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Suarez saga: overdone or undercooked?

Luis Suarez biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic - and has done it again, this time at the 2014 World Cup. (Image via SkySport)
Roar Pro
25th June, 2014
29

It seems Luis Suarez has done it again. Not content with the more obscure cuisines of Serbian (Branislav Ivanovic) and Dutch (Otman Bakkal), Suarez went mainstream by apparently taking a nibble on the Italian shoulder of Giorgio Chiellini.

The uproar has been instant, and inevitable.

His priors saw him banned for seven and ten games respectively. If found guilty, Suarez will most likely become the new record holder for longest ban in World Cup history (currently eight games, handed to Mauro Tassotti in 1994 for elbowing).

That may not be enough for some – Danny Mills has called for “the longest ban on the planet”, which according to FIFA can be 24 games or two years. Going further, my Facebook feed observed the odd “banned for life” status, and commenters on The Roar have been in favour of a lengthy ban.

Clearly, Suarez’s bites have elicited a lot of anger in the football community. This is certainly not an article of defence, but it is one of curiosity.

What is it, fellow Roarers, that makes biting so abhorrent?

Suarez did not racially abuse Chiellini – a crime considered worthy of eight matches on the pine to Suarez himself, and four to John Terry.

Suarez did not scythe Chiellini to the point of knee surgery ala Kevin Muscat on Adrian Zahra – deemed to be worth eight weeks as well.

He didn’t break Chiellini’s nose – as the aforementioned Tassotti did to Spain’s Luis Enrique.

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One could argue that it comes close to spitting as a form of degradation – the A-League judiciary judged it to be worth five weeks to Dino Djulbic and six (on appeal) to Ney Fabiano, both in 2008.

Switching sports, in 2002 AFL player Peter Filandia received a 10-match ban for biting (and perforating) the scrotum of Chad Davis while playing for Port Melbourne in the VFL. In comparison, Suarez’ bite has the menace of a kiss on the cheek.

So what makes a bite so bad?

Are bad tackles more excusable because they are illegal extensions of a legal act? Is being bitten more or less degrading than being the target of saliva or a slur? Is there a ranking of offence that takes into account intent and injury and produces a ban? Is the uproar because it is the third time Suarez has done it?

Biting in any sport is a ridiculous act that should be punished – even more so in football, when the ball is at one’s feet and mouthguards are deemed unnecessary. But at the same time, I would rather be bitten than greatly insulted or in need of a hospital bed.

At the risk of starting some arguments – what’s it worth, and why?