FIFA handed down swift punishment to Luis Suarez for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup group stage. The Uruguay and Liverpool forward is banned from any football activity over the next four months and will also miss the national team's next nine international matches.
The governing body of the sport made the announcement just two days after the incident occurred late in a 1-0 win that allowed Uruguay to advance:
DISCIPLINARY: Uruguay’s Luis Suarez suspended for 9 matches & banned for 4 months from any football-related activity.— FIFA Media (@fifamedia) June 26, 2014
A full report from FIFA noted that the punishment also includes a stadium ban for the duration of the sentence as well as a fine of 100,000 CHF (~$112,000).
The harsh punishment will probably come as a surprise to Suarez. Massimo Marioni of Metro passed along comments from the dynamic attacking player, who tried to downplay the entire incident as something that just happens during a match: "These situations arise on the pitch, I've collided with his shoulder. It drove me a little crazy too, but these things happen on the pitch. There's no need to make a story out of it."
For Suarez, that might be true considering this is the third time in his career that he's been banned from competition for biting an opponent. FIFA made it clear those type of actions won't be tolerated, especially on the sport's biggest stage.
As was the case when the incident first occurred, social media lit up following the announcement of the extended ban for the in-form superstar.
Rachel Nichols of CNN joked that Suarez's weak defense of the action clearly wasn't enough to convince the disciplinary committee:
Owen Gibson of The Guardian called the stadium ban, which was overshadowed by the other parts of the punishment, "unprecedented":
Suarez prohibited from entering any football stadium where Uruguay are playing for four months. Unprecedented— Owen Gibson (@owen_g) June 26, 2014
The Associated Press' Michael Giarrusso noted the ban will not only extend into the Premier League campaign, but the Reds' early Champions League fixtures, as well:
FIFA bans Suarez for 4 months for biting opponent. He'll miss start of EPL season, and early Champions League games. http://t.co/NNM3FZjP9v— Michael A. Giarrusso (@MichaelG1) June 26, 2014
Uber Football Fact pointed out that Suarez is no stranger to bans, despite the lack of red cards during actual matches:
Luis Suarez has now been banned for 34 games since 2010, despite not receiving a single red card.— Uber Football Fact (@UberFootFact) June 26, 2014
Former Liverpool goalkeeper Ray Clemence joined the club's supporters in hoping the ban wouldn't include domestic football, but the side wasn't so lucky in the end:
I think we expected Suarez to get a big ban but hoped not from domestic football as well. Big problem for @LFC now— Ray Clemence (@RayClem1) June 26, 2014
The Reds do have Daniel Sturridge to at least pick up some of the attacking slack. Suarez was completely dominant at times last season, however, and it's difficult to imagine the side finding anybody capable of replacing him in the short term.
ESPN Stats & Info reports the nine-match ban is the longest ever given out at the World Cup:
Luis Suárez's 9-game suspension is the longest in World Cup history.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 26, 2014
On a more light-hearted note, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports is curious as to how Suarez will spend his unexpected vacation:
Wonder how Suarez is going to spend his 9 match/4 month ban? Sharpening his chompers perhaps?— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) June 26, 2014
BBC Radio 5 Live provided a look at the Premier League matches the forward would miss if there isn't a successful appeal:
Barring appeal, here's what a four month ban from all football activity would look like for Suarez in the league. pic.twitter.com/EsmXudgWDp— BBC Radio 5 live (@bbc5live) June 26, 2014
Pete O'Rourke of Sky Sports states FIFA confirmed that the punishment doesn't impact a potential transfer amid speculation involving Suarez and Barcelona:
In the end, Miguel Delaney of ESPN correctly says it all falls squarely on Suarez's shoulders:
And ultimate truth here: this is Suarez's own fault. He's let his club down too. Don't want bad punishment/press... don't do things like it.— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) June 26, 2014
It's unclear whether Suarez plans to appeal. If the punishment stands, it's a major blow to Uruguay's chances of making a deep run in the World Cup and also puts Liverpool in a tough spot without him to start a campaign for the second straight year.
He's a player who has always forced clubs to accept the good with the bad, and more often than not, his extraordinary talent made people look past the negatives. FIFA sent a clear message it wasn't going to look the other way in this instance.
Whether Suarez will receive and understand the message—he hasn't following previous bans—is very much a mystery.