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Volume 10 No. 25

World Cup

Uruguay's Luis Suárez has been handed a record nine-game int'l ban and a four-month football ban after FIFA "found him guilty of biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini, making the sanction the biggest ever World Cup suspension in history," according to Jack de Menezes of the London INDEPENDENT. FIFA confirmed the news at its morning briefing on Friday at the Maracana Stadium, where it also confirmed that Suárez "will have to pay a fine" of CHF 100,000 ($112,000). The governing body also confirmed that "while he can appeal the decision, the ban will start immediately," meaning Suárez's World Cup "is over." Furthermore, Suárez cannot attend any football stadium for the duration of the ban, after FIFA confirmed that he has been suspended from taking part in "any kind of football-related activity" (INDEPENDENT, 6/26). In London, Oliver Kay wrote FIFA Disciplinary Committee Chair Claudio Sulser said, "Such behavior cannot be tolerated on any football pitch and, in particular, not at the FIFA World Cup, when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field." Uruguay FA President Wilmar Valdez said that "the association would appeal." Valdez said, “We are preparing our appeal now, we have three days to do it. It is an excessive decision and there was not enough evidence and I have seen more aggressive incidents recently. It is a severe punishment. I don’t know exactly which arguments they used but it is a tough punishment for Suárez" (LONDON TIMES, 6/26). REUTERS' Mike Collett reported the previous record ban "was eight games on Italy's Mauro Tassotti for breaking the nose of Spain's Luis Enrique" in '94. The 27-year-old Suárez, voted England's footballer of the year after scoring 31 goals for Liverpool last season, "has now been involved in three incidents of biting opponents." He was also banned for one match at the last World Cup in South Africa "for a deliberate handball" in a quarterfinal (REUTERS, 6/26).

LIVERPOOL BITES BACK: In Liverpool, James Pearce wrote the severity of Suárez's punishment "has sent shockwaves through Liverpool." Anfield officials "expected FIFA to throw the book at the Uruguay striker." However, they believed that "the inevitable hefty suspension would apply only to international football." News that he will be banned from all football for four months "is a devastating blow for the Reds." Suárez will not only miss Liverpool’s first nine Premier League games, "but three Champions League group matches and a Capital One Cup tie." The implications for the Reds ahead of the '14-15 campaign "are immense." CEO Ian Ayre and manager Brendan Rodgers "find themselves locked in emergency talks to decide how you deal with a problem" like Suárez (LIVERPOOL ECHO, 6/26). In London, Oliver Kay reported Liverpool joined the Uruguayan FA "in considering legal action against Fifa." Ayre said that Liverpool "will wait until they have read a full report from Fifa’s disciplinary committee before deciding on their next step, but there is already a strong and growing sense of anger at Suárez’s punishment." They are "particularly unhappy that an incident that occurred during Fifa competition, for which Suárez had been released by his club, could result in suspension at club level" (LONDON TIMES, 6/27).

: In London, Malena Castaldi wrote Uruguayans "were incensed" on Thursday after FIFA suspended Suárez "with many slamming the ban as exaggerated, hypocritical, or even biased." Suárez "is synonymous with controversy in much of the world." But in small, football-crazed Uruguay, "the Liverpool forward is a rags-to-riches hero that his compatriots have passionately defended." Local media "have lashed out at a British-led 'manhunt' against him," and even Uruguayan President Jose Mujica spoke up for Suarez to be left alone (EVENING STANDARD, 6/26).

FIFA STAYS TRUE TO FORM: In London, Owen Gibson opined FIFA has used this World Cup "as a platform to project its simplistic, brazen moral mission to the world." It "can be seen around the perimeter of pitches, in advertising breaks during matches and most strikingly in the bizarre paean to world peace that now precedes every match." The message: "racism is bad, fair play is good and Fifa is working for a better world." So when Luis Suárez "sank his teeth into the shoulder of Giorgio Chiellini," FIFA President Sepp Blatter knew that "it was an incident that could undermine the carefully constructed rhetoric that he has honed in his scandal-hit years as Fifa president" (GUARDIAN, 6/26).

