FIFA has hit Uruguay’s Luis Suarez with its toughest World Cup punishment ever, booting him out of the tournament with a nine-game suspension and a four-month total soccer ban, for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini.
The discipline freezes Suarez’s career for months, stunts his national team’s World Cup prospects, and damages his professional club’s early season.
It is the harshest penalty in World Cup history for game misbehaviour, taking into account Suarez’s previous discipline for biting and making racist comments.
The previous longest World Cup suspension was in 1994 against Italy’s Mauro Tassotti, who broke Luis Enrique’s nose with his elbow.
“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 Claudio Sulser, chair of the FIFA disciplinary committee.
“The Disciplinary Committee took into account all the factors of the case and the degree of Mr Suárez’s guilt.”
Suarez, who plays for Liverpool professionally and is Uruguay’s star player, was found guilty of “unsporting behaviour towards another player.”
The Liverpool club said on Twitter that the FIFA ban on any soccer-related activity means he won’t be able to play for his English Premier League team until the end of October. The competitive season begins at the end of August.
A sweeping four-month stadium ban means Suarez won’t be able to practise or play with his professional team.
“He cannot be actively involved” with a club, FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer said.