RECIFE, Brazil — Luis Sanchez could be hit with a harsh suspension today when FIFA announces the findings of its investigation into charges the Uruguay striker bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini on the left shoulder during Tuesday’s World Cup game in Natal.
Moments after the incident, which took place with FIFA President Sepp Blatter looking on, Uruguay scored the game’s only goal to advance to the tournament’s second round while Italy was eliminated.
FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, announced Wednesday that it had opened a disciplinary case against Suarez. The Uruguayan soccer federation had until 5 p.m. Wednesday, local time, to present its defense of Suarez, who has been suspended twice in his career for biting incidents in the Dutch Eredivisie and the English Premier League.
FIFA’s disciplinary committee has several punishments it can choose from, ranging from a three-game suspension that would allow Suarez to return for the World Cup final should Uruguay make it that far to a maximum two-year ban that would cover all sanctioned soccer games, not just those involving the national team.
Given that Uruguay’s next World Cup game is Saturday against Colombia, FIFA may opt for a shorter penalty since suspensions of fewer than three matches and not longer than two months cannot be appealed. The longest previous suspension for an on-field incident at a World Cup is eight games, levied against Italy’s Mauro Tassotti after he broke the nose of a Spanish opponent during a 1994 game.
Suarez’s attack was not caught by the referee, Mexico’s Marco Rodriguez. But FIFA rules allow the use of video or “any other evidence” to punish players after the fact. Both still and television images captured the incident as well as obvious puncture marks on Chiellini’s shoulder.
FIFA has already handed out one lengthy suspension in this tournament, banning Cameroon midfielder Alex Song for three games after he was ejected from his team’s game with Croatia for striking opponent Mario Mandzukic in the back with an elbow.
Wednesday’s Matches Argentina 3, Nigeria 2
Porto Alegre, Brazil — Lionel Messi continued his scoring tear by bagging a brace at the Estadio Beira-Rio on Wednesday, but it was Marcos Rojo’s second-half strike that gave Argentina a 3-2 victory over Nigeria.
Messi opened the scoring in the third minute but saw his strike immediately canceled out by Ahmed Musa.
The Barcelona man put Argentina back in front just before halftime with an exquisite free kick, only to see Musa answer on the opposite side of the interval to bring Nigeria back on level terms.
But the winner was reserved for Rojo, who became just the second Argentine player to score a goal at the 2014 World Cup.
Messi now has amassed four goals in this year’s tournament to climb level with Brazil’s Neymar for the lead in the race for the Golden Boot.
The 27-year-old has been the star man for Argentina, which secured first place in Group F with Wednesday’s win.
Nigeria, meanwhile, advanced to the knockout round despite the loss as Iran was unable to beat Bosnia-Herzegovina in Wednesday’s other Group F fixture.
Bosnia-Herzegovina 3, Iran 1
Salvador, Brazil — Bosnia-Herzegovina exited its inaugural World Cup on a high note on Wednesday, notching a 3-1 win over Iran at the Arena Fonte Nova.
Bosnia was a bit unlucky to lose a pair of one-goal games to start the tournament, but the team goes home with its first World Cup win after Miralem Pjanic scored a goal and assisted on another, while Edin Dzeko and Avdija Vrsajevic also found the net for the Bosnians.
Iran entered the contest with a chance to advance, but the team needed to beat Bosnia and have Argentina top Nigeria in the other Group F match.
And while Argentina did its part, Iran fell behind 2-0 in the first hour of the game before scoring its only goal of the tournament in the 82nd minute through Reza Ghoochannejhad.
Ghoochannejhad gave his team a bit of a lift when he turned home a cross from Javad Nekounam eight minutes from time, only for Bosnia to answer back one minute later through Vrsajevic, who drove a low shot inside the far post from a tight angle to seal the win.
Switzerland 3, Honduras 0
Manaus, Brazil — Switzerland advanced to the second round at the World Cup on Wednesday as the team notched a 3-0 win over Honduras courtesy of Xherdan Shaqiri’s hat trick, allowing the Swiss to finish in second place in Group E.
