Monday 7 July 2014

Suarez - Did he bite?

The shout went up “He’s bitten him! Suarez has just bitten him!” 

It was the World Cup match between Uruguay and Italy, and both teams were playing for a place in the last 16. 

The game was tense, with pictures streaming in from the match in Brazil to the remote picture-editing centre we have set up in Miami. 

A television replay and it looked pretty certain that Uruguay’s Luis Suarez had bitten Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder in an off-the-ball incident. But you can never tell 100 percent when looking at TV. 

Chiellini was in no doubt though. He tried to show the referee tooth marks on his shoulder by pulling down his shirt.

We waited for the pictures to drop. Photographers Tony Gentile and Toru Hanai were sitting at the right end of the pitch. Tony was on the right side to get the picture

The pictures dropped in quickly, in sequence. Suarez on the ground holding his mouth. Chiellini holding his shoulder. 

Finally, we get the pictures of Chiellini pulling down his shirt to reveal marks on his shoulder. There are only 6 pictures, with one key frame below. 

At this stage we are unable to confirm what happened. We move the picture cropped wide to demonstrate what we do know - Chiellini is trying to show his shoulder to the referee.

We then look closely at the picture – you can clearly see marks, but are they teeth marks? We cannot confirm it. All we can do is show Chiellini’s shoulder and let the story take its own course. 

A tighter crop shows Chiellini’s face and his shoulder. Mindful of clients’ needs we crop the same picture into an upright shape. 

Lastly, we take some time and look at just how far we can crop the image to show the marks. Too close and the image quality breaks up. Too loose and we add nothing more to the images we have already sent. 

A final decision is made. We crop the picture, keeping in the fingers pulling down the shirt to draw the eye up and reveal the marks on Chiellini. His face is cropped out entirely, so no extra details detract from the picture. 

TV pundits and voices on social media were already calling for Suarez to be banned and punished. 

We had moved the pictures out. Uruguay score a goal and more pictures came streaming in. The game had moved on, but we all knew what the talking point was going to be and what picture was going to be used. 

Was it a bite? We have to wait for the FIFA ruling, but Tony Gentile’s photography offers a pretty clear picture.

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