FIFA will thoroughly investigate an allegation of biting an opponent against Luis Suarez during the World Cup match in Brazil between Uruguay and Italy, the head of FIFA’s referee committee, Jim Boyce, confirmed on Tuesday.
The Northern Ireland man who is also Britain’s FIFA vice-president, expressed serious concerns about Suarez’s actions in the crucial Group C match which Uruguay won 2-1 to progress to the knockout round of 16.
It has set up an inriguing clash against Colombia on Sunday but Liverpool striker Suarez could now be facing an abrupt end to his World Cup.
FIFA announced it will investigate the allegedly biting of Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini by Suarez. The striker is likely to face a lengthy ban that would keep him out of the rest of the World Cup - however far his country Uruguay progress - if he is found guilty.
The 27-year-old allegedly left teeth-marks on Chiellini’s shoulder after clashing with him at the end of Uruguay’s 1-0 win in Natal - where FIFA president Sepp Blatter was in attendance - that saw the South Americans qualify for the last 16.
Boyce said: “I have watched the incident several times on television.
“There is no doubt Luis Suarez is a fantastic footballer but, once again, his actions have left him open to severe criticism.
“FIFA must investigate the incident seriously and take whatever disciplinary action deemed necessary.”
FIFA confirmed that they would wait for the official match report and would gather all the necessary elements in order to evaluate the matter.”
FIFA’s disciplinary code sets a maximum ban of 24 matches or two years, but the longest ban in World Cup history was eight games for Italy’s Mauro Tassotti for breaking Spain’s Luis Enrique’s nose in 1994 with an elbow. Zinedine Zidane was given a three-match ban for headbutting Marco Materazzi in the 2006 final.
Suarez has twice been banned for biting opponents - for 10 matches in 2013 for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic and in 2010 he was given a seven-game ban while playing for Ajax for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal.
FIFA’s disciplinary code allows action to be taken retrospectively via video evidence even if the incident has been seen by the referee.
Chiellini told Italian television station Rai TV: “It was ridiculous not to send Suarez off. It is clear, clear-cut.”
Italy boss Cesare Prandelli confirmed he had seen the bite-marks.
He said: “I didn’t see Suarez biting him but I saw the bite-marks on his shoulder but the referee’s assistants were so busy they didn’t see anything.”
Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez claimed Suarez was a target for sections of the media.