Landon Donovan calls for 'lengthy suspensions' for El Salvador biters
Former United States star Landon Donovan called for CONCACAF to implement "lengthy suspensions" to counter biting incidents like those seen in Wednesday's Gold Cup match.
U.S. striker Jozy Altidore was bitten on the back of a shoulder by El Salvador's Henry Romero in the second half of the Americans' 2-0 quarterfinal win, before defender Omar Gonzalez was also gnawed by Darwin Cerin.
CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani told The Associated Press that a subset of the regional body's disciplinary committee will examine the report from the match commissioner, Randolph Harris of Barbados, and share it with the involved federations along with other evidence.
The subset group then will decide whether discipline is warranted, and Donovan, who called the game for Fox Sports, urged CONCACAF to deal out serious punishment.
"The only way to put a stop to this is to have lengthy suspensions," Donovan told the AP. "I understand that people make bad decisions in the heat of the moment, but it can never be acceptable to bite an opponent.
"I would assume that CONCACAF will take a particularly hard stance given their insistence on the captains speaking before each game about the importance of acting in an appropriate manner and that 'our children are watching.'"
Biting has been a major issue in the sport since Luis Suarez was suspended in three incidents: seven Dutch league matches in 2010 (PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal), 10 games in England in 2013 (Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic) and four months and nine international matches (Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during the 2014 World Cup).
"That set the precedent, and everything else will be longer than that," said ESPN analyst Steve McManaman. "It's incredible. It's been so unusual. We've had a raft of them in the last four to five years. Beforehand, you can't remember anything like that going on."
Romero also twisted Altidore's nipple during the jostling ahead of a corner kick. While the Americans had stinging criticism for the behavior, U.S. coach Bruce Arena said he couldn't fault Canadian referee Drew Fischer, a Major League Soccer regular, for not noticing the incidents away from the ball ahead of restarts.
Retired Premier League referee Peter Walton, now general manager of the Professional Referee Organization that oversees on-field officials in the U.S. and Canada, said video technology can be a solution.
FIFA experimented with Video Assistant Referees during this year's Confederations Cup and Under-20 World Cup, and MLS announced on Thursday that it would implement replays starting Aug. 5.
"Part of the protocol for the VAR is that they can identify serious missed incidents from the referee," Walton said. "Acts of violent conduct should be and ought to be picked up on VAR and then the information would be given to the referee to adjudicate."
Walton said MLS referees have become more proactive to limit the pushing and shoving that goes on ahead of restarts.
"What you'll find is that players will try to circumvent the law, and if that means they bring in other acts of disrepute, then that's maybe something officials need to be aware of," he said. "So whilst we're looking for the grappling, the grabbing, the tripping, the blocking, maybe we should be opening our repertoire to other areas of player behavior."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.