Soccer's bad boy bites opponent at World Cup

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Soccer's bad boy bites opponent at World Cup
WATCH: Did Suarez bite a player for the third time, this time Chiellini? #ITAvsURU http://t.co/Vrpt4lsyts
NATAL, BRAZIL - JUNE 24: Giorgio Chiellini of Italy pulls down his shirt after a clash with Luis Suarez of Uruguay (not pictured) as Gaston Ramirez of Uruguay looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Uruguay at Estadio das Dunas on June 24, 2014 in Natal, Brazil. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
NATAL, BRAZIL - JUNE 24: Luis Suarez of Uruguay reacts during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Uruguay at Estadio das Dunas on June 24, 2014 in Natal, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Uruguay's Luis Suarez reacts while sitting on the pitch during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, left, shakes hand with Giorgio Chiellini after the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. Uruguay edged 10-man Italy 1-0 to reach the second round of the World Cup. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
Italy's Giorgio Chiellini, left, lays on the pitch after Uruguay's Luis Suarez, right, ran into him with his teeth during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Italy's defender Giorgio Chiellini clutches his shoulder after clashing with Uruguay forward Luis Suarez during a Group D football match between Italy and Uruguay at the Dunas Arena in Natal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 24, 2014. Uruguay won 1-0. AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
NATAL, BRAZIL - JUNE 24: Giorgio Chiellini of Italy reacts during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Uruguay at Estadio das Dunas on June 24, 2014 in Natal, Brazil. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Italy's Andrea Pirlo leaves the pitch following the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. Uruguay won 1-0. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Uruguay's Luis Suarez walks with his hands on his head during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Italy's Giorgio Chiellini holds his shoulder after Uruguay's Luis Suarez ran into it with his teeth during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Uruguay's forward Luis Suarez (L) reacts past Italy's defender Giorgio Chiellini during a Group D football match between Italy and Uruguay at the Dunas Arena in Natal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 24, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
Uruguay players celebrate after defeating Italy 1-0 during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Uruguay players celebrate after Diego Godin scored his side's first goal during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Uruguay's Diego Godin jumps over the advertisement board as he celebrates scoring the opening goal during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Uruguay's Diego Godin, left, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, center, dives for the ball as Uruguay's Diego Godin scores the opening goal during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Uruguay's Diego Godin jumps over a barricade after scoring his side's first goal during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. Right is Uruguay's Luis Suarez. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon kneels outside his goal after being scored on by Uruguay's Diego Godin (3) during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. Uruguary defeated Italy 1-0. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
Italy's Marco Parolo, left, and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon walk past Uruguay's Luis Suarez, right, after the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. Uruguay edged 10-man Italy 1-0 to reach the second round of the World Cup. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Uruguay fans celebrate after Diego Godin scored his side's first goal during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Uruguay players celebrate after defeating Italy 1-0 during the group D World Cup soccer match at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
NATAL, BRAZIL - JUNE 24: Alvaro Gonzalez of Uruguay and Marco Parolo of Italy compete during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group D match between Italy and Uruguay at Estadio das Dunas on June 24, 2014 in Natal, Brazil. (Photo by Mike Hewitt - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Uruguay's defender Diego Godin celebrates after scoring during a Group D football match between Italy and Uruguay at the Dunas Arena in Natal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 24, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
Italy's defender Giorgio Chiellini (L) appeals to the referee after apparently being bitten by Uruguay forward Luis Suarez during a Group D football match between Italy and Uruguay at the Dunas Arena in Natal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 24, 2014. Uruguay won 1-0. AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
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BY JIM VERTUNO

NATAL, Brazil (AP) -- Biting opponents, racist comments - all that looked to be behind Luis Suarez, as soccer's bad boy was maturing into a star for his club and country. Then, the old habit that most people leave behind in nursery school cropped up again in front of an audience of millions.

Faced with a smothering and frustrating Italian defense in a must-win World Cup game Tuesday, the Uruguayan superstar responded with his front teeth.

