Luis Suarez says he is getting help in order to control his “impulse” to bite.
The Uruguayan forward, who is expected to make his Barcelona competitive debut against Real Madrid on Saturday following a summer move from Liverpool, was initially banned by FIFA from all football-related activity for four months for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup.
The severity of the ban was lessened on appeal, meaning he was at least allowed to train and play in friendlies.
The unsavoury incident with Chiellini in Brazil was the third time Suarez had bitten an opponent after previously doing the same to PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal while playing for Ajax in 2010 and Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic while at Liverpool in 2013.
“I believe I am on the right path now, dealing with the people who can help me, the right kind of people,” he told the Guardian Weekend magazine.
“It is like an impulse, like a reaction. Everyone has different ways of defending themselves. In my case, the pressure and tension came out in that way.
“There are other players who react by breaking someone’s leg, or smashing someone’s nose across their face. What happened with Chiellini is seen as worse. I understand why biting is seen so badly.”
The 27-year-old remains unrepentant, however, over the clash with Manchester United’s Patrice Evra in October 2011 when he said he called the French defender a ’negro’.
Suarez was found guilty of racially abusing Evra and was subsequently banned for eight matches and fined £40,000 by the Football Association.
“I know I was wrong with the biting and the diving but I was accused of racism without any proof,” Suarez said.
“There were lots of cameras, but no evidence. It hurts me the most that it was my word against theirs.
“Every culture has its way of expressing itself, and that’s a word people in Uruguay use all the time, whether somebody’s black or not black.”