Uruguayan star forward Luis Suarez appears to believe that the idiom “once bitten, twice shy” is applicable to the victim and not the one who bites. Prior to allegedly biting an Italian player in a group game in the ongoing World Cup, which has prompted FIFA to open disciplinary proceedings, he had earned notoriety twice earlier for biting opponents in club football. The champion striker may have been champing at the bit to lead Uruguay into the knockout stage. But the incident has drawn wide criticism and ridicule, and advice from psychologists that he needs help to address behavioural problems.
A handful of gamblers in Sweden had chewed over the possibility of Suarez biting an opponent at the World Cup. They felt it was worth a punt and on Tuesday it was time to celebrate. Bill Shankly, the legendary former manager of Liverpool FC—incidentally the club Suarez represents—could have been joking partly when he had famously said: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”
However, it is true that passions run higher in football than in any other sport. And with the quadrennial event of the World Cup setting up a stage overflowing with sentiments of patriotic pride, it pits nation against nation in seemingly gladiatorial combat. It is no surprise then that players including some of the all-time greats, cheered on by fanatical fans who elevate them to demigod status, try to break or bend rules in their quest for immortalising triumph. Be it Diego Maradona’s outrageous Hand of God goal against England in 1986 or Zinedine Zidane’s hot-headed head-butt of Marco Materazzi that let the cup slip off France’s grasp in the 2006 final against Italy, football World Cup has always been and will remain an arena for nail-biting finishes.