Luis Suarez did it again. The serial biter that
he is couldn’t refrain
its impulse to taste a bit of Chiellini’s shoulder (not really the freshest
meat around though). Notwithstanding his amazing theatrical skills and escaping
the sight of the referee, Suarez could not in the information age get away with
this unnoticed. Seconds after the incident, the almighty “social networks” were
already bruising with evidence, outrage and commentaries over Suarez’s misdeed.
Since then, many lawyers have weighed in (here,
on the potential legal consequences faced by Suarez. Yesterday FIFA’s
disciplinary committee decided to sanction him with a 4 months ban from any
football activity and a 9 International games ban. In turn, Suarez announced that
he would challenge the decision,
and plans on going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if necessary. Let’s be the advocates of the cannibal!
Three legal axes of defence appear credible to
us: No serious infringement, preventative self-defence and the crocodile
If FIFA is to sanction Suarez a posteriori, it needs to demonstrate
under article 77 of the FIFA
Disciplinary Code (FDC) that the referee overlooked a serious infringement of the rules. Can a single bite really be
considered a serious infringement as defined by article 47 FDC? We doubt it and
this is why. At World Cups, football players get broken into pieces by over-aggressive tackles
and risk potentially damaging concussions. In light of
this a micro-bite leaving a 10–min trace on a players’ shoulder should not be
considered a serious infringement. Undoubtedly this is a ridiculous and childish
behaviour, highlighting the psychological instability of the player, but it is
not a serious infringement - a violent conduct susceptible to endanger Chielini’s
physical integrity. Therefore, we do not think that the FIFA Disciplinary Committee
was competent to deal with the matter. Moreover, if against any legal “bon
sens” the Committee were deemed competent, we think the following attenuating
circumstances should be duly taken into account.
Chiellini’s reputation as a tough (and dangerous) defender is
not to be made. Hence, Suarez’s biting can be considered as self-defence. Even
though no immediate threat could be identified, the biting might be a necessary
preventive measure to avoid any future wrongdoing from Chiellini’s side. This seems
to be common practice in international law since the US preventively attacked
Irak in 2003, we do not see any compelling reason why such a rationale could
not be transposed to the case at hand. Thus, we ask the Appeal Committee to
recognize that Suarez acted in preventive self-defence and, hence, to annul (or
reduce) the sanctions adopted by the Disciplinary Committee.
Moreover, Suarez’s biting is to be excused by the
Appeal Committee because of his unstable
mental status. Suarez has a well-known track record of biting
opponents and competitors dating back to its prime football infancy. He
developed a very rare symptom know as the crocodile syndrome, leading him to
instinctively react to stressful
and frustrating situations by biting. World-renowned medical expert Dr.
Zahn has confirmed Suarez’s atypical psychological condition. We therefore
demand that Suarez’s biting be considered as an immediate consequence of a psychological
disease and conclude that it should not lead to any sanction. Instead, we
suggest equipping Suarez with a playing muzzle
as a preventive measure to avoid any recurrence of biting incidents.
Luis Suarez is the victim of a repressive climate.
The global populace calls for a sacrifice, but this would lead to punishing him
for an anodyne, rather childish behaviour, out of his control and used
primarily as a defensive reflex against the recurring violence of defenders. In
fact, Suarez suffers greatly from his inability to deal with stressful and
violent encounters and shouldn’t be paying for what is to be qualified as a
psychological impairment. Furthermore, we believe the problem could be solved
by less radical measures than a ban, for example we have suggested that Suarez
could wear a muzzle in future games. We trust that the Appeal Committee will
recognize the specificity of Suarez’s situation and show the required clemency.