RIO DE JANEIRO -- Luis Suarez exits the World Cup with one of the longest bans in tournament history, and his reputation once again in tatters.
The Uruguay forward, widely regarded as one of the best players in the world, was banned by FIFA from all football for four months on Thursday for biting an Italian opponent in an incident that marred the team’s victory and progression to the second round.
It’s the third time he’s served a suspension for biting an opponent -- after similar incidents at both Ajax in the Dutch league and Liverpool in England -- and the second straight World Cup where Suarez exits in disgrace.
The four-month ban will sideline Suarez for the first two months of Liverpool’s season. He was also suspended for Uruguay’s next nine matches, which extends beyond the four months and rules him out of next year’s Copa America, where his team is the defending champion. The Uruguayan football federation said it would appeal.
Aside from Diego Maradona’s 15-month suspension for a failed drug test at the 1994 tournament, it’s the longest ban handed out to a player at the World Cup. FIFA also fined Suarez 100,000 Swiss francs ($112,000).
Suarez bit the left shoulder of defender Giorgio Chiellini on Tuesday in Natal during Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy, an incident that went unpunished by the referee but was witnessed by fans around the world on TV. Given Suarez’s previous biting incidents, the images went viral immediately.
"Such behavior 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 in a statement.