DEFENDING HIS CHARACTER: Also in London, Henry Winter opined Suárez "is not a monster." Talk to people at Anfield, from Rodgers to Steven Gerrard to behind-the-scenes staff, and they speak of an employee as humble as he is popular, a family man, "a highly intelligent man off the field" in Rodgers’s view. It "is a sadness that a player with such a professional approach to his craft, with such sustained brilliance in creating chances for himself and others, is such a toxic liability at times." It "is him." It "is his problem." He "has to understand that" (TELEGRAPH, 6/25).

The Ghana FA announced that Ghana midfielders Sulley Muntari and Kevin-Prince Boateng "have been suspended indefinitely from the national team and sent home from the World Cup in Brazil for disciplinary reasons," according to the London TELEGRAPH. The association claimed the decision to suspend Muntari "was taken in the wake of his unprovoked physical attack on an Executive Committee member of the GFA and a management member of the Black Stars, Mr Moses Armah on Tuesday 24th June, 2014 during a meeting." In separate statements on its website the Ghana FA said the decision to suspend Boateng was "taken following Boateng’s vulgar verbal insults targeted at coach Kwesi Appiah during the team’s training session in Maceio this week. Boateng has since showed no remorse for his actions which has resulted in the decision." Ghana lost 2-1 to Portugal on Thursday and was eliminated from the World Cup (TELEGRAPH, 6/26). In London, David Hills wrote Boateng confirmed he had been sent home, but denied the charges, telling the German magazine Sport-Bild, "Sulley Muntari and I were just joking around, and the coach stopped the session and sent us back to the changing room. Afterwards I went to him and asked what he had against me and he started yelling. He insulted me. There were words like, 'F*** off.'" Boateng said he "absolutely accepts" his suspension, but added, "No one should think I insulted the coach" (GUARDIAN, 6/26).

Brazilian news site reported FIFA is investigating Brazilian player Neymar "for displaying prohibited underwear during his country's 4-1 win over Cameroon on Monday," according to Troy Machir of SPORTING NEWS. Part of Neymar's Speedo undergarments "were exposed during the customary post-match procedure of exchanging jerseys with an opposing player." Speedo "is not a World Cup-sanctioned line of clothing." FIFA is investigating whether Neymar "purposefully exposed his Speedo briefs as a marketing ploy." At the 2012 European Championships, Denmark's Nicklas Bendtner was fined over $125,000 by UEFA "for revealing the name of a betting firm on the waistband on his undergarments during a goal celebration" (SPORTING NEWS, 6/25).

Honduras national team coach Luis Fernando Suarez "has quit his job following his team's 3-0 loss to Switzerland at the World Cup." Wednesday's result "left Honduras winless in its three matches and eliminated from the tournament" (AP, 6/25). ... U.S. and German football fans "faced flooded streets" on their way to watch Thursday’s World Cup game in Recife, Brazil. Heavy, persistent rain in the coastal city "slowed traffic ahead of the match." FIFA spokesperson Delia Fischer said that "the field was in 'perfect' condition and the game would go on as planned" (BLOOMBERG, 6/26). ... Spanish national team Manager Vicente Del Bosque will "fulfill his contract and remain the team's coach" through '16. Del Bosque will "lead the regeneration of the national team" and will provide his first list for the next cycle in late August (AS, 6/26). ... Lorena Martínez Rodríguez of Mexico's Office of the Federal Prosecutor for the Consumer (PROFECO) said that the organization will investigate Escotours, which sold a travel package to a group of Mexican fans for the Mexico-Croatia World Cup game in Brazil. Due to "a problem with their return flight, those fans are stranded in Recife." Around 250 Mexicans are "in Brazil without lodging due to a problem with various travel agencies including Escotours." Martínez Rodríguez said that Escotours is "obligated to fly the Mexicans stranded in Brazil back to their country, as well as cover their extra expenses" (LA AFICION, 6/26).