Fifa has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Uruguay striker Luis SuÃ¡rezÂ after he appeared to bite Italyâ€™s Giorgio Chiellini.
â€œFifa can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the player Luis SuÃ¡rez of Uruguay,â€ the body said in a statement. SuÃ¡rez could face a ban of up to 24 matches if found guilty.
The incident occurredÂ during Uruguayâ€™s 1-0 victory over Italy, a result that knocked the 2006 champions out of the World Cup. With the score at 0-0, SuÃ¡rez leaned into Chiellini before appearing to bite his opponentâ€™s shoulder. SuÃ¡rez was not punished by the referee but Fifa said the proceedings related to any â€œinfringements which have escaped the match officialsâ€™ attentionâ€.
Earlier in the day, senior Fifa official Michel Dâ€™Hooge told the BBC that â€œbiting is not compatible with normal football practiceâ€.
Jim Boyce, Fifaâ€™s vice-president and head of the bodyâ€™s referees committee, also took a dim view of the incident.
â€œI have watched the incident several times on television. There is no doubt Luis SuÃ¡rez is a fantastic footballer but, once again, his actions have left him open to severe criticism,â€ said Boyce. â€œFifa must investigate the incident seriously and take whatever disciplinary action deemed necessary.â€
SuÃ¡rez defended himself on Uruguayan television after the match. â€œThese situations happen on the pitch. We were both just inside the area; he struck me in the chest with his shoulder and he hit me in the eye as well,â€ he said. â€œThese are things that happen on the pitch and you shouldn't attach so much importance to them. I'm very happy to have qualified. We are taking each game as it comes. We know that we're in a difficult situation; we're at our limits now.â€
Some sources in Uruguay believe he has been targeted unfairly.Â The website of the Uruguayan TV station Tenfield questioned whether the pressure on SuÃ¡rez was brought about by the British media.
â€œIn the TV replay, as viewed in the press area, it appears that [SuÃ¡rezâ€™s] face comes in contact with Chiellini without it being clear whether he bites him as was claimed by those â€“ especially the English â€“ who were keen to play down Uruguayâ€™s victory.
â€œBritish reporters in the press conference asked from the World Cup â€¦ It would be good if these Englishmen, who are concerned to have SuÃ¡rez suspended, remember how they won the World Cup in 1966 with a ball which was not a goal.â€
SuÃ¡rez has been involved in two biting incidents in the past. He was banned for 10 matches in 2013 for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic and in 2010 while playing for Ajax he was given a seven-game suspension for biting PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal.
Fifa said SuÃ¡rez and the Uruguayan football association have until 5pm Brasilia time (9pm BST) on Wednesday to â€œprovide their position and any documentary evidence they deem relevantâ€.