The Luis Suarez Bite

On the 21st April 2013, during a match against Chelsea, television cameras captured Liverpool striker Luis Suárez biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic as they tussled in the Chelsea penalty area.

The incident occurred off the ball, it was only Ivanovic’s protestations that brought closer inspection to what otherwise seemed like an innocuous coming together, and television coverage soon discovered the reason he was so incensed.

However, the bite went unnoticed by the match officials, and Suárez, unpunished, went on to score an injury-time equalizer, much to the chagrin of the Chelsea fans.

Having just been named on the shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year award, the incident was the latest reminder that Suárez’s undoubted talent will seemingly always be overshadowed by his indiscretions. In his time in English soccer, Suárez had already faced allegations of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, as well as constant accusations of diving – something he acknowledged with a celebratory flop after scoring against Everton.

Bafflingly, Suárez has history with exactly this kind of act; he was in the midst of a seven-game suspension for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal when he signed for Liverpool from Ajax.

Unsurprisingly, the Ivanovic incident became national news, and Suárez was quickly handed a ten-game suspension from the FA as punishment, a ban that wiped out the remainder of the 2012-13 season for Suárez, carrying four games over into the following campaign.

Many balked at the extent of the punishment, given that smaller bans have been administered for more violent offences. However, the FA claimed in their 21-page rationale that Suárez did not seem to appreciate the seriousness of the offense, and that played a part in their decision-making.

Suárez was quick to issue an apology via his Twitter account, writing “I’m sad for what happened this afternoon, I apologise [to] Ivanovic and all football world for my inexcusable behaviour. I’m so sorry about it!!”

Liverpool were also quick to admonish his actions, perhaps mindful of the criticism the club faced when they did not take such steadfast action in the race row surrounding Suárez and Evra. Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre stated, “His behaviour is not befitting of any player wearing a Liverpool shirt and Luis is aware that he has let himself and everyone associated with the club down.”

Suárez and his agent later claimed that the player was unfairly targeted by the English press and the FA, seemingly hoping to parlay these claims into a lucrative move away from Anfield.

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