Luis Suarez departed the World Cup in disgrace on Thursday with a four-month ban from all football imposed for biting an opponent – leaving Liverpool facing up to another nightmare scenario with their star striker.
FIFA’s independent disciplinary committee imposed a World Cup record ban on the 27-year-old of nine international matches as well as the four-month-long total ban that will devastate Liverpool’s plans for the new season.
It would keep him out for at least 12 club games – nine Premier League matches plus three Champions League fixtures, and potentially a League Cup match too – before a return at the end of October.
Suarez, dealt with as a serial biting offender by the FIFA panel who took his two previous cases into consideration, flew out from Brazil to return to Uruguay with his World Cup over. An appeal will be lodged but he will remained suspended during that process and is certainly out of the World Cup.
Suarez’s ban excludes him from training with Liverpool or any other club and from going to any stadium, but it does not prevent him being transferred to another club.
Liverpool are taking specialist legal advice over what they see as an unprecedented incident before deciding on their next move regarding last season’s PFA and FWA player of the year and the Premier League’s top scorer with 31 goals.
FIFA announced the sanctions at a news conference in Rio de Janeiro, adding that Suarez has also been fined 100,000 Swiss francs (nearly £66,000) for his attack on Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay’s 1-0 win on Tuesday which saw them progress at Italy’s expense.
They will now face Colombia tomorrow with Uruguay federation (AUF) president Wilmar Valdez insisting there was no possibility of his side boycotting the match.
Valdezsaid: “Uruguay continues playing at this World Cup. We have good players who can come in.”
He added that Suarez will return to Uruguay, saying: “Luis will travel to Montevideo to be with the rest of his family to recover.”
Valdez confirmed the association would appeal to FIFA’s appeals committee against the Suarez sanctions. Suarez and AUF can also appeal beyond that to the Court of Arbitration for Sport with the aim of obtaining a outcome before the start of the new season.
Valdez said: “We are preparing our appeal now, we have three days to do it. It’s an extremely excessive punishment, there was not enough evidence and I have seen more aggressive incidents recently.
“It’s feels like Uruguay have been thrown out of the World Cup. We all know what Suarez means to Uruguay and to football around the world – not having him would be a loss to any team.”
It is the third time Suarez has been sanctioned for biting opponents.