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LUIS SUAREZ – WHAT COULD HAPPEN TO THE LIVERPOOL STRIKER?

By CHRISTOPHER DAVIES

IS BITING AN OPPONENT IN THE LAWS OF THE GAME?
Not specifically. Thankfully it is so rare the International Football Association Board, FIFA’s law-making body, have not seen fit to include biting in Law 12 (fouls and misconduct) but it would come under violent conduct and if a referee saw a player bite an opponent it would be a red card offence

BUT SPITTING WAS MADE A SENDING-OFF OFFENCE, WASN’T IT?

Yes, the offence was included in the Laws in the wake of AIDS. In Law, “a player, substitute or substituted player is sent-off if he spits at an opponent or any other person.” While the chances of infection through saliva or biting are minimal it is obviously a health risk. This is why players with blood wounds, usually the head, must have the wound covered and if there is blood on the jersey it must be changed. In 1999, the Football Association banned Patrick Vieira for six games after the Arsenal midfielder spat at West Ham’s Neil Ruddock. At Euro 2004 Alexander Frei of Switzerland was banned for three games for spitting on the neck of Steven Gerrard during England’s 3-0 win.

WHAT POWERS DO THE FA HAVE IF A PLAYER IS FOUND GUILTY OF BITING AN OPPONENT?
Without being pedantic, it is an Independent Regulatory Commission appointed by the FA that is responsible for any punishment. Basically, there is no limit to the sanction they can hand out.

BUT WHAT IS A LIKELY PUNISHMENT?
It goes in a player’s favour if he apologises and the club are seen to be pro-active with internal action…

THIS DIDN’T REALLY HELP ERIC CANTONA…
True, Manchester United banned him until the end of the season, four months, after his kung-fu kick at a Crystal Palace fan and the disciplinary commission extended this, handing Cantona an eight-month suspension. The FA weren’t too happy, but strange as it may seem, they have no hands-on control over such bans. A difference is that what Cantona did was against the law of the land while what Luis Suarez did is a football matter (so far).

SO FAR?
Anyone who is aware that a crime has been committed can report it. It is not essential for them to have been personally affected by the crime. Since 2011 the same procedure has been followed in criminal cases in every canton. The police investigate what has happened. At the end of the investigation, the public prosecutor’s office that has jurisdiction over the case decides whether there is enough evidence to bring charges. This is what happened with John Terry.

OK…BUT WHAT IS SUAREZ’S LIKELY BAN IF FOUND GUILTY?
He has “previous” and was suspended for seven games for a similar offence while he was an Ajax player which may be a yardstick for our FA. The governing body will be keen that the disciplinary commission ensures any sanction acts as a deterrent.

NO ACTION WAS TAKEN AGAINST JERMAIN DEFOE FOR ALLEGEDLY BITING JAVIER MASCHERANO SEVEN YEARS AGO…
The video evidence, while damning, may not prove beyond all reasonable doubt that Defoe bit the Liverpool player. Referee Steve Bennett cautioned Mascherano for a foul on Defoe who reacted, so under the FA regulations the incident was dealt with and they were powerless to take any further action.

BUT IF THE POLICE…
This is unlikely especially as Ivanovic told Merseyside Police he does not wish to make a complaint. But still a possibility.

ALL RIGHT, BUT DUNCAN FERGUSON WAS GIVEN A THREE-MONTH JAIL SENTENCE AFTER HEAD-BUTTING JOHN McSTAY OF RAITH ROVERS WHEN HE WAS WITH RANGERS…
Ferguson was neither sent-off nor cautioned for the offence by the match referee. However, the Scottish Football Association took action after viewing a video recording of the assault. The striker was on probation for a previous offence at the time of his latest indiscretion which broke the terms of his bail.

LIVERPOOL HAVE FINED SUAREZ “AN UNDISCLOSED AMOUNT” – WHY DON’T THEY MAKE IT PUBLIC?
Football still operates in a secret world and many feel supporters, who are told by clubs how important they are, should not be kept in the dark. Under Professional Footballers Association rules a two-week fine is the maximum apart from exceptional circumstances.

HOW EXCEPTIONAL DOES IT HAVE TO BE?
Manchester City wanted to fine Carlos Tevez four weeks’ wages after he was found guilty of five breaches of contract after refusing to warm up against Bayern Munich. The PFA refused to back the four-week fine and City, who were not best pleased, had to reduce it to two weeks.

VOTING FOR THE FOOTBALL WRITERS’ ASSOCIATION’S FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR OPENS ON APRIL 25. DOES LUIS SUAREZ HAVE ANY CHANCE OF WINNING THE AWARD NOW?
It will make for a lively discussion at the FWALive event later that day.

1 Comment

1 Comment

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    Nick

    April 22, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Nice summary, a couple of points though. Mascherano was at West Ham when Defoe bit him. And the punishment the Dutch FA handed down was 6 games, there was 1 additional game carried over from a suspended sanction for violent conduct. The incident happened in full view of Friend and he spoke to the players afterwards, does that constitute “the ref dealing with it”?

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