Biting is still not worse than spitting, says ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas

Luis Suarez, Liverpool

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USA TODAY Sports

Biting may be the talk of the soccer world after Liverpool's Luis Suárez (above) sunk his teeth into the arm of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during a Sunday EPL match.

But there's still nothing worse than spitting.

That's according to US national team legend and current ESPN broadcaster Alexi Lalas, who still ranks hurling saliva at an opponent as the worst of the player-on-player illegal offenses on a soccer field.

"I'd rather you bite me or kick me in the groin," Lalas said on Monday. "Just don't spit at me. Spitting represents the most vile, condescending act that a player on the field can commit. I would rather you walk up and punch me in the face than spit at me. Even after this weekend's events, it's still No. 1."

As a former player, Lalas has seen it all: strategic pinching (think love handles), hair pulling, getting the ball kicked at him after a whistle ("I don't like that at all," Lalas says).

But he never saw biting before Sunday.

"The look in [Suárez's] eyes is something I've seen on other players when they've been irritated to the point where they're seeing red and feel they have to do something," said Lalas, who says a three-game suspension for Suárez should be an automatic. "In the past, I don't think biting has ever occurred to players. It wasn't something I've ever been a part of or seen while on the field."

Well, it's a reality in soccer now. Too late for Lalas, who perhaps would have adopted the Suárez tactic in the case of one forward in particular.

"If I were to have bitten somebody, who would I have bitten?" Lalas said when asked in jest. "I'm pretty sure that if I had to actually play against Carlos Ruiz [ex-LA teammate and current D.C. United forward], I probably would have taken a nibble."

Alexi Lalas' Top 5 Most Despicable Acts on a Soccer Field:

1. Spitting
2. Biting
3. Headbutting
4. Off the ball blows to groin or face
5. Foul language involving slurs