Luis Suarez was banned from soccer for four months and suspended for Uruguay’s next nine international matches by the sport’s governing body for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during a World Cup match in Brazil.
The 27-year-old striker will miss the rest of the tournament, including Uruguay’s round of 16 match June 28 against Colombia after the decision by FIFA’s disciplinary panel. He also will be out for 20 Liverpool games, the second season in a row that a suspension has caused him to miss the start of the English Premier League season for biting.
Uruguay may appeal the suspension, though Suarez won’t be permitted to play against Colombia even during an appeal, FIFA said during a news conference in Rio de Janeiro. During the four-month ban Suarez won’t be allowed to enter any stadium. Suarez also was fined 100,000 Swiss francs ($112,000).
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“Such behavior cannot be tolerated on any football pitch, and in particular not at a FIFA World Cup when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field,” Claudio Sulser, chairman of FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee, said in a statement. “The Disciplinary Committee took into account all the factors of the case and the degree of Mr. Suarez’s guilt in accordance with the relevant provisions of the code. The decision comes into force as soon it is communicated.”
Uruguay’s minister of tourism and sport Liliam Kechichian said the ruling was too severe and was planning to discuss the matter with President Jose Mujica today.
“This disproportionate sanction hurts us,” Kechichian said in comments posted on her Twitter account. “We now need to see how we help the human being.”
Alejandro Balbi, Suarez’s lawyer and a Uruguayan Football Association board member, told Sports 890 radio that the player will travel to Spain today to speak to his lawyers and coordinate his appeal. He said in a text message that the association would challenge the ruling.
Liverpool will review the report from the FIFA’s disciplinary committee before commenting, Ian Ayre, the club’s chief executive officer, said on the team’s website. Suarez was named Player of the Year in England’s top division this season after scoring a league-high 31 goals.
Suarez will miss the exhibition matches leading up to the start of Liverpool’s season and nine English Premier League games, including the Aug. 23 visit to champion Manchester City. He will be eligible to return against Newcastle on Nov. 1. Last season, there were three Champions League match days before Oct. 25.
Liverpool’s odds of winning the league title dropped with the suspension. U.K. bookmaker William Hill Plc (WMH) cut the team’s chances to 7-1 from 6-1. That means a successful $1 bet would return $7 plus the original stake. Manchester City is favorite at 13-8, with Chelsea at 2-1.
FIFA began disciplinary proceedings after video appeared to show Suarez biting Chiellini during the June 24 match in Natal. The incident happened just before Uruguay got the only goal of the game on Diego Godin’s 81st-minute goal from a corner kick. Uruguay advanced with the victory and Italy was eliminated.
The incident may affect an endorsement contract between Adidas AG (ADS) and Suarez, who has had two previous league bans for biting players. The German maker of sports goods said it supports FIFA’s decision.
“Adidas certainly does not condone Luis Suarez’s recent behavior and we will again be reminding him of the high standards we expect from our players,” the company said today in an e-mailed statement. “We have no plan to use Suarez for any additional marketing activities during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.”
Chiellini said in a television interview that Suarez’s teeth left a mark on his shoulder and referee Marco Rodriguez of Mexico ignored calls for the Uruguayan to be disciplined.
“I don’t have it anymore, but the mark was there when I was on the field, but the referee didn’t see it,” the Italian said. “There has to be measures for these type of things.”
Suarez in 2012 received an eight-game ban for racially abusing Manchester United (MANU) defender Patrice Evra and was jeered when he refused to shake the Frenchman’s hand before the start of a later match.
A year later, Suarez was suspended for 10 matches for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during a game. Suarez got a seven-game suspension in 2010 for biting an opponent when he played for Dutch team Ajax.
Suarez, who scored both goals in a 2-1 win over England on June 21, also has a tainted World Cup record. He used his hand to stop a goal-bound shot in a World Cup quarterfinal against Ghana in 2010, then celebrated in the tunnel after being dismissed from the game when Ghana missed the resulting penalty kick. Uruguay won the match in extra time.
Ronaldo, a retired Brazilian national team player and World Cup winner, said the sport has to police itself.
“Football has to set an example, use the good example of players and those that step out of the line should be punished,” he said. “Football has to be used only to do good.”
To contact the reporters on this story: Juan Pablo Spinetto in Rio de Janeiro at firstname.lastname@example.org; Tariq Panja in Rio de Janeiro at email@example.com; David Biller in Rio de Janeiro at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at email@example.com Michael Sillup