RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Luis Suarez told FIFA's disciplinary panel that he did not deliberately bite Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.
The Uruguay striker's defense that he lost balance and fell on his opponent will now be presented to FIFA's appeal panel, after his national federation notified FIFA late Friday it would challenge the nine-match, four-month ban.
''In no way it happened how you have described, as a bite or intent to bite,'' Suarez wrote in Spanish in a letter dated June 25.
The player's defense is in paragraph 6 of FIFA's disciplinary committee ruling, which has been seen by The Associated Press.
''After the impact ... I lost my balance, making my body unstable and falling on top of my opponent,'' Suarez wrote in his submission to the panel which met Wednesday, one day after Uruguay beat Italy 1-0 in a decisive group-stage match.
''At that moment I hit my face against the player leaving a small bruise on my cheek and a strong pain in my teeth,'' Suarez said.
However, the seven-man panel which met on Wednesday evening dismissed the argument.
The bite was ''deliberate, intentional and without provocation,'' the ruling stated in paragraph No. 26 of the panel's conclusions.
Suarez was banned for nine Uruguay matches and four months from all football. He was also fined 100,000 Swiss francs ($112,000).
The panel, chaired by former Switzerland international Claudio Sulser, included members from the Cook Islands, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Panama, South Africa and Singapore.
On Saturday, FIFA confirmed that formal proceedings had begun to challenge the longest ban for a World Cup player in 20 years.
''We have a declaration that they are planning to appeal,'' FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer said. The Uruguay federation now has seven days to submit written grounds for the appeal.
Back in Montevideo, Suarez has been welcomed home as a hero by Uruguay fans.
''I'm writing this message to express thanks for the outpouring of support and affection that I'm getting. Both me and my family really appreciate it,'' Suarez said Saturday on his Twitter account.
''Thank you very much for being on my side and I want all of us to support our teammates today in the match against Colombia,'' he wrote, ahead of Uruguay's Round of 16 match at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
FIFA's disciplinary ruling confirmed that Suarez's bite was missed by referee Marco Rodriguez of Mexico, who acknowledged the oversight in his match report. So did his two assistants and the fourth official.
''I haven't seen the incident because the ball was in another sector of the pitch,'' Rodriguez writes in paragraph No. 4 of witness submissions in the 11-page document.
FIFA's verdict was welcomed by Brazilian great Pele.
''FIFA's decision was good, it was correct, because they had to set an example,'' he was quoted as telling Folha de S. Paulo newspaper. ''If this example hadn't been given quickly, it could spread (the bad behavior on the pitch). This example shouldn't be copied by anyone. I think it was fair because it serves as a parameter going forward.''
GALLERY: Biting in Sports
Biting In Sports
Luis Suarez and Giorgio Chiellini
With Uruguay chasing a result it would eventually get, Suarez appeared to bite Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini, marking the third time he has sunk his teeth into an opponent. Suarez is under intense scrutiny for just about everything he does, so the fact that this is an issue again is just an asinine development. Chiellini pulled his shirt down to show the marks to referee Marco Rodriguez -- who, ironically, is nicknamed ChiquiDracula -- but Suarez was not disciplined for the incident. The powers that be at FIFA might act differently.
Luis Suarez and Branislav Ivanovic
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez of Uruguay bit Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic's arm during a Premier League match on April 21, 2013, before scoring his 30th goal of the season - a last-gasp equalizer - to clinch a 2-2 draw. "For my unacceptable behavior yesterday, the club has fined me today,'' Suarez wrote on his Twitter and Facebook accounts. Suarez did not face a police investigation after Ivanovic said he did not want to press charges. "He had no apparent physical injuries and did not wish to make a complaint,'' Merseyside Police said in a statement. Suarez was suspended for seven matches in 2010 while playing for Ajax after biting a player.
Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield
In the most famous biting incident in sports history, Mike Tyson took a chunk of Evander Holyfield's ear during the third round of their June 1997 heavyweight match. Tyson was disqualified and fined $3 million.
Alex Burrows and Patrice Bergeron
Canucks winger Alex Burrows appeared to bite the right finger of Bruins center Patrice Bergeron during the first game of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. Bergeron was seen wearing a bandage on his finger after the game. Mike Murphy, the NHL's Senior Vice President of Operations, announced the following day that Burrows would not be suspended for the incident. "After reviewing the incident, including speaking with the on-ice officials, I can find no conclusive evidence that Alex Burrows intentionally bit the finger of Patrice Bergeron," Murphy wrote in a release issued by the NHL.
Jarkko Ruutu and Andrew Peters
In 2009, Senators right wing Jarko Ruutu made headlines after he allegedly bit the thumb of Sabres' enforcer Andrew Peters. Though Ruutu denied the incident, he was suspended for two games and fined $31,700.
