Pretoria - Uruguayan football star Luis Suarez would be facing up to six months in jail for biting someone had it happened in South Africa, according to a legal expert, who described biting as a “peculiar form of assault”.
On Tuesday night, Suarez’s seemingly insatiable appetite for human flesh continued when he apparently bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder during Uruguay’s 1-0 victory over Italy at the World Cup in Brazil. Suarez and Chiellini clashed in the Italian penalty area 10 minutes from the end of the match which sealed the Italians’ exit from the tournament.
His action triggered a state of delirium in social media around the world. Many on social media are still questioning his action, and a legal expert, Sibongile Baloyi, of the Law Society of South Africa, said Suarez could face a lengthy jail sentence or pay a heavy fine for his action under South African law.
If this had been Suarez’s first offence, the lightest punishment would have been a suspended sentence. The harshest would have been a fine, or both. “This was caught on camera, his only option would have been to plead guilty,” she said.
Despite having evaded punishment during the match, Suarez looks likely to face another lengthy suspension after Fifa said it would investigate the incident.
Suarez’s lawyer flew to Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday to defend him.
Suarez has been banned from soccer twice previously for biting.
“We’re polishing off a defence argument,” his lawyer Alejandro Balbi told local radio in Uruguay, where many people support the gifted frontman and feel he was being unfairly singled out by media in Europe. “We don’t have any doubts that this has happened because it’s Suarez and secondly because Italy was eliminated,” added Balbi, who is also a Uruguay FA board member. “There’s a lot of pressure from England and Italy.”
Fifa’s disciplinary code sets a maximum ban of 24 matches or two years, but the longest suspension Fifa has imposed for an offence at a World Cup was eight games for Italy’s Mauro Tassotti for breaking the nose of Spain’s Luis Enrique in 1994. Uruguay could potentially play four more games in the tournament, and it would be a surprise if Suarez were to be given a ban of a shorter duration if found guilty.
Fifa said it would expedite its investigation into the incident.
Suarez said: “Those are situations that happen on the pitch. We were both just there inside the area.”