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Reality bites, but Uruguay have their hero's back

By Euan McKirdy, CNN
June 25, 2014 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
Luis Suarez received a ten-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in 2013. Luis Suarez received a ten-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in 2013.
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Six of the worst: Football's dirty players
Six of the worst: Football's dirty players
Six of the worst: Football's dirty players
Six of the worst: Football's dirty players
Six of the worst: Football's dirty players
Six of the worst: Football's dirty players
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • While world's press froths at the mouth, Uruguay defends its hero
  • Uruguay coach backs striker accused of biting opponent
  • Luis Suarez has history of on-field incidents, including two previous bites on opponents

Editor's note: How are you celebrating the World Cup? Join the global conversation on CNN Facebook Pulse

(CNN) -- While Uruguay's star striker faces an uncomfortable wait to see what his alleged chomp on Giorgio Chiellini will mean for the rest of his World Cup -- and possibly his international future post-Brazil -- the world was equally aghast and amused at the sight of the footballer's on-field antics.

Luis Suarez, who plays his club football for English Premier League team Liverpool and has just come off the back of an inspirational season, appeared to bite Italy defender Chiellini towards the end of their World Cup group game.

He wasn't punished on the pitch, and Uruguay duly went on to win the match, knocking four-time champions Italy out in the process.

Suarez is a national hero in Uruguay, a truly world-class player from this small but football-obsessed nation. His inclusion in the team despite a recent injury layoff has inspired La Celeste to two wins and qualification to the next round.

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Unrepentant

But while the world howls in barely-concealed glee and indignation at the incident, the Uruguayan press is remaining po-faced about Suarez' latest on-field folly.

Montevideo's fourth estate mostly played down the incident, with El Pais leading with the fact that FIFA will investigate the incident, alongside a fairly sympathetic report carrying comments made by Suarez to TV station Channel 10 Uruguay, in which he played down his part in the scuffle.

"These things happen in the (penalty) box," an unrepentant Suarez was reported as saying.

They certainly do, if only for him. This is the third time he's been accused of baring his fangs on the pitch, following incidents in Holland and England.

In 2010 he received a seven-match ban for a bite on PSV Eindhoven's midfielder Otman Bakkal, and was sanctioned again in 2013 for gnawing on Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic. That earned him ten games on the sidelines. He was also accused of racially abusing French international Patrice Evra during an EPL match, earning him an eight-game ban.

He also has World Cup form, ruining Ghana's hopes of progressing last time out with an obvious handball. In South Africa, too, he seemed to show little remorse.

Support

The player received the immediate backing of his international manager.

"If you continue to attack we will see how to defend Suarez," Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said, quoted in the Uruguayan edition of futbol,com. "This is a World Cup and not cheap morality."

The site also carried a piece slamming the English press' reaction to their pantomime villain's latest on-field snack.

The Uruguayan reaction wasn't all denial, however. McDonald's in Uruguay got in early with a twitter joke at the national hero's expense, inviting him to come assuage his hunger at one of their restaurants: "Hey @luis16suarez, if you're still hungry take a bite of a Big Mac."

The refrain was echoed around the twittersphere, with a number of companies bearing toothy grins as they made light of Suarez' actions. #suarez and #bansuarez also trended for hours after the game.

FIFA has opened proceedings against the forward, for breach of FIFA disciplinary code. FIFA added that Suarez and/or his national association are invited to provide their position and any documentary evidence they deem relevant, with a 5 p.m. (Brasilia time) deadline.

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