Suarez faces ban after bite on Chiellini
Uruguayan's tournament could be over if found guilty of biting Chiellini
(Diego Godin 81)
For those of us who chose to watch England this morning (Singapore time) instead, it seemed like a joke at first.
But, as the social networks exploded, as the mobile phones began to vibrate with reaction from friends and family, it became apparent that this was no laughing matter.
For the third time in his career, it appears that Luis Suarez has bitten an opponent during a game.
And not just any game. A crucial World Cup group game watched by millions across the world.
Fifa will have little option but to ban him, possibly for the rest of the tournament.
Uruguay's must-win clash with Italy in Natal seemed to be heading for a stalemate when Suarez made his mark on the game. Quite literally.
In a penalty-area melee, the Liverpool striker lowered his head, made contact with Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder, twitched and then pulled away as the Italian defender recoiled in pain.
Suarez fell to the ground clutching his teeth in pain.
Chiellini hauled his shirt down and photographs later appeared to show a ring of teeth marks in his flesh.
As scattered bands of Liverpool fans rallied around their hero on the Internet, the only straw they could cling to was that the photograph had been doctored. It is not an argument that has won a lot of support.
If it had been an isolated incident, the first blemish on a man's record, then Suarez would surely be looking at a lengthy ban.
But this, as everyone knows, is not Suarez's first offence.
In 2010, he bit PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal on the shoulder in a Dutch Eredivisie game and was banned for seven games.
Last year, he bit Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in a Premier League game and was banned for 10 games.
To do it for a third game and expect to still play a part in the World Cup is perhaps a forlorn hope.
Italy, eliminated by a Diego Godin goal moments later, were furious.
Afterwards, Chiellini released a statement to reporters that didn't beat around the bush.
"Suarez is a sneak," it read. "He gets away with it because Fifa wants its stars to play in the World Cup.
"I'd love to see if they have the courage to use video evidence against him. The referee saw the bite mark too, but he did nothing about it."
Fifa cannot afford to have its authority or their objectivity challenged in public like that.
It is already, for very different reasons, a laughing stock.
It will need to take a breath, assess the evidence and then make a decisive judgment.
If they can rule out Photoshop chicanery, then they have to be firm. Not only to ban Suarez, but to ban him from the rest of the tournament.
Not only to ban him from the rest of the tournament, but to give some thought to extended ban at club level.
And then Liverpool will have to make sure that Suarez receives the help his behaviour suggests that he needs.
And it is his situation at Liverpool that intrigues the most.
Not for the first time, the Suarez camp has mobilised in the build-up to a transfer window.
Reporters with strong contacts have been writing of links with a move to Barcelona or Real Madrid.
Family members have suddenly been talking to the press, speaking publicly of Suarez's desire to move on.
It's the same pattern of behaviour that marked last year's attempt to move, an attempt that was firmly snuffed out by Liverpool chairman John Henry.
Were it not for this incident, questions would have been asked of the club's ability to retain their superstar against his will for a second successive summer.
Now, the landscape is very different.
In a funny kind of way, this might work out very nicely for Liverpool.
"He bit me, it's clear, I still have the mark. The referee should have blown his whistle and given him a red card, because he was also simulating."
- Italy's Giorgio Chiellini insisting that Uruguay's Luis Suarez had bitten him
"These things happen in the box. We were in contact, chest against shoulder, and I got a knock to the eye."
- Suarez, who was covering his mouth after the clash
"I didn't see it. I'd like to see the images first. He is the preferred target for a lot of media.".
- Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez
"Once again, his actions have left him open to severe criticism... Fifa must investigate this very seriously."
- Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce
Other Suarez controversies
- February 2007: Makes his international debut for Uruguay against Colombia but is sent off in the final minutes after being shown a second yellow card for dissent.
- August 2007: Joins Ajax from FC Groningen but he is later suspended by the Dutch giants after a half-time dressing-room altercation with teammate Albert Luque.
- July 2010: During the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals, Suarez prevents Ghana's Dominic Adiyiah from scoring in the final minute with a deliberate handball on the line and is subsequently sent off. A penalty was awarded but missed by Asamoah Gyan and footage showed Suarez celebrating on the sidelines. Uruguay eventually went through to the last four on penalties.
- November 2010: Handed a seven-match ban by the Dutch FA and fined by his club for biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal during an Eredivisie match.
- October 2011: Alleged to have racially abused Manchester United's Patrice Evra during a Premier League match. Later found guilty by an independent regulatory commission, banned for eight matches and fined £40,000 ($85,000).
- December 2011: Seen making an offensive gesture towards Fulham fans. At this time he had already been charged by the FA over the racism incident, although not yet punished, but was handed a further one-match ban for the gesture.
- February 2012: United and Liverpool met again at Old Trafford, but more controversy blew up as Suarez refuses to shake Evra's hand before kick-off.
- October 2012: Celebrates a goal against Everton by diving in front of Toffees boss David Moyes, who had earlier claimed that ''divers'' such as Suarez were putting fans off the English game.
- April 2013: Bites Branislav Ivanovic on the arm but escapes punishment on the pitch as the referee fails to see it, and scores Liverpool's equaliser seven minutes into stoppage time as they draw 2-2 with Chelsea at Anfield. Fined by club the following day and charged with violent conduct by the FA. Subsequently handed a 10-match ban by an independent regulatory commission, which Liverpool opt not to appeal against.