After FIFA issued a four-month ban from “any football-related activity,” Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez made his way back home to a hero’s welcome. Many prominent sports figures have spoken out in support of him over the past few days, but perhaps the most unlikely person is Giorgio Chiellini, the Italian defender whose shoulder felt the wrath of Suarez's teeth during Tuesday’s match.
According to CNN, Chiellini, called the ban “excessive." “Now inside me there's no feelings of joy, revenge or anger against Suarez for an incident that happened on the pitch and that's done," he wrote on his website. Chiellini, who plays for Italian team Juventus, also wrote, "There only remains the anger and the disappointment about the match."
For some people, FIFA's punishment doesn’t go far enough. Over at The New York Times, Roger Cohen writes that while Suarez is a gifted striker, the punishment for incident with his “protuberant teeth” was “on the mild side.” Henry Winter, The Telegraph’s World Cup correspondent, was less restrained. Referring to Suarez as a “carnivore,” Winter writes that while FIFA have their own corruption issues to deal with, “for once Sepp Blatter’s organization deserves real praise. They got it right. They reflected the disgust.”
Suarez has an unfortunate history of biting players, which undoubtedly contributed to the harsh ban. But Uruguayan President Jose Mujica rushed to his defense and said that it’s unfair to punish the star player for previous incidents. According to Reuters, Mujica said:
We didn't choose him to be a philosopher, or a mechanic, or to have good manners – he's a great player." The president added, "I didn't see him bite anyone. But they sure can bash each other with kicks and chops."
And of course, the world’s other most famous victim of a sports biting decided to chime in. Evander Holyfield, who was bitten on the ear by Mike Tyson in 1997, said he “understands” why Suarez gnashed at Chiellini and told the New York Daily News:
When you're a competitor, you get mad, you get upset and people go off. They'll do something like that. Me, as a kid, if I'd run and get into a headlock…if they didn't let me go, I'd bite the daylights out of them."
Many commentators have pointed out that what Suarez needs now more than anything else is help, specifically therapy to get to the root cause of why he bites people in the first place.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.