AFP/Reuters

NATAL

Troubled Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez looks almost certain to miss the rest of the World Cup after FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings against him following an evening of accusations he bit an Italian defender. A furious Giorgio Chiellini said he had been bitten by Suarez during the South Americans' 1-0 Group D victory at the World Cup on Tuesday, and photographs showed what appeared to be bite marks on his shoulder.

The probe means Suarez, twice previously banned for biting, looks set to be hit with another lengthy suspension despite escaping punishment during the match. "FIFA can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the player Luis Suarez of Uruguay," the world soccer body said.

"It was ridiculous not to send Suarez off," Chiellini told Rai TV. "It is clear, clear-cut and then there was the obvious dive afterwards because he knew very well that he did something that he shouldn't have done." Suarez contested the Italian's version of events, however. "Those are situations that happen on the pitch. We were both just there inside the area. He shoved me with his shoulder, and my eye got left like that also," he said in reference to Chiellini's mark.

Gambler’s delight: While Chiellini reacted with horror to being bitten by Suarez, a handful of gamblers in Scandinavia were celebrating as their unlikely bet came up trumps. Online bookmaker Betsafe had been offering odds of 175/1 that the Uruguayan would sink his teeth into an opponent during the World Cup. Sure enough, over 100 gamblers decided that it was worth a punt. When Suarez duly bit Chiellini, it was time to celebrate. One winner, Jonathan Braeck from Stenungssund in Sweden, bet 80 Swedish crowns ($12.04), and the 23-year-old substitute teacher is now set for a payout of 14,000 crowns for his wager.

Bite victim Holyfield joins Twitter talk: Suarez also sparked a Twitter storm with his bite scandal, from pictures of him with a muzzle to a reaction from once-bitten boxing legend Evander Holyfield. "I guess any part of the body is up for eating," wrote Holyfield, whose ear was partly chomped off by rival Mike Tyson in a 1997 heavyweight fight. Other social media users published photo montages of the Liverpool forward, who had been sanctioned twice before for biting players in the Netherlands and England. One picture shows him with the mask of Hannibal Lecter, the fictional, cannibalistic serial killer portrayed by Anthony Hopkins in "Silence of the Lambs." In another movie meme, Suarez replaced the shark in an old poster of the movie "Jaws" with the comment: "Someone call Steven Spielberg." Others have him sporting a dog's flea collar and many more with vampire fangs, or as part of the cast of the zombie television show "Walking Dead."

Tough childhood to blame: Suarez's propensity for biting opponents stems from his under-privileged childhood, a leading sports psychologist told the BBC. "The formative years of people's development do contribute to their personality. If you look at his history, Suarez had a fairly hard upbringing (he was one of seven children born into poverty), which would have been fighting for survival - he was streetwise," Dr Tom Fawcett from Salford University told the BBC on Wednesday. Fawcett claimed that nobody should be surprised at the incident which has yet to be proven. "If it's happened before, it'll happen again," Fawcett said. "Despite all the help, he's going to do it again."

European conspiracy: Suarez's lawyer believes there is a European campaign against the controversial striker. "We don't have any doubts that this has happened because it's Suarez and secondly because Italy was eliminated," said Uruguay FA board member Alejandro Balbi, who is also Suarez's lawyer. "There's a lot of pressure from England and Italy," Balbi told local Uruguayan radio. "We're polishing off a defence argument."