
Images show both an outraged, slightly shocked Chiellini pulling down his jersey to show the bite mark on his left shoulder and a wincing Suárez holding his front teeth following the incident.
Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder after Luis Suarez bit him this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/fBIaE2PP6J
— Purely Football (@PurelyFootball) June 24, 2014
— Purely Football (@PurelyFootball) June 25, 2014
On Wednesday FIFA officially announced an investigation into the incident:
"FIFA can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the player Luis Suarez of Uruguay following an apparent breach of art. 48 and/or art. 57 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ match Italy-Uruguay played on 24 June 2014. The player and/or the Uruguayan FA are invited to provide with their position and any documentary evidence they deem relevant until 25 June 2014, 5pm, Brasilia time."
A ruling will be announced prior to Uruguay's match up with Colombia on Saturday.
FIFA disciplinary panel member says that the decision on Luis Suarez could be made tonight or by tomorrow.
— World Cup 2014 (@WorldCupPosts) June 25, 2014
Suárez downplayed his actions after the game:
"These are things that happen on the pitch, we were both in the area, he thrust his shoulder into me," he said in Spanish. "These things happen on the pitch, and we don't have to give them so much (importance)."
And yet, if Suárez did indeed bite Chiellini, it wouldn't be the first time the Uruguayan has resorted to such behavior.
The first incident happened in November 2010 when Suárez was playing for Ajax Amsterdam and bit PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal on the shoulder in the Eredivisie. That transgression resulted in a seven-match ban for Suárez.
In April 2013 Suárez earned himself a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic on the shoulder.
Adding to his bad-boy reputation is an October 2011 incident in which Suárez was charged with racially insulting Manchester United's Patrice Evra, resulting in an eight-match ban.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez says he'll defend Suárez: "I want to say that if he's attacked, as it has begun in this press conference, we'll also defend him, because this is a football World Cup, not of cheap morality."
Thanks for coming and supporting me as always. You give me more energy than everyone else!! I love you a lot!! pic.twitter.com/jOHJkNfJGl
— Luis Suarez (@luis16suarez) June 24, 2014
Uruguay team caption Diego Lugano chose to focus instead on Chiellini's actions: "The worst of all was Chiellini's attitude ... as sportsmen leaving the field, crying and appealing against a rival."
“It doesn’t bother me, so long as he isn’t suspended," said a fan. “Did you see what the Italians did to us and what they’ve done in the past? This isn’t a game for little girls.”
Not everyone is so willing to overlook the biting incident, as is evidenced by the slew of memes on Twitter:
Luis Suarez's official statement. pic.twitter.com/uszGTZQUui
— Sunday League (@SundayShoutsFC) June 25, 2014
— Sharknado (@SharknadoSyfy) June 25, 2014
Finally found a Luis Suarez image that hasn't been photoshopped. pic.twitter.com/MIjYX2vzk6
— Jason Kent (@JKent__) June 25, 2014
New movie being released this summer starring luis suarez!! pic.twitter.com/ew8fZCAQDa
— 3b Paul (@PaulSantangelo) June 25, 2014
Luis Suárez having a pre-match nap. Thanks to Steve, Conor and Jamie for various vampire-related suggestions. pic.twitter.com/rvmLOM0Iag
— Jim'll Paint It (@Jimllpaintit) June 25, 2014
Image via Wikimedia Commons