Luis Suarez bite: 'Suarez can learn, but it will not be easy', say senior psychologists after Uruguay striker is accused of biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini

Suarez and Chiellini clashed during the final World Cup Group D encounter where the centre-back appeared to show teeth marks on his shoulder

Luis Suarez can learn to stop biting opponents but it will not be a quick or easy process, senior psychologists have said following the Uruguay striker's bite on the shoulder of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.

Suarez, twice previously banned for biting, is under investigation by FIFA for the incident late in the Group D clash on Tuesday and faces another lengthy suspension.

"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 via email.

UPDATE: Luis Suarez banned for nine matches

"It's likely that he did not give thought to the serious repercussions of his actions given his violent history in the sport until it was too late, at which point he acted injured."

 

Among the research areas covered by Dr. Kimonis at the Australian university are aggressive and anti-social behavior and violent conduct.

"While common in early childhood, biting in adults is rare," Kimonis said. "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."

Liverpool forward Suarez was served a 10-game suspension last year after biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in a Premier League match and spent seven games on the sidelines in 2010 for biting PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal while playing for Ajax Amsterdam.

Video: Luis Suarez bites Giorgio Chiellini
Read more: Suarez faces up to two-year ban
Suarez speaks out: It was nothing
Did Suarez bite Chiellini? Decide for yourself

Kimonis believes that Suarez may have been acting out of frustration when he bit Chiellini, or simply trying to gain the upper hand as Uruguay battled for a place in the knockout stages of the tournament.

"Aggressive behaviour like biting and hitting may be reactive in response to a real or perceived threat, or proactive to achieve some sort of instrumental gain, such as dominance or possessions," she said.

"In the case of reactively aggressive acts, 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.

"For people with chronic aggression, cognitive behavioural therapies may be effective at helping the person to better identify when they are in an angry or frustrated state."

Suarez holds his teeth after colliding with Chiellini Suarez holds his teeth after colliding with Chiellini Clinical psychologist Dr. Corinne Reid from the School of Psychology and Exercise Science at Murdoch University in Western Australia, told Reuters there may be a team dimension to the striker's actions that would need examination.

"It would be important to check whether he thinks his behaviour is justified or acceptable," Reid said in an email.

"If he does, and if this view is endorsed, actively or passively, by his team mates or coaches then change is unlikely."

Uruguay captain Diego Lugano stuck up for Suarez in the post-game furore, slamming Chiellini for "crying and appealing against a rival". He also said: "As a man, he disappointed me totally."

Read more: Suarez is a target of the British press, claims his manager
Comment: Bite is just as potent as Zidane's headbutt
Suarez swerves Chiellini clash after match

Coach Oscar Tabarez also rowed in behind his errant striker, saying: "It seems there is this animosity toward him and he is being persecuted by past events."

Professor Reid said that while she agreed stress would be a factor in the Suarez case, it was by no means the only factor.

"All elite athletes have to deal with exceptional stress. All have a stress signature, not all - in fact very, very few - bite.

"It is also interesting to note how athletes react after a violent incident or stress reaction. Some athletes are instantly remorseful, embarrassed and ashamed of what they have done.

"They have a sense that it was wrong, and a sign of weakness, or a flaw in their performance. Others do not see it as a problem, minimise it or attempt to justify their actions."

Chiellini shows marks on his shoulder where he accused Suarez of biting him Chiellini shows marks on his shoulder where he accused Suarez of biting him In a post-match TV interview, Suarez admitted there was contact but described the incident as "one of those things that happens in football."

Reid, who also works with Australia's men's hockey team as senior clinical psychologist, said the 27-year-old could change the way he reacts in such situations but it would not be easy.

"If there is an acceptance that this is a problem then individual work on identifying and modifying his stress signature would be helpful," Reid added.

"This is not quick. Changing habits of a lifetime takes commitment, effort and persistence over months but the impact can be powerful."

Suarez and the Uruguayan FA have until 5 PM (2000 GMT) Brasilia time on Wednesday to respond.

Reuters

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
Sport
footballArsenal take the Community Shield thanks to a sensational strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arts and Entertainment
Gemma Chan as synth Anita in Humans
film
News
Keeping it friendly: Tom Cruise on ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ensemble cast: Jamie McCartney with ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
artBritish artist Jamie McCartney explains a work that is designed to put women's minds at rest
News
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen