Uruguay striker Luis Suarez sparked a Twitter storm with his World Cup bite scandal, from pictures of him with a muzzle to a reaction from once-bitten boxing legend Evander Holyfield.
Uruguay’s 1-0 victory over Italy on Tuesday, which qualified them to the second round at the European team’s expense, was overshadowed by allegations Suarez got away with biting defender Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder.
“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.
The incident made the front page of the New York Times web site, while the Huffington Post’s British version used the headline “Chewy Luis and the Blues.”
Suarez, meanwhile, shrugged the accusations that he bit Chiellini, telling Uruguayan television: “There are things that happen on the pitch, and you should not make such a big deal out of them.”
The Italian player was adamant Suarez had bitten him, showing his wound to the referee during the game and telling Italian television that he still had a mark after the game.
A picture showing Chiellini crying out in apparent pain and pulling down the top of his shirt to show apparent bite marks while Suarez rubbed his teeth went viral within minutes of the final whistle.
The Walking Suarez pic.twitter.com/IKNZCLqw9k
— GeniusFootball (@GeniusFootball) June 24, 2014
The controversy may have inspired puns and posters, but Suarez could face the bite of disciplinary action once more.
Highlighting the bite’s global impact, the 27-year-old star’s chomp was a top Twitter trending topic with the hashtag BanSuarez.
In 2010, while playing for Ajax in the Netherlands, he earned a seven-match suspension and was dubbed “The Cannibal of Ajax” after biting another player.
Three years later, he was handed a 10-match suspension for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic during an English Premier League game.
One Twitter user in the United States claimed a Norwegian had won a bet on whether Suarez would bite another opponent and cashed in at odds of 175-1.
A stake of 32 kronor (US$5) earned him a return of 5,600 (US$920).
Others saw an advertising windfall in the uproar.
— ReadJunk.com (@readjunk) June 24, 2014
Back in Uruguay, the local McDonald’s restaurant chain, using the Twitter handle McDonalds—Uy, wrote: “Hi luis16suarez, if you’re still hungry come and have a bite of a BigMac”.