Gareth Barry, the Everton midfielder that Diego Costa had a run-in with during Chelsea’s defeat to the Blues on Saturday, has denied that the striker bit him during a melee towards the end of the FA Cup quarter-final.
The pair came together in a clash, with the Brazilian born Spanish striker nudging Barry with his head before appearing to bite him. Both players were shown a yellow card by Michael Oliver, the match referee, with Costa being forced to leave the field of play as it was his second yellow card offence of the match.
The Football Association are awaiting the referee’s official match report before deciding whether they should take action against Chelsea’s main striker. The notoriously combustible player was a target for Everton’s players, according to his manager Guus Hiddink. He said, “Costa was chased a bit in the game, they tried to provoke him”.
Former Premier League referee Howard Webb, who notoriously missed a number of violent incidents when he refereed the World Cup final between Spain and Holland in 2010, told BBC Radio 5 live that he felt certain Costa would receive a reprimand from the FA, though not for the supposed ‘bite’. He said, “I’ll be amazed if Costa is not punished for his reaction after the second yellow card. He fails to leave the field of play, he is aggressive again to Michael Oliver and referees are always told to report that situation. That can lead to another match ban. From what I’ve seen of the footage [of the bite], it is not sufficient to support a charge for violent conduct retrospectively”.
Everton midfielder Barry, who was himself later sent off for a second yellow card offence after a tackle on Cesc Fabregas, backed up the view that Costa hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary. He told BBC Radio 5 live’s Sportsweek, “It’s difficult to get too self-righteous when you’re in my position, but what we have to remember is nobody has died. It’s a game of football. You have had two grown men basically square up, no punches have been thrown, nothing serious has happened, both have gone home to their families, one team has lost, one team has won. We have to be careful not to get too carried away. We have to remember what makes football football. It’s that kind of thing, it’s goals, it’s playing on the edge, it’s high intensity, it’s high passion. That’s why we do what we do, that’s why we love watching football”.
Former Liverpool player Luis Suarez was banned for ten matches after he was found guilty of biting Branislav Ivanovic in April of 2013. The Uruguayan was also banned for four months in August 2014 after biting Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup, so many believe that Costa will be fortunate to escape without a lengthy ban given that the video footage appears to show him attempt to bite Barry during the coming-together of the two players.
The sending of was the first time that Costa has been shown a red card during his Chelsea career, despite receiving a number of retrospective bans from the FA for violent conduct during his time so far at Stamford Bridge.