It was all just an ac­ci­dent – Suarez

Taranaki Daily News - - Sport -

Luis Suarez told Fifa’s dis­ci­plinary panel that he did not de­lib­er­ately bite Italy de­fender Gior­gio Chiellini at the World Cup.

The Uruguay striker’s de­fence that he lost bal­ance and fell on his op­po­nent will now be pre­sented to Fifa’s ap­peal panel, af­ter his na­tional fed­er­a­tion no­ti­fied Fifa at the weekend it would chal­lenge the nine-match, four-month ban.

‘‘In no way it hap­pened how you have de­scribed, as a bite or in­tent to bite,’’ Suarez wrote in Span­ish in a let­ter dated June 25.

The player’s de­fence is in para­graph six of Fifa’s dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee rul­ing, which has been seen by The As­so­ci­ated Press.

‘‘Af­ter the im­pact . . . I lost my bal­ance, mak­ing my body un­sta­ble and fall­ing on top of my op­po­nent,’’ Suarez wrote in his sub­mis­sion to the panel, which met last week, one day af­ter Uruguay beat Italy 1-0 in a de­ci­sive group­stage match.

‘‘At that mo­ment I hit my face against the player leav­ing a small bruise on my cheek and a strong pain in my teeth,’’ Suarez said.

How­ever, the seven-man panel dis­missed the ar­gu­ment.

The bite was ‘‘de­lib­er­ate, in­ten­tional and with­out provo­ca­tion,’’ the rul­ing stated in para­graph No 26 of the panel’s con­clu­sions.

Suarez was banned for nine Uruguay matches and four months from all foot­ball. He was also fined 100,000 Swiss francs (NZ$127,000).

The panel, chaired by for­mer Switzer­land in­ter­na­tional Clau­dio Sulser, in­cluded mem­bers from the Cook Is­lands, Hong Kong, Pak­istan, Panama, South Africa and Sin­ga­pore.

Yes­ter­day, Fifa con­firmed that for­mal pro­ceed­ings had be­gun to chal­lenge the long­est ban for a World Cup player in 20 years.

‘‘We have a dec­la­ra­tion that they are plan­ning to ap­peal,’’ Fifa spokes­woman Delia Fischer said.

The Uruguay fed­er­a­tion now has seven days to sub­mit writ­ten grounds for the ap­peal.

Back in Mon­te­v­ideo, Suarez has been wel­comed home as a hero by Uruguay fans.

‘‘I’m writ­ing this mes­sage to ex­press thanks for the out­pour­ing of sup­port and af­fec­tion that I’m get­ting. Both me and my fam­ily re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate it,’’ Suarez said yes­ter­day on his Twit­ter ac­count. ‘‘Thank you very much for be­ing on my side,’’.

Fifa’s dis­ci­plinary rul­ing con­firmed that Suarez’s bite was missed by ref­eree Marco Ro­driguez, of Mex­ico, who ac­knowl­edged the over­sight in his match re­port. So did his two as­sis­tants and the fourth of­fi­cial.

‘‘I haven’t seen the in­ci­dent be­cause the ball was in an­other sec­tor of the pitch,’’ Ro­driguez writes in para­graph No 4 of wit­ness sub­mis­sions in the 11-page doc­u­ment.

Fifa’s ver­dict was wel­comed by Brazil­ian great Pele.

‘‘Fifa’s de­ci­sion was good, it was cor­rect, be­cause they had to set an ex­am­ple,’’ he said. ‘‘If this ex­am­ple hadn’t been given quickly, it could spread [the bad be­hav­iour on the pitch]. This ex­am­ple shouldn’t be copied by any­one. I think it was fair be­cause it serves as a pa­ram­e­ter go­ing for­ward.’’

Photo: REUTERS

Ag­grieved: Luis Suarez says he ‘‘fell on’’ Gior­gio Chiellini’s shoul­der.

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