The Court of Arbitration for Sport has decided the punishment FIFA handed down to Luis Suarez for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during the 2014 FIFA World Cup should stand. The hearing took place at CAS headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Graham Dunbar of The Associated Press passed along the court's decision:
Dunbar also provided pieces of the statement from the court:
The sanctions imposed on the player were generally proportionate to the offense committed.
However, the 4-month suspension will apply to official matches only and no longer to other football-related activities (such as training, promotional activities and administrative matters).
NBC Sports' Joe Prince-Wright notes that Suarez is eligible to play in friendlies:
The Daily Mail notes that the striker is also allowed to play Uruguay's friendlies:
BBC News' Dan Roan continued:
CNN's Ben Wyatt noted surprise at the verdict:
The incident in question happened on the final matchday in Group D on June 24. The Uruguayan international collided with Chiellini, appearing to bite him on the shoulder in the process. The Italian proceeded to pull down his shirt to show the wound.
FIFA acted swiftly to hand down punishment for the bite. It announced two days later that Suarez would be suspended for nine international matches, banned from all football-related activity and stadiums for four months and fined over $100,000.
After initially denying the bite was intentional, Suarez released a statement apologizing for his actions and stating it would not happen again:
It marked the third time he was involved in a biting controversy, thus the need to make the remark about it not happening again. He previously received bans during stays with both Ajax and Liverpool for the same issue.
A couple of weeks after the apology, Suarez completed a move to Barcelona. The Spanish club, which clearly wasn't deterred by the striker's questionable reputation, stated the sides had agreed to a new five-year contract.
Hoping to avoid missing a sizable portion of the new campaign, Suarez continued the appeal process after being denied a reduced punishment by FIFA's appeal committee.
WhoScored provided stats to showcase why teams have always been willing to overlook Suarez's flaws to add him to their attacks:
Now that a final decision has been made, it should be time for Suarez to move forward. He's eligible to return on Sunday, October 26 against Real Madrid. There's no doubt there will be a massive amount of attention paid to his debut with the La Liga superpower.
It may go without saying, but the biggest thing for Suarez is staying out of trouble. Barcelona will hope this entire ordeal finally causes him to drop the antics and focus on football. As he showed with Liverpool last season, few players can match his productivity when that happens.
Only time will tell whether he lives up to his promises.