Once bitten forever… unforgiven?

Some readers will remember a famous incident in boxing when Mike Tyson was so hungry midway through his fight with Evander Holyfield that he couldn’t help but have a quick peck from his opponents ear. Over ten years later, on a football pitch, another sportsman has bitten off more than should have been chewing.

Luis Suarez, the Ajax striker, who helped Uruguay surprisingly reach the World Cup semi-finals in South Africa this summer is the guilty man.

During injury time in a match with rivals PSV Eindhoven, Suarez bit the collarbone of midfielder Otman Bakkal in retaliation at having his foot trod on, but avoided punishment after the referee did not witness the incident.

Suarez’s own club immediately fined the player two weeks wages after the incident but a seven game suspension from the Dutch Football association today will see the player unable to play in domestic football until 4th February 2011.

Dutch daily De Telegraaf has branded Suarez the ‘Cannibal of Ajax’ whilst interestingly the victim Bakkal has said that it is unnecessary to ban the Ajax forward.

I’m personally not sure whether a seven week ban is appropriate. It’s important not to let the fact it’s an unusual retaliation technique make one believe it deserves more punitive treatment.

After all, kicking or punching out at opponents ‘off the ball’ has seen suspensions, (such as with Joey Barton) for as little as three games and the actual damage done by Suarez appears limited.

It is of course though a disgusting and unjustifiable response to being stepped on, so there’s unlikely to be too much sympathy in the footballing world.

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