RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Luis Suarez was embroiled in another biting controversy on Tuesday when the Uruguay striker appeared to sink his teeth into Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder in a crucial World Cup group game.
It is the latest in a long list of contentious moments in the career of the talented but hot-headed forward, who has twice before been punished for biting an opponent in a game and was also banned for racist abuse.
Here are five controversies involving the 27-year-old Liverpool player:
BITE NO. 1
Suarez was banned for seven matches in 2010 while playing for Dutch club Ajax after TV replays showed him biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal in a league match.
The referee missed the incident and Suarez was not punished during the game but Bakkal pulled his shirt down afterward to show a red mark on his shoulder — a similar place to where Suarez appeared to bite Italy’s Chiellini at the World Cup on Tuesday.
At the time, Suarez still had a suspended one-match ban hanging over him following a red card in that season’s opening game. The incident earned him the nickname “Cannibal of Ajax” in the Netherlands.
BITE NO. 2
Three years later in 2013, Suarez — now playing for Liverpool — was slapped with a 10-match ban in the English Premier League for biting the arm of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic. It was one of the most severe punishments handed out by the league for an on-field offense and a disciplinary panel said a regular three-match suspension for violent conduct was “clearly insufficient.”
Again, the referee missed the incident as Suarez bit Ivanovic on the upper arm during the 2-2 draw. However, it was seen by millions of viewers on TV replays and British Prime Minister David Cameron waded into the controversy by saying the Uruguayan had set an “appalling” example for young fans.
Suarez eventually released a statement saying “I acknowledge that my actions were not acceptable on the football pitch.”
BITE NO. 3?
For the third time, Suarez was accused of biting an opponent when he appeared to dig his teeth into Chiellini’s shoulder in Tuesday’s World Cup group game in Brazil between Uruguay and Italy. For the third time, the referee failed to pick up the incident but TV replays may again be the downfall of Suarez.
Suarez was blocked off by Chiellini while going for the ball in the penalty area and then appeared to bury his mouth in the Italian’s shoulder. Both players went down, with Suarez holding his mouth. Chiellini also pulled down his shirt to show an apparent mark on his left shoulder. About a minute later, Uruguay scored for a 1-0 win to eliminate Italy.
Chiellini said the referee not sending off Suarez was “ridiculous.”
“It was absolutely clear,” he said of the bite. “There’s even a mark.”
In 2011, Suarez received an eight-match ban and was fined $62,000 for racially abusing French defender Patrice Evra in a Liverpool vs. Manchester United game. England’s Football Association found that Suarez had called Evra, a black player, a “Negro” or “Negros” seven times during the game.
Suarez said that he would accept the punishment reluctantly but maintained his comments had been lost in translation. At the start of the next game between the fierce English club rivals, Suarez refused to shake Evra’s hand, forcing his club to apologize for that too.
At the last World Cup in 2010, Suarez was guilty of pulling off one of the most glaring professional fouls ever at the tournament when he intentionally stopped a goal-bound header from Ghana with his hand late in extra time of their quarterfinal in South Africa, which likely would have given Ghana victory.
Suarez, who was sent off, hung around near the tunnel to watch Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan miss the penalty and then celebrated frantically, enraging neutral fans. Uruguay ultimately won in a shootout to go through to the semifinals.
Suarez later boasted of his cheating: “Truth is it was worth it.”
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