BRASILIA (TIP): Even before the knockout rounds have kicked off, a key South American figure is out of the World Cup. Uruguay striker Luiz Suarez was handed a nine-game ban by FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee following his bite on Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder during the final Group D match in Natal on Tuesday.
He has also been debarred from taking part in any football-related activity for a period of four months, a sentence which includes a stadium ban whenever Uruguay is playing. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 100,000 Swiss francs ($111,000). Already there is talk of how much this latest ‘bite’ will cost Suarez. Experts reckon a hit of £1 million with Adidas and 888poker both reviewing their relationship with the star.
This is the heaviest sanction against a player in the tournament’s history. It surpasses the eight-match ban against Italy’s Mauro Tassotti in 1994 for an elbowing which broke the nose of Luis Enrique. This is the third time Suarez has been banned for biting a player during a match. “Such behaviour cannot be tolerated on any football pitch, and in particular not at a FIFA World Cup when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field.
The Disciplinary 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. The decision comes into force as soon as it is communicated,” said Claudio Sulser, chairman of the committee. Uruguay will appeal against this decision, the media in Montevideo reported. “The punishment is too strong for the foul,” the country’s football federation’s president Wilmer Valdez told local TV, which reported that the appeal would be filed later on Thursday. The ban prevents Suarez from even entering the stadium for Uruguay’s Saturday’s game against Colombia.
It will also hit his club career with Liverpool as he cannot play until the end of October. In Natal on Tuesday, Suarez rushed into the rival penalty area looking for a pass and appeared to have collided with Chiellini in the process. As they two men clashed, the Uruguayan was seen sinking his teeth into the Italian’s shoulder. Immediately both fell to the ground and while Suarez was seen holding his teeth, Chiellini kept calling for the attention of the referee, Mexican Marco Rodriguez. Rodriguez saw nothing in the plea and waved on play.
Uruguay took the lead through a Diego Godin header a minute later to qualify for the Round of 16. Italy were knocked out. This is the second censure for Suarez at the World Cup. In the 2010 quarterfinal match against Ghana, he stopped Asamoah Gyan’s goal-bound attempt with his hand. He was shown a red card and later defended the act by calling it ‘the real Hand of God’. “Stopping a goal with my hand, I believe I did nothing evil to anyone – it was just stopping a goal,” he said later.
Ghana failed to score off the resulting penalty and Uruguay eventually advanced to the semifinals after winning the penalty shootout. In Brazil here, however, in addition to his brilliant goal-scoring ability and form for Liverpool, Suarez had also arrived on the back of a reputation that bordered on the unpredictable and at times, violent. A favourite of the Kop – the Liverpool faithful – Suarez enjoyed an ambivalent relationship with rest of the Premiership fans who slowly warmed to his goal-scoring abilities but never forgot his other escapades.
In April last year, he appeared to bite Branislav Ivanovic, Chelsea’s Serbian defender, during a similar goalmouth melee. He was handed a 10-match band and many said it was nothing new, since he arrived in England after having bitten PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal during his Ajax days in the Netherlands. He was also involved in a racial slur controversy with Manchester United’s French defender Patrice Evra.