The Luis Suarez Bites: Chronicling the Uruguayan's toothy history
Uruguayan Luiz Suarez has been a controversial figure throughout his professional football career. The current Barcelona forward has been suspended numerous times over the years for his antics on the pitch, most notable of which are the biting incidents that have brought him worldwide notoreity.
Suarez signed with Liverpool in 2011 on a club record fee after he was stripped of his captaincy by Ajax and later was signed by Barcelona, again on a club record fee. The most interesting fact is that on both occasions, he was still serving his suspension at the time the record transfers were made.
In addition to his toothy escapades, the ex-Liverpool forward has been involved in many other controversies too, which include his ‘Hand of God’ handball against Ghana at the 2010 World Cup and the racial abuse allegations against Manchester United’s Patrice Evra in the 2011 Premier League season.
4 years, 3 teams, 3 bites and 3 suspensions
But the most shocking and newsworthy Suarez controversies have been his bites. He has bitten the opposition players, not on one occasion but on three different ones, and that too in a span of four years, while representing three different teams.
The first instance of his biting took place in 2010 while he was representing Netherlands-based club Ajax. The incident happened in an Eredivisie match between bitter rivals Ajax and PSV, where Referee Bjorn Kuipers sent off Ajax midfielder Rasmus Lindgren for a tackle on PSV’s Ibrahim Afellay. In the heat of the moment, the cameras caught Suarez biting PSV’s Otman Bakkal, although Kuipers did not see the act.
The Uruguayan was banned for seven matches following the incident by KNVB, and Ajax refused to appeal the ban. This suspension meant that Suarez was stripped of his captaincy, and he subsequently asked for a move away from Netherlands.
The second instance came in 2013 while he was playing for Liverpool in a Premier League clash against Chelsea at Anfield. While Chelsea led the game 2-1, the then Liverpool forward bit Branislav Ivanovic’s right arm. However, referee Kevin Friend failed to spot the incident against, and so did not send Suarez off.
Later, the English FA handed Suarez a 10-game suspension and a hefty fine.
The shocking and most infamous third bite
The third and last known occurrence of a Suarez bite took place while he was representing Uruguay at the 2014 World Cup, in a group D match against Italy. During a mid-pitch scuffle, the striker sank his teeth into Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini on his right shoulder with the score tied 0-0. Of course, this incident took place within a year of his previous offence against Chelsea.
Suarez was handed a worldwide ban from all football-related activities for a total of four months, plus nine international matches, as well as a fine of £66,000. In addition to being banned from playing competitive football, he was disallowed from training with his teammates and even entering a football stadium.
That didn’t affect his market value though. In July 2014, Suarez signed for Spanish team Barcelona for a fee of £75m. And at his unveiling a month later, he promised to never bite another human being.
Liverpool owner John W. Henry describing Suarez in a sentence said: "He is a good person 99 percent of the time, and 1 percent of the time his desire to win overcomes everything else.” It’s hard to disagree with that!