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World Cup 2014
 
OUR MAN IN BRAZIL

Shameful exit for Suarez

*Banned for 9 international games, no football activity for four months *Not allowed to play for Liverpool till Nov, or even watch team play live *Punishment does not block any possible sale of Suarez

Published on Jun 27, 2014 10:00 AM
 

LUIS Suarez's involvement with this World Cup ended in disgrace yesterday when he was banned for nine international matches - the longest suspension ever handed out on football's biggest stage.

The Uruguayan will also have to refrain from any football-related activity for four months, which also prohibits the 27-year-old from entering any stadium.

Fifa's disciplinary committee, whose deputy chairman is Football Association of Singapore vice-president Lim Kia Tong, fined the Liverpool forward 100,000 Swiss francs (S$140,000) as well.

The ban kicked in the moment Suarez was told of his punishment following his altercation with Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during a crucial Group D match on Tuesday.

Uruguay's Luis Suarez (right) and Italy's Giorgio Chiellini on the ground after clashing during their final Group D match. The ban is the longest ever handed out at the World Cup. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Uruguay won the match 1-0, scoring the winner after the Suarez incident, and progressed to the last 16, where they will face Colombia tomorrow (4am, Sunday in Singapore). Italy were knocked out.

"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," said Fifa disciplinary committee chairman Claudio Sulser.

"The committee took into account all the factors of the case and the degree of Suarez's guilt."

Reacting to the ban, the country's football federation president Wilmar Valdez said: "It feels like Uruguay have been thrown out of the World Cup."

The ban, which Uruguay confirmed it is appealing against, is the longest in World Cup history, beating the eight games handed to Italy's Mauro Tassotti for elbowing Spain's Luis Enrique in 1994.

The committee made the decision after more than 10 hours of talks over Wednesday night and yesterday morning, examining video evidence and statements from those involved.

The referee did not immediately see the incident, although Chiellini claimed he was bitten and showed the bite mark on his shoulder. Football's world body ordered an immediate probe after the match, as the image of the Italian defender's shoulder and videos of the incident went viral.

Uruguayan football officials had claimed Suarez was a victim of a European conspiracy.

Alejandro Balbi, secretary-general of the Uruguayan Football Association, even went as far as to say that the picture of Chiellini clutching his tooth-marked shoulder was, in fact, altered to make the marks look worse.

Although Uruguayans reacted to the news with dismay and anger, online polls around the world after the verdict showed that most either agreed with the punishment or thought it was lenient.

In addition to missing the rest of this Cup, the ban also means that Suarez cannot play for his current club Liverpool until November, missing crucial matches against English Premier League champions Manchester City and Merseyside rivals Everton.

He will also miss the early stages of the Champions League.

Suarez had missed the start of Liverpool's most recent campaign last year for a similar reason, after he was banned 10 matches for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.

While playing for Ajax in 2010, he also sank his teeth into an opponent and was hit with a seven-game sanction.

Suarez had been linked with moves to Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona in recent weeks, but a transfer away from Liverpool now looks unlikely given that he will miss the first few months of the season.

He had just come off a spectacular Premier League season, winning top player honours and breaking scoring records on the way to 31 goals in 33 games.

He was doubtful for the World Cup following knee surgery but made a remarkable comeback to play in Uruguay's second match in Brazil, scoring twice in the 2-1 win over England.

Then came Tuesday's farce.

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez will now have to plan for the clash with Colombia without his star striker.

marclim@sph.com.sg

 

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