Luis Suarez is out of the World Cup and will miss the start of the English Premier League season after FIFA banned him for four months for biting an Italian player.
Suarez was suspended Thursday for nine matches, beginning with Uruguay’s round of 16 game against Colombia on Saturday, after FIFA’s disciplinary committee found he had committed assault and unsporting behavior toward another player. Suarez bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini on the left shoulder during Tuesday’s game, the third time in four years he’s bitten an opponent.
“Such behavior 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,” Claudio Sulser, chair of the disciplinary committee, said in a statement.
Suarez had downplayed the incident, saying Chiellini had pushed his shoulder into Suarez’s mouth.
“These things happen on the pitch,” he said in a TV interview after the game. “We’re not going to make a big thing about this.”
But FIFA did. It opened a disciplinary case against him that same night, and issued its decision 18 hours after the deadline for Suarez to present a defense. As part of the punishment, Suarez is not even allowed in the stadium for Uruguay’s game against Colombia.
The loss of Suarez is a huge blow for Uruguay. It lost to Costa Rica in its opener with Suarez on the bench recovering from knee surgery, and he scored both goals in the 2-1 victory over England.
The nine-match game ban covers Uruguay’s official matches – friendlies would not count. But FIFA also barred Suarez from “any kind of football-related activity (administrative, sports or any other),” which means he won’t be able to play for Liverpool until the end of October.
Additionally, FIFA fined the Liverpool striker 100,000 Swiss francs ($112,000) over the incident.
This will be the second time Suarez has missed time for Liverpool for biting an opponent. He missed the start of last season while serving a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. Three years earlier, the Dutch league suspended him for seven games for biting an opponent while he was playing for Ajax.