Luis Suarez departed the World Cup in disgrace yesterday with a four-month ban from all football imposed for biting an opponent – leaving his club Liverpool with another dilemma over their star striker.
FIFA’s independent disciplinary committee imposed a World Cup record ban on the 27-year-old of nine international matches as well as a four-month total ban that will devastate Liverpool’s plans for the new season.
It will keep him out for at least 12 club games – nine Premier League matches plus three Champions League fixtures, and potentially a League Cup match too – before a return at the end of October.
Suarez, dealt with as a serial biting offender by the FIFA panel which took his two previous cases into consideration, flew from Brazil to return to Uruguay with his World Cup over.
An appeal will be lodged, but he will remained suspended during that process and is certainly out of the World Cup.
Suarez’s ban excludes him from training with Liverpool or any other club and from going to any stadium, but it does not prevent him being transferred to another club.
Liverpool are taking specialist legal advice over what they see as an unprecedented incident before deciding on their next move regarding last season’s Professional Footballers’ Association and Football Writers’ Association player of the year and the Premier League’s top scorer with 31 goals.
FIFA announced the sanctions in Rio de Janeiro, adding that Suarez has also been fined 100,000 Swiss francs (nearly £66,000) for his attack on Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay’s 1-0 win on Tuesday which saw them progress at Italy’s expense.
They will face Colombia tomorrow with Uruguay federation (AUF) president Wilmar Valdez insisting there was no possibility of boycotting the match.
He said: “Uruguay continues playing at this World Cup. We have good players who can come in.”
He added that Suarez will return to Uruguay, saying: “Luis will travel to Montevideo to be with the rest of his family to recover.”
Valdez confirmed the association would appeal to FIFA’s appeals committee against the sanctions. Suarez and AUF can also appeal beyond that to the Court of Arbitration for Sport with the aim of obtaining an outcome before the start of the new season.
Valdez said: “We are preparing our appeal now; we have three days to do it.
“It’s an extremely excessive punishment, there was not enough evidence and I have seen more aggressive incidents recently. It feels like Uruguay have been thrown out of the World Cup. We all know what Suarez means to Uruguay and to football around the world – not having him would be a loss to any team.”
It is the third time Suarez has been sanctioned for biting opponents, the two previous offences occurring in club football.
He was banned for 10 matches in 2013 for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic and in 2010 he was given a seven-game ban while playing for Ajax for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal. He also served an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
The latest sanctions should total 21 matches (nine for Uruguay and 12 for Liverpool) so it means he will have faced a total ban of 38 matches for the three biting incidents – none of which saw a red card shown.
The sanctions are a record ban imposed on a player for an offence at a World Cup for an on-the-pitch offence – previously it was Italy’s Mauro Tassotti who was banned for eight matches for breaking Luis Enrique’s nose with an elbow in 1994.
Britain’s FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce, from Northern Ireland, said: “I think the punishment handed out by FIFA to Luis Suarez is fully justified. Hopefully, he will realise now behaviour of this type will not be tolerated.”
FIFA disciplinary committee chairman Claudio Sulser added: “Such behaviour cannot be tolerated on any football pitch, and in particular not at a World Cup when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field.
“The 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.”
Suarez’s biggest sponsor adidas will meet the player and his advisers after the World Cup to decide on their future relationship, but will end their activities with him for this tournament.