What made Suarez do it?


Why? Why would a striker in the form of his life choose the World Cup as the scene of a repeat offence that has left the sporting world shocked and disgusted?

The Uruguay striker stands accused of biting an opponent for the third time in his career. This is a phenomenon football has never seen before.

It was treated as a strange quirk when Suarez did it the first time– incurring a seven-match ban for biting a PSV player in 2010 when he was at Ajax Amsterdam. It was condemned as unacceptable when he repeated the act on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic last year. He served a 10-match ban this came, and returned to action for Liverpool a better player – and apparently a changed man.

But no. His assault on Italian defender Chiellini during Uruguay’s ill-tempered 1-0 victory in their World Cup Group D last night has left everyone scrambling for answers.

“From what I've seen in the video footage, Suarez took out his frustration and anger on Chiellini from blocking his access to the ball by reactively and impulsively biting him,” Eva Kimonis, senior lecturer at the School of Psychology at the University of New South Wales in Australia, told Reuters.

Impulsive biting? That’s what two-year-olds do.

“While common in early childhood, biting in adults is rare. It may be one manifestation of a broader, long-term pattern of misbehaviour that involves other forms of aggression – hitting, bullying, shouting, physical fighting – and is common to people with particularly hot tempers and impulsiveness,” Kimonis explained.

“Aggressive behaviour like biting and hitting may be reactive in response to a real or perceived threat [and] the action is typically preceded by some sort of stressor that leads to anger and frustration, causing the person to lash out against the source of that threat.”

South African Clinical Psychologist Jaydon Immerman feels that a mix of deeper issues combined with the emotions involved in a sporting event may have pushed Suarez over the edge.

“There is obviously an aggressive side to sport, and sometimes it boils over,” Immerman tells KICKOFF.com. “He definitely seems to have an anger problem, and some issues which have not been dealt with.”

“All elite athletes have to deal with exceptional stress. All have a stress signature, not all – in fact very, very few – bite,” Dr Corinne Reid, a clinical psychologist from the School of Psychology and Exercise Science at Murdoch University in Western Australia told Reuters.

Suarez had a difficult upbringing – his family was poor, his father abandoned them, his mother scrubbed floors for a living, while he often turned to alcohol for an escape.

These hardships do not just disappear once fame and fortune is reached, and Kimonis feels his peculiar behaviour stems back to his rough childhood years.

Do the triggers that set Suarez off lie deep in his childhood history?

This may be so, but the star is unlikely to find many sympathisers after his third strike.

Fifa have confirmed that “disciplinary proceedings have been opened against … Suarez”.

Most fans will be of the opinion that he does not set foot on the pitch again during Brazil 2014 – and that he spend some serious  time on a psychologists couch in the coming months.