The darling of world football villains, Luis Suarez, is back on the bad-boy prowl after appearing to punch Chile defender Gonzalo Jara during Uruguay’s 2-0 home World Cup qualifier defeat.
The blow (see the video below) occurred in the 35th minute of Tuesday’s match when Suarez, attempting to gain positioning on Jara during a corner kick, gave the Nottingham Forest defender a slick right-hand jab to the jaw. Argentine referee Nestor Pitana failed to take action over the incident although the Liverpool striker was later booked for protesting a decision. The yellow card means the 26 year old will miss the next qualifying duel away at Venezuela on June 11th.
The incident, which the Guardian claims will result in Suarez facing disciplinary action from Fifa, looks more like a mischievous love-tap than an actual punch. The ding was landed with Suarez facing the oppositve direction while struggling to free himself from Jara’s manhandling, a controversial defensive tactic that frequently goes unpunished and has become all too common in today’s game.
Unfortunately for Suarez and his teammates, the circumstances surrounding the tussle are unlikely to have any affect on the ban that Fifa will impose. If hit with a two match suspension – which would not be unforeseeable given the strict nature of the governing body and Suarez’ reputation – the striker would be banned through his country’s away clash with Peru on September 6th. While such a penalty would decimate the attacking prospectus of most teams, La Celeste are a nation blessed with world-class strikers and few will shed tears with Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan leading the line.
A 2014 World Cup in Brazil without the 2011 Copa America winners would be a shame. But at 6th in the CONMEBOL Qualifying table and two points off a 5th placed play-off spot, it’s becoming a distinct possibility.