Mikhail Grabovski and Max Pacioretty
Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski faced a disciplinary hearing with the NHL after he was accused of biting Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty during a fight at 11:30 of the third period in Toronto's 6-0 win over Montreal on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013. Grabovski received a 10-minute misconduct and a roughing minor after the scuffle. Pacioretty was also issued a 10-minute misconduct for the play in which he emerged showing his wrist to the officials, claiming that Grabovski had put the chomp on him. Grabovski got off without being disciplined by the league, but he is hardly the first NHL player who's been accused of biting. As former head coach Craig MacTavish once said, "Guys get hungry...in the third period."
Claude Lemieux and Jim Peplinski
One of the most famous NHL incidents occurred during the 1986 Stanley Cup Final when Canadiens agitator Claude Lemieux (left) got into a scrap with Calgary's Jim Peplinski. Lemieux scratched at Peplinski's eyes and the bit the Flames' forward's finger to the bone. "I was skating to the penalty box and showed the bloody finger to (referee) Denis Morel," Peplinski later recalled to the Toronto Globe and Mail . "He said, 'How do I know you didn't do it to yourself?'" Peplinski got a tetanus shot and remarked, "I didn't know they allowed cannibalism in the NHL." Here's the video of the incident .
Tree Rollins and Danny Ainge
During 1983 playoffs, Atlanta's Tree Rollins bit Boston's Danny Ainge during a brawl. The headline in the papers the next day famously read, "Tree Bites Man."
In 2001, Sevilla midfielder Francisco Gallardo celebrated a goal by teammate Jose Antonio Reyes by biting on Reyes' genitals. Gallardo was fined and suspended for the celebration by the Royal Spanish Football Federation, which said the move violated standards of "sporting dignity and decorum."
Muhammad Ali and Ron Lyle
Muhammad Ali looks as if he is biting Ron Lyle's arm during their heavyweight bout in Las Vegas in 1975. Ali won with an 11th round TKO.
Jerry Tarkanian chews on his towel while watching his Runnin' Rebels take on Duke in the 1990 championship game. UNLV would go on to win 103-73.
Thunder forward Serge Ibaka bites a stuffed animal during the 2011 NBA All-Star Saturday Night slam dunk contest in Los Angeles.
Kevin Barry and David Tua
Manager Kevin Barry teases David Tua by nibbling his ear while he posed for photos at a training facility in Las Vegas.
Tim Hague and Joey Beltran
Tim Hague samples the knee of Joey Beltran during their heavyweight bout at UFC 113 in Montreal. Beltran would win by unanimous decision.
Fin and Anne Heche
Fin, the mascot of the Vancouver Canucks, takes a bite of actress Anne Heche during a game at General Motors Place in Vancouver.
Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade
Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade test the authenticity of their medals after defeating Spain 118-107 to claim top prize.
Marc Lopez and Rafael Nadal
Marc Lopez and Rafael Nadal of Spain bite their trophies after defeating Daniel Nestor of Canada and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia in the doubles final during the 2009 ATP Qatar Tennis Open in Doha, Qatar.
Bulls guard Michael Jordan chews his jersey following a call against him during a game against Seattle.
Alex Ovechkin tries out his stick during the skills competition of the 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend.
Tiger Woods bites his club after his second shot on the 11th hole during the final round of the 2009 Memorial golf tournament in Dublin, Ohio. Woods chipped in for eagle on the hole.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga takes a healthy bite out of a tennis ball after missing a point against Juan Martin del Potro during the 2008 Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai.
Dinara Safina chomps on her racket while taking on Li Na during the singles semifinal of the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing.
The Raptor devours an usher during a game between Toronto and Miami.
Jay and Chase Buhner
Mariners rightfielder Jay Buhner and son Chase share a bat while appearing on a 1996 SI cover.
Minnesota goalie Anton Khudobin samples the puck after beating Vancouver 2-0 to record his first career shutout.
Sam Walker chews on a golf ball as he waits to tee off on the third hole of the Portugal Masters.
White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin digs into his bat during a game against the Mariners.
Mardy Gilyard and Ricardo Mathews
Mardy Gilyard and Ricardo Mathews of the Cincinnati Bearcats enjoyed some oranges after a 2008 victory over Syracuse. The Bearcats defeated the Orange 30-10 to claim the Big East title and a spot in the Orange Bowl.
Mike Francesa and Chris Russo
Former WFAN radio personality Chris "Mad Dog" Russo with partner Mike Francesa. The two hosted a radio show together in New York City for two decades.
Mets pitcher Oliver Perez shows his disgust after giving up a run to the Braves in 2006.
A member of the University of Georgia color guard reacts as UGA VI leaps at a flag before the start of Georgia's 2004 game against Georgia Southern. UGA V made headlines in 1996, when he lunged at Auburn receiver Robert Baker after Baker scored a touchdown.
Texas quarterback Vince Young clenches a rose after the Longhorns defeated Colorado to advance to the 2006 Rose Bowl.
Paula Creamer bites her club after her chip shot on the 18th green rolled in for a birdie during the third round of the LPGA Tournament of Champions in Mobile, Ala.
Potito Starace samples the net after missing an easy shot during his semifinal match against Juergen Melzer at the 2008 Austrian Open in Kitzbuehel, Austria.