Uruguay striker Luis Suárez will be banned from soccer-related activities for four months after he bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during a World Cup match, FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee announced on Thursday.
Suárez, 27, will not be allowed to play or practice with either the Uruguayan national team or Liverpool, his club team in the English Premier League. He’ll also be suspended for nine official matches, including the remainder of the 2014 World Cup, and be forced to pay a fine of 100,000 Swiss francs (about $111,000), according to a FIFA statement.
“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,” Claudio Sulser, chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, said on Thursday. “The Disciplinary Committee took into account all the factors of the case and the degree of Mr. Suárez’s guilt in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Code. The decision comes into force as soon it is communicated.”
The incident occurred during the 78th minute of Uruguay’s match against Italy on Tuesday. When Chiellini attempted to mark Suárez near the Italian goal, the Uruguayan responded with a bite to his shoulder. The altercation marked the third time that Suárez has bitten an opposing player during a match; ironically, he hasn't received a red card. Suárez has received suspensions totaling 34 matches since the start of the 2010-11 club season and has not received a red card in that time.
After the game, Suárez characterized the bite as a routine occurrence on the pitch. “We were both just inside the area, [Chiellini] struck me in the chest with his shoulder and he hit me in the eye as well. These are things that happen on the pitch and you shouldn’t attach so much importance to them,” he told a Uruguayan television station, according to the Financial Times.
FIFA’s punishment, while severe, is far less than the maximum penalty afforded by the organization’s bylaws. Suárez could have been suspended for up to two years.