Suarez: FIFA must bite the biter back, and hard

When a dog bites a human being he is, if lucky, given a warning and one last chance to prove he can rub along with the rest of society. If he's unlucky, he is put down with little discussion on the matter.

So what do we do with the serial biter Luis Suarez? It's not quite a man bites dog story with the prodigiously talented Uruguayan, in fact it's something that's even harder to fathom: man continually biting man.

The Liverpool striker is one of the best footballers in the world, as anyone who watched him play when he returned from a 10-match suspension at the start of last year's Premier League season to help fire Liverpool to a thrilling championship chase knows.

Suarez reputation may now finally sink him. Photo: Getty Images

Suarez reputation may now finally sink him. Photo: Getty Images

And just for good measure, he rammed that message home again in the group phase of this World Cup when, barely a month after climbing out of a wheelchair following post-season surgery, he slammed home two goals to knock England out of the World Cup in Uruguay's 2-1 win over Roy Hodgson's team.

That suspension at the start of the most recent Premier League season had, of course, been incurred for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in a game the previous campaign.

It followed on an earlier lengthy ban he picked up in The Netherlands when, playing for Ajax, he bit another opponent, PSV Eindhoven's Dutch midfielder Otman Bakkal in a league match. He was quickly dubbed the ''cannibal of Ajax'' after that incident.

Suarez's penchant for courting bad publicity is legendary. At the 2010 World Cup, near the end of extra time when Uruguay and Ghana were deadlocked at 2-2 in a quarter-final match, a header from Dominic Adiyiah was goal-bound until Suarez popped up on the goal-line to punch the ball to safety.

He was instantly sent off, but no matter: Asamoah Gyan missed the subsequent spot kick and the match went into a penalty shoot out, which Uruguay won, ensuring Los Celestes would deprive the Ghanaians of the accolade of being the first African side to reach the World Cup semi-finals.

Suarez, jubilant though he knew he would miss the semi-final, simply claimed his reaction was instinctive, adding later that the ''hand of God'' now belonged to him a reference to perhaps the most infamous handball in World Cup history when Diego Maradona deflected the ball past Peter Shilton with his hand in the 1986 quarter-final between Argentina and England, a ''goal'' that was allowed to stand.

It's not just biting, of course. He was in hot water in England following a clash with Manchester United's Patrice Evra when he was accused of racially abusing the French defender, another conviction which earned him a eight-match ban and a £40,000 ($72,500) fine. After dismissing Liverpool's appeal, the FA said in a statement that Suarez had "damaged the image of English football around the world".

FIFA surely must act now, and act quickly. Uruguay is due to play its next game, a round of 16 match against Colombia, in Rio on Saturday night (Sunday morning AEST).

It is inconceivable that Suarez will not receive a lengthy band for his despicable action.

FIFA suspended Italian defender Mauro Tessotti for eight games after he broke Spanish midfielder Luis Enrique's jaw in the quarter-final between the two nations in the 1994 World Cup in the USA.

That may be the benchmark that FIFA will have to operate from in this incident, which has gone round the world and been instantly condemned in every corner of the globe.

If Uruguay wanted to be seen as sporting citizens they would, of course, suspend their star player, but given the stakes of their next game, it is unlikely they would do so. Without Suarez, their chances of beating the red-hot Colombians are slim.

So FIFA should make the decision for them, ban him from the rest of this World Cup and also some of the qualifiers for the next one.

Suarez's behaviour also shines the spotlight on Liverpool and what sort of action they might take.

The club, under both Kenny Dalglish and Brendan Rodgers, have been highly supportive of their wayward South American, prepared to forgive and forget not just the biting and racism incidents, but his threats to go elsewhere if the club was not successful.

But can the Anfield powerhouse, now back in the Champions League and perhaps on the way to re-establishing its global eminence, afford to have such a PR disaster as Suarez on its books?

They would win widespread acclaim ere they to say 'enough is enough' and sell him to someone else, with less scruples.

But Suarez's reputation may now finally sink him.

Which of the world's giant clubs can afford to have their reputation sullied by fielding a player with such an appalling reputation? Will their sponsors want their logo borne by a man whom the football world regards as a serial cheat and a biter? How would they like seeing their image on shirts photoshopped with Suarez head bearing huge fangs, or adorned with one of those collars dogs are given post surgery to ensure they do not lick and scratch at their healing wounds?

The local Merseyside paper, the Liverpool Echo, reacted swiftly to the latest Suarez transgression, staging a for-and-against discussion on whether the Reds should get rid of their volatile star.

The arguments for selling him were that he has brought shame on the club, undermined his supportive manager, is a serial offender and simply cannot be trusted not to do so again, and that no player cannot be replaced.

The arguments against were pragmatic: that football is a business, that we shouldn't get swept up by hysteria, that its part of the drive that makes him such a good player and that there is no precedent for such a dismissal.

Some 20 hours after the incident, the fans on the Echo's website had voted 67 to 33 per cent to get rid of him.

It might be good if Liverpool, Uruguay, and FIFA all decided that the time had come to set such a precedent.

Three strikes and you are out Luis - for this World Cup, and some time thereafter.