Luis Suarez bite: Suarez’s Liverpool career in jeopardy after bite
Club may consider offers as striker’s lawyer flies in to prepare his defence
Wednesday 25 June 2014
Luis Suarez’s career for club and country was in jeopardy last night as Fifa prepared its case against the disgraced striker following his latest biting incident.
The Uruguayan striker is facing disciplinary action following his bite on Giorgio Chiellini in Uruguay’s Group D game against Italy on Tuesday afternoon. It is the third time he has bitten an opponent in recent years and Liverpool could be running out of patience with the striker who nearly guided them to the Premier League title last season.
While Liverpool fought hard to keep Suarez at the club last summer, with the player agitating for a move after a bid of more than £40m from Arsenal, they may not be quite as keen this summer after his latest indiscretion, amid firm interest – and a far higher likely transfer fee – from Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Read more: Suarez denies bite, says Chiellini bumped into his shoulder
Suarez tried to bite Chiellini last year
Suarez’s lawyer, Alejandro Balbi, flew to Rio de Janeiro yesterday to prepare his defence. “We’re polishing off a defence argument,” said Balbi, who is also on the board of the Uruguayan FA, and who defended Suarez’s actions. “We don’t have any doubts that this has happened because it’s Suarez and secondly because Italy were eliminated. There’s a lot of pressure from England and Italy.”
Suarez is likely to face a hefty punishment after Fifa announced, in the early hours of yesterday morning, that it had opened disciplinary proceedings against him. The case will be overseen by the chairman of the Fifa disciplinary committee, Claudio Sulser, a Swiss lawyer and former professional footballer. The disciplinary committee will assess all the video evidence before making its judgement. The Uruguayan Football Association had a deadline last night to respond to the charge.
Fifa promised to move as swiftly as possible, with Uruguay due to play Colombia in the last 16 on Saturday evening, although it could not promise it would act before the match. “The disciplinary committee understands the urgency of the matter and is working to make a decision as soon as possible, particularly as Uruguay are still in the tournament,” said a Fifa spokesperson.
Suarez scored 31 Premier League goals last season, earning him PFA and FWA Player of the Year titles, despite missing the first six games of the season because of his previous biting ban. Liverpool had hoped that the striker had turned a corner after biting incidents in the past. Suarez was handed a 10-game ban in April last year for biting the Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in a game at Anfield. Liverpool and Suarez described themselves as being “shocked and disappointed” with that punishment.
Tuesday’s incident with Italy defender Chiellini was reminiscent of the clash with Ivanovic, which Liverpool had hoped would be a turning point in the striker’s chequered career. It also recalled when Suarez bit PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal in November 2010 while playing for Ajax, after which the Dutch FA banned him for seven games.
Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez (R) clashes with Chelsea's Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic (L)
There were not many voices in Brazil condemning Suarez’s actions last night but one came from Alcides Ghiggia, who scored the winning goal when Uruguay won the World Cup in Brazil in 1950, and who called for Suarez to be punished.
“I think a punishment should be applied because this isn’t rare, it’s not the first time he’s done something like this,” said Ghiggia. “I don’t know what this lad thinks or what he has in his head. If you’re from Uruguay or anywhere else, you always have to punish these things on the field of play – it’s not a war.”
Two of Suarez’s main sponsors distanced themselves from him last night, with 888poker announcing that it was “seriously reviewing its relationship” with Suarez, as it “will not tolerate any unsporting behaviour”. Adidas executives also met in Rio de Janeiro yesterday to discuss the incident, and said they would wait for Fifa’s decision before responding.
There was also fierce criticism from the Liverpool legends Phil Thompson and Robbie Fowler, suggesting a change of mood on Merseyside after the continued indiscretions of the club’s best player.
“It’s a real, real tough predicament that most Liverpool fans are in,” said Fowler, who predicted the striker’s departure from Liverpool this summer. “They love him as a player, but what he does, he’s continually dragging the club’s name through the mud.
“It’s not right, especially after what they did with him last time when they’ve come out and supported him and tried to rehabilitate him. You can’t defend him,” said Fowler. “Off the pitch he’s a lovely fellow. He does so much work for charity, does so much in the community for Liverpool, and I love him as a player, but you cannot condone what he has done. It’s just not right, is it? I wouldn’t be surprised if he went now.”
Thompson denounced Suarez’s behaviour in just as strong terms. “You think of the support the guy has had from [manager] Brendan Rodgers, [owner] John Henry and the majority of the fans at Liverpool,” Thompson said. “He’s had massive support. It was like a kick in the face.”
Uruguay's defender Diego Lugano speaks during a press conference in Natal
But Uruguay captain Diego Lugano rallied behind Suarez last night, insisting that Chiellini was not bitten. “What incident?,” he said when asked about it. “The pictures don’t show anything. They show an approximation.”
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