Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Luis Suarez’s bite has many questioning his mental health

Uruguay's Luis Suarez holds his teeth after running into Italy's Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder during the group D World Cup soccer match between Italy and Uruguay at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014.

Ricardo Mazalan/AP

Luis Suarez has earned infamy once again for biting an opposing player in Tuesday's World Cup match between Uruguay and Italy. It's the third time Suarez has bit someone on the pitch.

Many are now questioning the 27-year-old's mental health.

"It could be a childhood coping mechanism, this habitual response of biting when you're in a stressful situation, that he has carried into adulthood," says Latchman Narain, founder and director of the Anger Management Centre of Toronto.

Story continues below advertisement

Suarez's latest attack on an opponent came with only about 10 minutes left in the game, with the score tied 0-0, "so most likely there was high tension and high stress," Dr. Narain says.

Aggression in games often occurs when the clock is running out and pressure is peaking, after all.

"It's in those really tense situations that when those emotions can come to a boil," says Katherine Tamminen, an associate professor at the University of Toronto's faculty of kinesiology and physical education, whose research focuses on stress, coping and emotion in sport.

Former professional soccer player Stan Collymore is advocating for Suarez to receive treatment in addition to whatever punishment FIFA doles out.

"For me, an evaluation should be made of his mental health, and any ban or fine should take that information into consideration," Collymore writes in a guest column for Bleacher Report.

Others have jumped straight to armchair diagnoses. Suarez has a "pathological problem," according to the Telegraph's chief sports writer.

This certainly is not an isolated incident. Suarez received a seven-game suspension for biting an opponent when he was playing for Ajax in 2010. He was suspended for 10 games after biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic during a Premier League game last year.

Story continues below advertisement

As of Wednesday, FIFA was still deciding what, if any, disciplinary action to take against Suarez for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.

One of the goals of anger management would be getting Suarez to be aware of how his behaviour may impact on his future career, Narain says.

If Suarez can't yet see how biting other players might hurt his life as a professional player, others are certainly worrying for him.

"I fear for his career," Gordon Taylor, head of the England-based Professional Footballers' Association, told the BBC on Tuesday.

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.