By: Gina Mason
So far, the World Cup has not disappointed fans. With unbelievable goals, exhilarating overtime matches and a sea of passionate and patriotic fans, the World Cup has truly lived up to the four year hype (and it’s not over yet!). However, there has been one questionable incident that left fans shaking their heads in disbelief and asking each other, “Did that really just happen?”
The incident that I am referring to happened last week when Uruguay’s star forward Luis Suárez took a bite out of his opponent…literally! Near the 80th minute of play in the Uruguay vs. Italy game, Suárez and Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini collided near the penalty area and fell to the ground. Chiellini began frantically yelling and pulling down his shirt to reveal marks on his shoulder while Suárez grabbed his teeth in pain. Although at first it seemed be accidental, the deep bite marks on Cheillini’s shoulder said otherwise. Following the game, Suárez claimed that he had “fallen” into Chiellini, but anyone watching the game unfold could clearly see the bite marks and odd actions by Suárez on the instant reply. Although no immediate actions were taken by the referees during the game, Suárez was punished by FIFA a few days later. He was handed a suspension for nine (international) Uruguay matches, four months from all football (overall) and was fined 100,000 Swiss francs ($112,000).
In an attempt to repair his image, Suárez issued a public apology on his Facebook and Twitter account:
“After several days of being home with my family, I have had the opportunity to regain my calm and reflect about the reality of what occurred during the Italy-Uruguay match on 24 June 2014.
Independent from the fallout and the contradicting declarations that have surfaced during these past days, all of which have been without the intention of interfering with the good performance of my national team, the truth is that my colleague Giorgio Chiellini suffered the physical result of a bite in the collision he suffered with me. For this:
• I deeply regret what occurred
• I apologize to Giorgio Chiellini and the entire football family
• I vow to the public that there will never again be another incident like this.”
This is a pretty standard PR apology and it seems to contradict his previous statement of “falling into Chiellini.” Also, I found his apology to be slightly disingenuous especially considering that in a previous incident he posted a video apologizing where he appeared to be very remorseful.
The most interesting thing to be about this whole situation is that given his previous history of unsportsmanlike conduct, it is surprising he has been able to compete at all. After all, he has a pretty long rap sheet of indiscretions including several other incidents where he bit an opponent. (You don’t get the nickname “The Cannibal” for nothing). To give you some background information, his first biting incident occurred in 2010 in a Dutch league where he bit Otman Bakkal on the collarbone and was subsequently suspended for eight matches. The second incident occurred just last year when he bit Chelsea defender, Branislav Ivanovic in the arm and was suspended for 10 Barclays Premier League games. In addition to biting his opponents, Suárez has a history of showing a lack of sportsmanship by making racist remarks, punching, kicking and/or pulling his opponent’s hair, giving opposing fans “the finger” as well as faking an injury.
It is sad to see such a talented individual behave in such a poor manner during sporting events (especially those on an international stage). Although, unsportsmanlike conduct happens in every sport, it is hard to believe that more serious sanctions have not been placed on him for his actions. I am really interested to see how things will unfold for Suárez and I only hope this will be the end to all of his shameful actions on the field.
You be the judge. What do you think of this situation and his apology? Do you think his apology was sufficient or do you think he should have said more? Do you think FIFA’s sanctions were justified or too harsh? How do you think this is going to affect his marketability moving forward?