In a post-match interview, Uruguay striker Luis Suarez brushed off the biting incident that became the main talking point of the Italy-Uruguay World Cup game.
In an interview with Uruguay media, Suarez said:
“These things happen in the box. We were in contact, chest against shoulder, and I got a knock to the eye.”
In an interview with ESPN Brazil, Suarez added “you should not make such a big deal about [these incidents].”
Italy defender and biting victim Giorgio Chiellini was quite forthright in what he said after the match to Sky Sport Italia:
“Suarez is a sneak and he gets away with it because FIFA want their stars to play in the World Cup.
“I’d love to see if they have the courage to use video evidence against him.
“The referee saw the bite mark too, but he did nothing about it.”
Meanwhile, FIFA said it will investigate the incident.
Aside from the controversial incident, it was a horrible game. Like so many intense, World Cup knockout games over the year, it started out irritating and slow, and then quickly escalated into a contentious, infuriating, classless hate-fest that left everyone who watched needing a cold shower afterwards.
Let’s start with Luis Suarez. He bit Giorgio Cheillini. It’s the third time Suarez has bit an opposing player on the field – once in Holland for Ajax, once in England for Liverpool, and now once at the World Cup for Uruguay.
He’s covered his tracks, you have to give him that. The third time is the charm. Ban him for the World Cup. Then ban him for life.
We’ll be hearing about the fallout from this latest incident for the rest of the World Cup, just as we’ll be seeing the image of Cheillini’s shoulder peppered with teeth marks until well after the final.
Zinedine Zidane has company. Suarez’s biting will be a pop-culture reference and touchstone incident in football history for years to come. But while Zidane made one terrible decision after intense goading, Suarez’s biting is a saga that has to stop.
This wasn’t a league game. This was the World Cup. And just as the scope was hitting Italy for the first time, Diego Godin rose up to head Uruguay into the second round of the World Cup and send Italy home.
In case you’re also coping with the scope for the first time, that’s the end of Andrea Pirlo at the World Cup. That’s the end of Gianluigi Buffon. And one of the classiest men in football, Italy manager Cesare Prandelli – a man who resigned as manager of Roma to care for his ailing wife almost ten years ago – has resigned from Italy.
Of course, set piece marking appears to have nothing to do with an off-ball controversy minutes before. But mentally, it had an effect. It had to.
Godin is a fitting man to get the winner, since he should have been suspended for this game if he was rightfully sent-off against England.
The will of karma is nothing against the dark powers of the Uruguay national football team.
Italy weren’t saints. With their back against the wall, they never are. Their time wasting tactics were frustrating to watch, and Claudio Marchisio never should have given the referee the option to send him off after a tackle to the knee of Cristian Rodriguez – even if the straight red for a standing tackle was soft.
For the Italians, the manner of their exit rankles, but you could see it coming. Italy have only won one of their last ten games, including friendlies, World Cup qualifying, and the World Cup itself.
In the big tournament, Italy have only won one of their last nine games in normal time.
The problem for Italy was talent. Prandelli struggled to make his team play like Juventus, who he drew most of his starting lineup from, because he didn’t have most of Juve’s best players.
Arturo Vidal, Fernando Llorente, Carlos Tevez, and Kwado Asamoah all aren’t Italian. Outside of Pirlo – who was brilliant, Italy’s only hope when chasing a goal in the last ten minutes – Buffon, and Mario Balotelli, Italy didn’t have great players.
Daniele De Rossi and Marchisio are both solid, but beyond those five; Italy have a very average squad. They lacked any attacking spark.
Much of that lies at the feet of Mario Balotelli, so often Suarez’s equal for headlines. This time, Suarez’s lunacy did him a favor. Balotelli was in this must-have and looked more likely to get sent-off than score. He only lasted 45 minutes.
There’s nothing more Prandelli could have done. Noble as ever, he resigned after the match, as did the President of the Italian FA – who has said that he hopes the remaining FA can persuade Prandelli to reconsider his position.
One look back at Italy’s 2006 championship winning team shows you the extent of Italy’s problems. Their players aren’t good enough anymore.
Still, if you could count on any team to get a crunch 0-0 draw, it would be Italy – and they were doing just fine until that bite.
The result is that a World Cup that has been emboldened by such positivity as Miguel Herrera and Jurgen Klinsmann’s sideline celebrations, the return of flying wingbacks, the success of overly attacking teams like Chile, Columbia, and Germany, and a series of simply sensational soccer games, has been permanently blighted.
Uruguay’s carnage over the last four years is remarkable: Ghana, and the hopes of Africa in 2010, and they’ve already dubiously eliminated England and Italy in this tournament.
Again: We lose Pirlo, Buffon, Prandelli, and maybe more because of Uruguay. Whether Diego Godin scores that header if Suarez doesn’t bite Cheillini, we’ll never know.
If the referee, on the other hand, had seen Suarez’s bite and sent him off, Uruguay would never have won that corner in the next minute of the game. That’s for certain.
Debate will rage over Suarez and what to do with him. But remember this: A bite, even from a vampire, doesn’t hurt. It’s the horrible fallout that kills.