Uruguayan players, coaches, and media are closing ranks around Luis Suarez after he bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in a World Cup game — the third such biting incident of his controversy-plagued career.
Team captain Diego Lugano told reporters “you have to be stupid” to think Suarez actually bit Chiellini. He said the apparent bite mark on Chiellini’s shoulder — which the Italian futilely showed the ref after the incident — was an old scar.
Lugano also told the Telegraph that Chiellini is a “snitch” and no one ever bit him:
“I’ve just watched the TV images and I didn’t see anything. What I saw was a struggle and a photo of Chiellini which showed an old scar. You have to be stupid to imagine that scar is recent, very stupid.
“If Chiellini spoke about that after the match then he broke every dressing room code and I never thought an Italian would be such a snitch off the pitch. It would have been more manly to accept defeat and correct mistakes made.”
Here’s the bite mark in question:
Chiellini said after the game that Suarez was a sneak and the referee ignored the bite mark because FIFA wants its stars to play in the World Cup.
Still, Uruguay is having none of it.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez brushed off the incident, saying Suarez was the “preferred target” of the English press.
He added, “This is a football World Cup, not about morality, cheap morality.”
Suarez himself didn’t apologise and denied that it was a bite. He said to reporters after the match (via ESPN):
“These are just things that happen out on the pitch. It was just the two of us inside the area and he bumped into me with his shoulder, and that’s how my eye got like this as well. There are things that happen on the pitch and you should not make such a big deal out of them.”
As the European and American media call for a lengthy ban, the Uruguay media is going the opposite direction.
One article in El Observador suggested that the bite mark photo was Photoshopped. Another article, about FIFA’s investigation into the incident, closed with the sentence, “The media, especially English — even more than the Italians — has already started the campaign against the Uruguayan.”
The evidence against Suarez appears to be overwhelming: It looked like a clear bite in multiple camera angles, Chiellini says he was bitten, and there’s a bite mark on his shoulder.
Here’s the bite again:
Considering Suarez’s history of biting, it’s hard to give him the benefit of the doubt. But that’s exactly what his team is doing.
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