Luis Suarez was traded to Barcelona by Liverpool the day after a four-month ban from soccer for biting an opponent during a World Cup match was upheld.
Suarez, 27, was suspended from all soccer activity June 26 by governing body FIFA, two days after he bit defender Giorgio Chiellini near the end of Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy in the group phase of the World Cup. The striker had to sit out Uruguay’s 2-0 round-of-16 defeat to Colombia and will miss a further eight international games.
A FIFA committee yesterday rejected an appeal of the sanction, which keeps Suarez out of soccer until Oct. 26, although he can still go to the Court for Arbitration for Sport.
Barcelona and Liverpool didn’t disclose financial terms of the deal in statements on their websites today. According to the U.K.’s Daily Mirror, Liverpool will receive 75 million pounds ($128 million).
Five-time European champion Liverpool has calculated that it can let go a player who scored 82 goals in 133 appearances after a breakthrough year for Daniel Sturridge, who contributed 21 Premier League goals last season to finish second on that measure in England’s elite division behind Suarez, who had 31 goals.
The strike partnership -- known as the SAS after the British Army’s elite Special Air Service -- helped 18-time English champion Liverpool to improve to second place in the Premier League last season, from seventh the prior year.
“We would like to thank Luis for his contribution and the role he played in helping bring Champions League football back to Anfield,” Liverpool said in a statement on its website.
Barcelona, which won the Champions League three times from 2006 to 2011, hired former captain Luis Enrique Martinez as coach on May 20 after it ended the Spanish soccer season without a major trophy for the first time since 2008.
Barcelona is betting that a player with a long record of indiscipline will boost a forward line that stuttered following the departure of David Villa to Atletico Madrid a year ago.
In 2013, Suarez sat out 10 matches for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic. Three years earlier at Ajax, the Uruguayan got a seven-game ban for the same offense.
Suarez in 2012 also received an eight-game ban for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra and was jeered when he refused to shake the Frenchman’s hand before the start of a match after his punishment ended.
Suarez needs professional help to improve his behavior, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke told reporters in Rio de Janeiro three days before England’s Player of the Year apologized to Chiellini, saying he “deeply” regretted his actions.
“He should find a way to stop doing it,” Valcke said. “He should go through treatment because it’s definitely wrong.”
Barcelona Sporting Director Andoni Zubizarreta praised Suarez for taking responsibility for his actions after the player originally told FIFA’s disciplinary panel that he stumbled into Chiellini after losing his balance.
“He has been humble enough to apologize to those he has affected,” Zubizarreta said July 1. “In this case it’s the best thing a person can do.”