NATAL, Brazil — Uruguay striker Luis Suarez could once again be in trouble and facing a long ban after appearing to bite an Italian opponent Tuesday in a key World Cup group game.
The incident, visible on television replays, showed Suarez apparently bite the shoulder of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini as the pair clashed in the Italian penalty area. It happened about a minute before Uruguay scored in the 81st to secure a 1-0 win, sending Italy out of the tournament.
Suarez was chasing the ball and was blocked by the Italy defender. He buried his mouth briefly in Chiellini's shoulder and the Italian player fell over, apparently in pain and clutching the shoulder. The Suarez reeled away holding his mouth.
It is the third biting incident involving the talented but controversial striker, who has also been banned for racist abuse and was heavily criticized for a blatant handball that played a large role in knocking Ghana out of the 2010 World Cup.
Chiellini confirmed after the game that he had been bitten.
"... not sending off Suarez (was) ridiculous," Chiellini said. "It was absolutely clear. There's even a mark."
The 27-year-old Suarez has a history of disciplinary problems.
He was banned for seven matches by the Netherlands football federation in 2010 after biting PSV Eindhoven player Otman Bakkal in a league match when he played for Ajax.
After joining Liverpool in England's Premier League, he bit Chelsea player Branislav Ivanovic in 2013 and was banned for 10 games.
Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said he didn't see the alleged bite and repeatedly declined to comment.
"If it happened, the referee probably didn't see it," said Tabarez, who went on to defend his star forward.
"Aside from the mistakes he might've made, Suarez is the favorite target of certain media, certain press, which give much more importance to an alleged mistake that he might've committed than to the things for which he's in football."