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Uruguay tops Italy amid biting controversy at World Cup

NATAL, Brazil — The most ruthless soccer players often use their hands or elbows or knees to rough up opposing players. The most reckless — or dirtiest — might even use their cleats.

Then there is Luis Suarez.

Suarez, a Uruguayan striker who has emerged as one of the best players in the world over the past year, is a biter. And, it seems, a serial one.

For the third time in his career, Suarez faces potential punishment for sinking his teeth into an opponent. This time it happened at the World Cup, during Uruguay's 1-0 victory over Italy on Tuesday.

Late Tuesday, the sport's governing body, FIFA, charged Suarez with biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini, a process that could lead to a suspension. FIFA announced that its disciplinary committee had opened proceedings against Suarez hours after the end of the match.

If the panel finds Suarez guilty of assaulting an opponent, FIFA rules call for a ban of anywhere from two matches to 24 months.

FIFA asked the team to present evidence, which can include video recordings, today. A decision must be published before Saturday, when Uruguay plays Colombia in the Round of 16 in Rio de Janeiro.

In the 80th minute Tuesday, Suarez bumped Chiellini while jockeying for position in the penalty area, then dropped his head into Chiellini's left shoulder. Chiellini recoiled as both fell.

The scene was surreal: The referee — Mexican Marco Rodriguez, whose nickname is "Dracula" — did not notice and paid no mind to Chiellini's attempts to pull his collar aside to show what appeared right away to be bite marks on his left shoulder.

Moments later, Uruguay captain Diego Godin scored the only goal. The 1-0 victory eliminated Italy and made certain the Suarez incident would be an unappetizing chapter in soccer history.

Suarez has twice been disciplined for biting opponents in league games and has also been banned for making racist remarks toward an opponent.

"These are things that happen on the pitch," Suarez said, neither confirming nor denying a bite. "We were both in the area. He thrust his shoulder into me. These things happen on the pitch, and we don't have to give them so much (importance)."

Suarez, 27, should be celebrating a career year. He won the scoring title with 31 goals for Liverpool and was named English Premier League player of the year.

He tried to rebrand himself as a family man after the birth of his two children, a son and daughter.

Italian coach Cesare Prandelli, who also announced his resignation, saying that while he did not see the bite, he "did see the bite marks on Chiellini's shoulder."

"It's a shame," Prandelli said. "It's a real shame."

COSTA RICA 0, ENGLAND 0: Costa Rica finished first in perhaps the toughest group with a tie against England's backups in Belo Horizonte. It needed only a draw to top Group D and played that way, up in a defensive 5-3-2 formation. England had been eliminated.

"Some people didn't believe this was possible," Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto said through a translator. "It makes me feel proud, and our players deserve recognition. We will keep this style and philosophy so people don't say this is just luck."

GREECE 2, IVORY COAST 1: Georgios Samaras scored an injury-time penalty to put Greece into the second round in Fortaleza. Samaras was adjudged to have been brought down by substitute Giovanni Sio, and Samaras slotted in the spot kick as the Greeks advanced for the first time. "This means so much to me, to us. … Tonight we had energy," Samaras said, dedicating the win to Greeks suffering through financial crisis.

COLOMBIA 4, JAPAN 1: Substitute James Rodriguez scored a brilliant goal and set up two for Jackson Martinez in Cuiaba as Colombia finished Group C with a perfect record. The Colombians started with a virtual second-string lineup but went in front when Juan Cuadrado, one of the few regular starters, drilled in a 17th-minute penalty.

Today's schedule

Argentina vs. Nigeria, noon, ESPN

Bosnia-Herz. vs. Iran, noon, ESPN2

France vs. Ecuador, 4 p.m., ESPN

Honduras vs. Switzerland 4, ESPN2

Controversies surround Suarez

Luis Suarez was embroiled in another controversy Tuesday as the Uruguayan striker was charged by FIFA with biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during a 1-0 victory over Italy. It is the latest in a long list of contentious moments for Suarez:

• He was banned for seven matches in 2010 while playing for Ajax after TV replays showed him biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal in a Dutch league match. The referee missed the bite, which earned Suarez the nickname "Cannibal of Ajax" in the Netherlands.

• Also in 2010, his deliberate handball in the final seconds of extra time prevented Ghana from scoring during its World Cup quarterfinal. He drew a red card, Ghana missed the ensuing penalty kick and Uruguay won in PKs.

• In 2011 Suarez, now with Liverpool, was banned for eight matches and fined $62,000 after England's Football Association ruled he racially abused Manchester United's Patrice Evra, who is black. At the start of the next game between the rivals, Suarez refused to shake Evra's hand, forcing Liverpool to apologize for that, too.

• In 2013 Suarez got a 10-match ban for biting the arm of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic. The referee missed it, but millions of TV viewers saw it on replays.

• Tuesday, moments after Suarez clashed with Chiellini, replays indicated that he appeared to dig his teeth into Chiellini's left shoulder. Yet again the referee failed to pick up the incident even after Chiellini pulled his jersey top down over left shoulder to try to show a mark.

Uruguay tops Italy amid biting controversy at World Cup 06/24/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 12:43am]

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