FIFA has charged Luis Suarez for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in the World Cup’s Group D match on Tuesday.
FIFA said early Wednesday that its disciplinary committee has opened proceedings against the Uruguay forward. If the panel finds Suarez guilty of assaulting an opponent, FIFA rules call for a ban of at least two matches up to a maximum of 24 months.
FIFA asked the team to present evidence by 5 p.m. Wednesday. A decision must be published before Saturday, when Uruguay plays Colombia in a round-of-16 match.
Uruguay advanced by beating Italy 1-0 on Tuesday in Natal. One minute before the decisive goal, Suarez clashed with Chiellini and was caught by television cameras biting his shoulder. Match referee Marco Rodriguez of Mexico appeared not to see the incident and took no action.
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. 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. Article 77 of FIFA’s disciplinary code states the disciplinary committee is responsible for "sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials’ attention" and "rectifying obvious errors in the referee’s disciplinary decisions."
Italy boss Cesare Prandelli — who went on to resign — 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.
"It’s a shame, it’s a real shame that it turned out like this." Chiellini said it was "ridiculous" that Suarez had not been sent off while Italy’s Claudio Marchisio was for a high foot on Arevalo Rios.
Chiellini, who showed the referee the bite marks, said: "The disparity in judgement has been evident. Marchisio’s sending off was ridiculous but more so the fact that Suarez wasn’t sent off. There’s an inclination to protect star players but the referee should have shown him a red card."
Jim Boyce, Britain’s FIFA vice-president and head of FIFA’s referees committee, expressed major concerns about Suarez’s actions.
"I have watched the incident several times on television," said Boyce. "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."