The governing body of world football, FIFA, has begun disciplinary proceedings against Uruguay striker Luis Suarez after he appeared to bite an Italian player during a World Cup match in Brazil.
Video footage shows 27-year-old Suarez pressing his mouth into the shoulder of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during their Group D match on Tuesday. The players clashed in the Italian penalty area 10 minutes from the end of the 1-nil win which sealed Uruguay's progression and Italy's elimination from the tournament.
Both players flopped to the ground holding their faces. Chiellini then furiously pulled open his shirt to show the mark to the referee. Photographs show what appeared to be bite marks on the 29-year-old's shoulder and pictures also showed Suarez sitting on the ground holding his teeth immediately after the incident, Reuters reports.
A statement issued by FIFA said Suarez and the Uruguayan soccer association had until 5pm (local time) on Wednesday to "provide their position and any documentary evidence they deem relevant".
Suarez later told Uruguayan television: "These are just things that happen out on the pitch. It was just the two of us inside the area and he bumped into me with his shoulder. There are things that happen on the pitch and you should not make such a big deal out of them."
FIFA have acted swiftly in opening the case against Suarez. The evidence potentially from referees, players and TV footage will be considered by the governing body's independent disciplinary committee. They have the power to punish players for incidents that go unseen by match officials, the BBC reports.
FIFA say Luis Suarez has potentially committed a breach of its misconduct and offensive behaviour regulations. A lengthy ban awaits if the charges are upheld. The maximum ban Suarez could face if Fifa takes retrospective action is 24 matches or two years.
Suarez has been banned for biting twice previously. In April 2013 he was banned for 10 games for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during a Premier League match, and copped a seven-game ban for biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal's shoulder while Ajax captain in 2010.