FIFA Hands Uruguay Striker Luis Suárez Record Nine-Game Ban For Bite Incident
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).
ANGER IN URUGUAY: 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).