It came about the 80th minute when Suarez and Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini got tangled up in front of the Italy goal. The apparent chomp happened in an instant, but caught by television cameras, it became a worldwide sensation and could lead to Suarez being kicked out of the World Cup.

The referee didn't see a bite, and no foul was called despite Chiellini pleading and pulling down his jersey to show a red mark on his shoulder.


About a minute later, Uruguay scored the winning goal in a 1-0 game that sent Italy home.

Uruguay will continue playing, but the federation that runs the World Cup will investigate and may suspend Suarez, who has twice before been disciplined for biting opponents in league games.

Suarez didn't confirm or deny the bite, but said he was angry that Chiellini - one of the best defenders in the world and known for his physical play - had hit him in the eye during the game.

"These are things that happen on the pitch, we were both in the area, he thrust his shoulder into me," Suarez said in Spanish. "These things happen on the pitch, and we don't have to give them so much (importance)."

Suarez, 27, should be celebrating a career year. After asking to be sold before the season, he stayed with Liverpool, won the scoring title and was named English Premier League's player of the year.

Now, he'll have to try to start rehabbing his reputation again.

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez and Suarez's teammates immediately defended their star.

"I want to say that if he's attacked, as it has begun in this press conference, we'll also defend him, because this is a football World Cup, not of cheap morality," said Tabarez, who said he didn't see a bite.

Suarez was suspended following biting incidents in the Netherlands in 2010 and in England in 2013. He also was suspended for racially abusing an opponent. British tabloids have teasingly called him a vampire, and social media artists have had fun manipulating his photo into images of Dracula and Hannibal Lecter.

And he was responsible for one of the most talked-about moments of the 2010 World Cup, when he purposefully used his hand to prevent a Ghana goal near the end of the quarterfinals. Suarez received a red card and was banned for the next game, but Ghana missed the penalty kick and was eliminated.

Uruguay defender and team captain Diego Lugano suggested Suarez was a victim of his past.

"You need to show me because I didn't see anything. Did you see it today or did you see what happened in other years?" Lugano said. "The worst of all was Chiellini's attitude ... as sportsmen leaving the field, crying and appealing against a rival."

On the field immediately after the match, Suarez looked relieved to have pulled out the victory in the heat of this tropical coastal city. If Uruguay had lost, it would have been knocked out of the World Cup

After taking off his jersey, Suarez walked to a corner of the stadium, clapped and flashed his toothy smile as he waved to the thousands of Uruguay fans chanting and cheering his name.

FIFA, soccer's world governing body, can sanction players with bans of up to two years. FIFA had no immediate comment.

FIFA Vice President Jim Boyle said on British television that Suarez had let himself down again.

"There is no doubt Luis Suarez is a fantastic footballer but, once again, his actions have left him open to severe criticism," Boyle, who is also chairman of the FIFA referees' committee, said from his home in Northern Ireland. "FIFA must investigate the incident seriously."

Chiellini said Suarez should have been kicked out of the game.

"Not sending off Suarez (was) ridiculous," Chiellini said. "It was absolutely clear. There's even a mark."

Suarez's status for the World Cup had been in doubt after he had left knee surgery just a month before it started. He missed Uruguay's 3-1 opening loss to Costa Rica, but returned with a flourish to rescue Uruguay with both goals in a 2-1 win over England.

After the victory, he claimed vengeance against some of the British media he accused of treating him badly.

This was supposed to be the World Cup where Suarez repaired his reputation. He tried to rebrand himself as a family man after the birth of his two children, a son and daughter.

Suarez said he regretted his previous biting incidents, telling the Mirror newspaper in London recently that he worried what his children will think.

"That thought almost hurts me more than the actual deed. The fact, as well, that I will have to explain one day to my kids that it was me, their father," Suarez said. "That has kept me awake at night many times ... I want to be a father they can be proud of."

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