With the latest Luis Suarez biting incident (which is a remarkable sentence) dominating World Cup discussion today, let’s provide a bit of historical context. As is being mentioned in some news reports today about the possible repercussions for Suarez, the longest ban FIFA has given for a World Cup incident was the 8-match ban given to Italy’s Mauro Tassotti after he broke Luis Enrique’s nose with a vicious elbow in the 1994 quarterfinals. Let’s go to the video:
It can be argued that Tassotti’s elbow was clearly a much more dangerous action than Suarez’s (cf the discussion on yesterday’s Guardian World Cup Football Daily pod).
In the 1–2 quarter-final defeat against Italy, Mauro Tassotti’s elbow made contact with [Enrique’s] face to bloody effect, the action being of such impact that he reportedly lost a pint of blood as a result, but during the match the incident went unpunished – Tassotti was banned for eight games afterwards, and never played internationally again; when Spain met Italy at Euro 2008 on 22 June, to battle for a place in the semi-finals, Luis Enrique reportedly called for the team to “take revenge” on Italy for the 1994 World Cup incident. Tassotti, now an assistant coach at A.C. Milan, told Marca newspaper that he was tired of always being reminded of this incident, and that he had never intended to hurt the Spaniard.
Asides: Enrique is of course the new Barcelona manager, and among the Spain players in that video is Miguel Ángel Nadal, Rafa’s uncle (nickname: The Beast of Barcelona (<–interview with Sid Lowe published 11 Sept 2001) and the infamous Andoni Goikoetxea (nickname: The Butcher of Bilbao). Reminders perhaps that the beautiful game was much more vicious in previous decades than it is today.