Luis Suarez has apologised for the infamous World Cup biting incident involving Giorgio Chiellini, promising it will never happen again after being found guilty of the same offence three times.
In his original defence, Suarez had said he lost balance and did not bite the Italian, but he has now admitted that he did, having had “the opportunity to regain my calm and reflect about the reality of what occurred”.
He said: “The truth is that my colleague Giorgio Chiellini suffered the physical result of a bite in the collision he suffered with me.”
The Liverpool striker published a short statement on his Twitter account today, where Suarez said: “I deeply regret what occurred. I apologise to Giorgio Chiellini and the entire football family. I vow to the public that there will never again be another incident like [this].”
His admission comes in the wake of FIFA’s ruling that Suarez will be banned for nine international matches and from any football activity for four months for biting Chiellini during Uruguay’s 1-0 World Cup group stage win against Italy in Natal last Tuesday.
FIFA’s decision means Suarez is not permitted to enter any football stadium or even train with team-mates for the duration of the ban. He has also been fined £65,000 for his actions.
While welcomed in some quarters, the punishment was criticised by football legend Diego Maradona, who appeared in a TV interview wearing a t-shirt bearing the words “Luis, we are with you”, while biting victim Chiellini described the ban as “excessive”.
Chiellini replied to the Suarez apology via Twitter, saying: “It’s all forgotten. I hope FIFA will reduce your suspension.”
Liverpool FC are reported be taking legal advice and have yet to make a full response to the sensational episode and subsequent unprecedented ban.
FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke has suggested Suarez “should go for treatment”, but denied that Liverpool have been unfairly treated as a consequence of the sanctions, saying: “It’s not Liverpool punished, it’s the player being punished.”
During his lengthy absence from the game, the club’s star forward will miss the first Merseyside derby at the end of September, as well as early fixtures away to Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, plus three Champions League matches.
This is the second year running that Suarez will be unavailable for selection at the beginning of a Premier League season after he missed the first five games of the 2013/14 campaign through suspension for another biting incident, involving Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, in April 2013.
Suarez went on to finish as the Premier League’s top scorer last season after netting 31 goals en route to firing Liverpool back into the Champions League. As a result of his prolific form, Suarez was named both PFA Player of the Year and the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year.
Despite this, the 27-year-old still appeared to hit out at the English media following Uruguay’s 2-1 World Cup group stage win against England, in which he scored both goals for his country to consign the Three Lions to elimination, claiming he was enjoying the moment because “before the game, too many people in England laughed about my attitude over the last few years”.
It is unclear whether the long ban handed out by FIFA will deter Spanish giants, Barcelona and Real Madrid, from pursuing their interest in the Uruguayan, or if Liverpool will be forced to accept a cut-price deal in order to offload the troublesome forward.