Uruguay superstar Luis Suarez was embroiled in another biting controversy Tuesday when he appeared to sink his teeth into Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder in a World Cup group game.
Faced with a smothering and frustrating Italian defense, Suarez got tangled in front of the Italy goal with Chiellini in the 80th minute. The apparent bite was caught by television cameras, the incident became a worldwide sensation and it could lead to Suarez being kicked out of the World Cup. The referee didn't see a bite, and no foul was called despite Chiellini's pleading and pulling down his jersey to show a red mark on his shoulder.
One minute later, Diego Godin scored the only goal in Uruguay's 1-0 victory.
Early Wednesday, FIFA said its disciplinary committee opened proceedings against Suarez. If the panel finds Suarez guilty of assaulting an opponent, FIFA rules call for a ban of at least two matches up to a maximum of 24 months.
FIFA asked the team to present evidence later in the day.
A decision must be published before Saturday, when Uruguay plays Colombia in the round of 16.
Suarez's two prior biting incidents triggered a seven-game suspension in 2010 with his club team in the Netherlands and a 10-game suspension last year with Liverpool in the English Premier League.
Suarez didn't confirm or deny the bite after the Italy game. “These are things that happen on the pitch, we were both in the area, he thrust his shoulder into me,” Suarez told reporters in Spanish. “These things happen on the pitch, and we don't have to give them so much [importance].”
Suarez, 27, had a league-leading 31 goals for Liverpool last season, even though he had feuds with teammates and management in addition to his suspension. He was named the EPL's player of the year.
Suarez was suspended and fined by the EPL for a racially charged insult directed at a foe in 2011. And he cannot shed the reputation of a notorious diver, exaggerating contact in an attempt to draw a penalty.
Should Suarez be suspended, Uruguay will be without its most dangerous scorer. Suarez, who had knee surgery last month, sat out Uruguay's World Cup opener, a 3-1 loss to Costa Rica. He scored twice in a 2-1 win over England on Thursday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
2:08 p.m.: Adds information regarding FIFA inquiry into Suarez-Chiellini incident.
9:25 p.m.: Story has been updated with information about FIFA's disciplinary committee opening proceedings against Suarez.