Suarez banned after bite controversy

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Luis Suarez appears to bite Giorgio Chiellini © BBC Sport

Luis Suarez appears to bite Giorgio Chiellini © BBC Sport

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has been banned for nine international matches and from any football activity for four months after FIFA found him guilty of biting a player during Uruguay’s 1-0 World Cup group stage win against Italy on Tuesday.

FIFA announced the stiff sanctions at a press conference in Rio, which extend to his club commitments with Liverpool, plus a fine of around £65,000 and a stadium ban.

Suarez had been accused of biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in the 79th minute of his country’s decisive group game, just moments before Diego Godin’s winner for Uruguay.

Uruguay Football Association president Wilmar Valdez says they will appeal against the longest ban ever handed out during a World Cup, but Suarez will not feature again at the Brazil 2014 finals.

Claudio Sulser, chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, said in a statement: “Such behaviour cannot be tolerated on any football pitch when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field.”

Chiellini, who now famously lowered his shirt to show an apparent bite mark while Suarez held his face and teeth in pain, said after the game: “The referee should have shown him a red card. There’s a clear simulation after, a clear sign that he had done something that he wasn’t supposed to.”

Luis Suarez made headlines again in the third biting controversy of his career. Click image to enlarge © Telegraph / Mail Online / New York Times / Huffington Post

Luis Suarez made headlines again in the third biting controversy of his career. Click image to enlarge © Telegraph / Mail Online / New York Times / Huffington Post

The 29-year-old Italian defender also described Suarez as “a sneak”, adding: “I’d love to see if FIFA has the courage to use video evidence against him. The referee saw the bite mark but he did nothing about it.”

After the shock news made headlines around the world, Suarez played down the incident, telling Uruguayan reporters: “There are things that happen on the pitch and you should not make such a big deal out of them. It was just the two of us inside the area and he bumped into me with his shoulder.”

Earlier in the tournament, Suarez returned from injury for Uruguay to demolish England, scoring twice in a 2-1 group stage victory to send the Three Lions, including a number of Liverpool team-mates, crashing out of the World Cup.

All of that has been overshadowed as this marks the third occasion that Suarez has committed the same offence.

In April 2013, the Liverpool forward was banned for 10 games after biting Branislav Ivanovic during a Premier League match against Chelsea.

Suarez was also suspended for seven games for biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal’s shoulder while captaining Ajax in 2010, shortly before joining the Reds.

At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the Uruguayan was sent off in his country’s quarter-final match against Ghana after clearing the ball off the line with his hand in the dying moments of extra-time.

Asamoah Gyan missed the subsequent penalty and Ghana went on to lose the match on penalties.

How the Liverpool Echo reported the latest Luis Suarez controversy © Trinity Mirror

How the Liverpool Echo reported the latest Luis Suarez controversy © Trinity Mirror

Suarez again found himself caught in controversy when he was banned for eight games after being found guilty by the FA of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra during a Premier League match at Anfield in October 2011.

He later sparked a new row after snubbing Evra’s handshake when Liverpool met United at Old Trafford in February 2012.

Officials at Liverpool and manager Brendan Rodgers have stood by Suarez in recent times, despite his controversial nature, but this latest incident has left the club with another headache as they discuss their response.

With reported interest in the player from Spanish giants, Barcelona and Real Madrid, it may well be that the club believe the best course of action is to sell Suarez to avoid the risk of the Uruguayan tainting the club’s image further with yet another controversy.

The ban would not affect any possible transfer but he would be unavailable for selection for any team until the end of October, including the first nine games of the 2014/15 Premier League season.

Although Suarez signed a new long-term deal with Liverpool in December 2013, there were already signs that the 27-year-old was hoping to secure a move to Spain this summer.

About Jack Birch, JMU Journalism