Uruguay striker Luis Suarez lost an appeal against the four-month ban from soccer he received for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.
However, he will be able to begin training with his new club Barcelona, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, or CAS, said in an e-mailed statement. Suarez transferred to the Spanish club from Liverpool following the June 24 biting incident.
The CAS found that the ban “from any football-related activity” was excessive. The four-month suspension now applies to official matches only. Suarez will train with Barcelona tomorrow, and his “public presentation” will be at the team’s preseason game against Mexico’s Leon on Aug. 18, the club said in a statement on its website.
The prohibition on training and promotional activities “was unfair to Suarez as it infringed his right to work at club level,” player union FIFPro said in a statement after the decision. “FIFPro regrets that CAS has not decided to reduce the length of both bans in exchange for an obligation for Suarez to receive treatment.”
After the incident Suarez said he had lost balance and fell teeth first into Chiellini, who’s backed the 27-year-old’s claim the sanction was harsh. The punishment imposed by world soccer body FIFA was the longest in World Cup history, and included a 100,000 Swiss-franc ($121,500) fine and a nine-match ban from Uruguay’s international games.
As well as being one of soccer’s most coveted talents, Suarez is also among the sport’s most controversial. The clash with Chiellini was the third biting incident in a career that’s also included a punishment for racially abusing an opponent during a Premier League game.
Suarez received a hero’s welcome in Uruguay after being expelled from the World Cup. The country’s President Jose Mujica at the time said FIFA’s punishment was “not just for a man but also for a country” and the decision “ will be an eternal shame in the history of World Cups.”
Under the terms of the ban Suarez had been unable to enter soccer stadiums or training facilities including those of Barcelona, which paid Liverpool as much as 75 million pounds ($125 million) in the transfer. It’s the second straight year he’ll miss the start of a season because of a biting ban.
Suarez completed a 12-game suspension in 2013 after sinking his teeth into the arm of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic. Three years earlier at Ajax, he was excluded for seven games for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal. He also served an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.