Biting incident at Euro 2021: Rudiger appears to bite Paul Pogba’s back in France vs. Germany


We might have another biting incident on our hands, courtesy of the Euro 2021 tournament.

Germany defender Antonio Rudiger appeared to lean in and take a bite out of Paul Pogba’s back as he was staying close to mark him during the first half of their Euros 2021 group match.

Pogba approached Spanish referee Carlos del Cerro Grande, apparently to alert him to the episode, but no action was taken. France was leading Germany 1-0 at the time on a 20th minute own goal by German defender Mats Hummels.


MORE: Ronaldo breaks records at Euro 2021

The video of the bite is making the rounds on social media, as are the reactions from fans and media:


Paul Pogba: “He nibbled a little bit”

After the match, Pogba did his best to defuse the incident.

“We’re friends,” Pogba said. “This was nothing big. I think you saw the TV pictures, this is all over, this belongs to the past. I’m not crying for yellow or red cards for such actions. He nibbled, I think, a little bit on me.

“We’ve known each other for a long time,” he continued. “I felt it, I told the referee, he takes the decisions and he took the decision. He hasn’t received any card and I think it’s better like this. I don’t want him to be suspended because of this.”


Ex-players, referee weigh in

Former English and Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg, who is serving as ESPN’s rules expert during the Euros, gave his analysis on-air as to how the officials likely handled it, especially with video review available to them:

“It’s very difficult to see what Rudiger actually does. He opens his mouth. He could’ve said something. There could’ve been banter between the pair of them,” he told ESPN commentators Jon Champion and Taylor Twellman. “It’s very difficult to prove that he sunk his teeth into Pogba’s back. Therefore, the VAR would have looked at it, checked it and then informed the referee that there was nothing that the pictures told that it could’ve been a red card.

“Very difficult to prove,” Clattenburg continued. “Very, very difficult to prove.”


Former France international midfielder Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane were on the ITV broadcast together and here’s how they reacted at halftime: 

“When you see Pogba’s reaction, it felt like a bite,” Vieira said. “I don’t see what Rudiger was doing there.”

“It wasn’t a proper bite, was it?” Keane added. “But, a silly thing to do.”


Fellow broadcaster and Arsenal legend Ian Wright was less certain: “If he’s bitten him there he’s going to flinch, and he’s not flinched at all,” Wright said. “I don’t know what’s happened there.”

Memories of Uruguay’s Luis Suarez

The episode immediately brings to mind the most high-profile biting incident in global soccer involving Uruguayan star striker Luis Suarez. He became infamous for multiple in-game bites during his career.

First he did it in a Dutch league match in 2010 and was suspended for seven games. It happened again in the English Premier League in 2013 and he was banned for 10 games.


But the most prominent episode involving Suarez occurred on the biggest stage of them all: the FIFA World Cup. Suarez was found guilty by FIFA of biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in the 2014 World Cup and he was suspended for four months on top of a separate international suspension of nine matches with Uruguay.


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