Switzerland entered the match at the Arena Amazonia level on three points with Ecuador, meaning the Swiss needed a better result than the South American side to advance.
And Shaqiri got things started early by opening the scoring in the sixth minute. The Bayern Munich winger then doubled his tally in the 31st, while he became the first Swiss player to score a hat trick in a World Cup match since 1954 when he netted his third goal 19 minutes from time.
The result, combined with Ecuador’s 0-0 draw against France, means that Switzerland will now face Group F winners Argentina in the round of 16 on Sunday, while Honduras exits the tournament after three successive defeats.
France 0, Ecuador 0
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — France secured top spot in Group E on Wednesday by getting a 0-0 draw with 10-man Ecuador at the Maracana.
Les Bleus, who entered the final match of the group stage with six points from their first two matches, were a virtual certainty to reach the knockout round thanks to their emphatic wins against Honduras and Switzerland.
Needing only a draw to lock up first place, France neutralized the attacking threat of Ecuador, which had been reduced to 10 men following Antonio Valencia’s straight red card in the 50th minute.
La Tri, unable to conjure a goal, finishes third in Group E to become the lone South American nation to miss out on the knockout round.
Tuesday’s Results COSTA RICA 0, ENGLAND 0
Belo Horizonte, Brazil — Costa Rica claimed the top spot in Group D on Tuesday after holding England to a scoreless draw at the Estadio Mineirao.
Few had Costa Rica pegged to accomplish much in the “group of champions”, but Los Ticos proved their mettle earlier in the tournament with wins over Uruguay and Italy in their first two group-stage matches.
Both sides created ample scoring chances over the course of Tuesday’s 90 minutes, but the finishing was just a tad off as Costa Rica claimed the point it needed to win Group D.
Los Ticos will face Greece on Sunday, while England finished its group campaign with just one point and secured its worst-ever World Cup placing.
URUGUAY 1, ITALY 0
Natal, Brazil — Diego Godin nodded Uruguay into the knockout round, scoring on an 81st-minute header to give his nation a 1-0 victory over 10-man Italy at the Estadio das Dunas on Tuesday.
Italy, which needed just a draw to advance, was reduced to 10 men when Claudio Marchisio was issued a straight red card for a dangerous challenge on Egidio Arevalo in the 59th minute.
Uruguay eventually took advantage of the extra man as Godin turned in a corner kick from Gaston Ramirez nine minutes from time.
GREECE 2, IVORY COAST 1
Fortaleza, Brazil — The Ivory Coast pressed the self- destruct button at the Estadio Castelao on Tuesday, conceding a late penalty to bow out of the competition behind a 2-1 loss to Greece.
The Elephants appeared to on the verge of securing their first-ever spot in the knockout round of the World Cup after Andreas Samaris and Wilfried Bony exchanged goals on either side of halftime, but Greece was handed a lifeline in stoppage time when Giovanni Sio committed a poor foul in the penalty area.
Giorgios Samaras stepped up for the ensuing attempt and converted with great aplomb, sending the Greeks through to the round of 16 where they will meet Costa Rica on Sunday.
COLOMBIA 4, JAPAN 1
Cuiaba, Brazil — Jackson Martinez netted a second-half double as Colombia completed its group-stage campaign with an unblemished record on Tuesday, earning a 4-1 result over Japan to top Group C with nine points at the Arena Pantanal.
The Colombians opened the World Cup with a comfortable 3-0 rout of Greece on June 14 and followed it up with a 2-1 win against the Ivory Coast five days later, allowing the side to win the group on Tuesday with just a draw.
Jose Pekerman’s team opened the scoring in the 17th minute through a penalty kick from Juan Carlos Cuadrado, but Japan pulled back the equalizer in first- half stoppage time through Shinji Okazaki.
Jackson Martinez netted the winner 10 minutes into the second half, before adding a second goal eight minutes from time, while Monaco midfielder James Rodriguez chipped in with two brilliant assists and a goal to hand the points and the group summit to Colombia, which will face Group D runners-up Uruguay on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro.