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FIFA Probes Whether Uruguay Star Bit Italian Opponent


OK, there is good news but mostly bad news for Uruguay at the World Cup. The good news the country qualified yesterday for the round of 16. The bad news, Uruguay might be going forward without its best player. In a really physical matching against Italy, star striker Luis Suarez appeared to bite his opponent on the shoulder. World soccer's governing body FIFA is investigating the incident and does have the right to sanction Suarez, even though he wasn't penalized during the game for this alleged bite. Joining me now from Recife Brazil, NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Tom good morning.


GREENE: So this doesn't sound very sportsmanlike, what happened here?

GOLDMAN: We're all being responsible and saying it appeared a bite happen as you just said in the second half as Suarez and Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini were jockeying for position. But replay after replay, after replay, after replay clearly shows Suarez head moving down toward Chilellini's shoulder then of course Chiellini appealed to the referee, pulling his shirt aside to show what he said was a bite mark. Now there's a photo with clear evidence making the social media rounds, some have said he carefully it may be Photoshop, although the Italian couch afterwards said he saw a bite mark. Suarez was quoted as saying in Spanish after the match, things happen on the pinch, we were both in the area; he thrust his shoulder into me. Which I got to tell you David sounds a little like what my big sister, who I love dearly, would say when she'd punch me and tell our dad, his stomach hit my fist. Now of course there's lots a Snark on social media. One tweet said, "Suarez is a great player but he he's got to lay off the Italian food."

GREENE: That's pretty good. I love these claims that the shoulder happened to come towards my mouth. Jokes aside here, let’s talk a little more about Suarez. He does have a history of let’s say bad behavior right?

GOLDMAN: Yeah, you know it's interesting. Those who follow world soccer knew the history. Those who've just tuned in for this brilliant World Cup only knew Suarez as a marvelously talented goal-scorer, but yeah that history is a bit damning. He has two prior suspensions for biting, one last year a 10 game ban, in 2010 a seven- game ban. Other smudges on his record at the last World Cup in South Africa. He got a red card for a handball to keep Ghana from scoring. He was kicked out but Uruguay still won the game.

GREENE: Alright so not even penalize for this apparent bite, we'll use this word but can FIFA do something to him here?

GOLDMAN: Well yeah, FIFA announced late yesterday it's started disciplinary procedures against Suarez. Suarez and Uruguayan Soccer Association reportedly have until five p.m. today, local time and I'm quoting here "to provide their position and any documentary evidence they deem relevant." FIFA's disciplinary code includes article 77 which says that the disciplinary committee can punish serious infringement that have escaped the attention of match officials. They can use video evidence and earlier this year FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, supported that use of video evidence. FIFA can suspend in a case like this up to two years but the longest section from a World Cup offense up till now has been eight games. If FIFA takes action and there's really David, going to be howling if it doesn't, it has to be before Saturday when Uruguay Plays Colombia in the round of 16.

GREENE: OK, we were talking to NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. He's in Brazil covering the World cup. Talking about Uruguay's star Luis Suarez, who's been accused of on-the-field biting. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.
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