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SBD Global/April 23, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Luis Suárez Biting Incident Draws Criticism From Adidas, Fine From Liverpool

Liverpool's Luis Suárez, right, clashes with Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic Sunday at Anfield stadium in Liverpool.

Adidas "has taken the unusual step" of condemning Liverpool player Luis Suárez, who has a boot deal with the company, "in a sign of the potential negative commercial repercussions" of the striker's latest onfield indiscretion, according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. Major brands "tend to shy away from criticising their charges in the immediate aftermath of controversial incidents," but the sportswear company issued a strongly worded statement on Monday in the wake of Suárez's apology for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic. Adidas said, "Adidas takes this type of incident very seriously and does not condone Luis Suárez's behaviour. We will be reminding him of the standards we expect from our players." Notoriety is "sometimes encouraged by sponsors" -- see Nike's playful treatment of former ManU striker Eric Cantona's return from his ban after assaulting a Crystal Palace fan -- "but Suárez seems to have gone well beyond that." Adidas is no longer Liverpool's kit supplier, "but its stance is indicative of the likely impact on the player's personal brand and the danger of it having wider implications for Liverpool's commercial strategy" (GUARDIAN, 4/22). REUTERS' Martyn Herman reported Liverpool fined Suárez an undisclosed amount for biting Ivanovic, but "will not sack him." Suárez is "expected to get a lengthy ban from the FA," but Liverpool Managing Dir Ian Ayre said that the club "would stand by him." Ayre: "I think the most important thing is that we acted swiftly yesterday" (REUTERS, 4/22). The BBC wrote when asked if the incident would affect the player's time at the club, Ayre said, "Not at all. It affects his future in the sense that we have to work with him on his discipline" (BBC, 4/22).

PM GETS INVOLVED: In London, Andy Hunter wrote Downing Street has called on the FA "to make an example of Luis Suárez" after he was charged with violent conduct. The FA also cleared the way for Suárez "to receive a substantial suspension" and said that an automatic three-match ban for violent conduct would be "clearly insufficient." A spokesperson for Prime Minister David Cameron entered the debate, saying "It is rightly a matter for the football authorities to consider. As part of their consideration, I think it would be very understandable if they took into account the fact that high-profile players are often role models" (GUARDIAN, 4/22). EUROSPORT wrote Merseyside Police "have confirmed no action will be taken" against Suárez following his bite on Ivanovic. Ivanovic did not report any physical injury and told police that "he did not want to pursue the matter" (EUROSPORT, 4/22). EUROSPORT also reported the Professional Footballers' Association will offer Suárez anger management counseling. It is the latest in a series of unsavory incidents in Suárez's career and PFA CEO Gordon Taylor said that "the players' union would offer the striker help to deal with his temper" (EUROSPORT, 4/22). In London, James Olley opined, "Players have been allowed to bare their teeth for far too long." It is time football's authorities "bite back." There "is no defence." No individual of sound mind "would cross the Rubicon of human decency by deeming it acceptable to bite another" (EVENING STANDARD, 4/22).

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