I’m not sure how many of you saw it, but in the World Cup group match between Uruguay and Italy, the Uruguay striker Luis Suarez bit the Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini. This is the third time that this undoubtedly talented player has bitten another player! He did it in 2010 whilst playing for Ajax in the Netherlands when he bit PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal; and in 2013 he bit Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea whilst playing for his current team, Liverpool. For his bite in 2010 be served a 7-match ban, and in 2013 he served a 10-match ban.
FIFA acted very quickly over this incident, and Suarez has been given a 4-month ban from all involvement in football, including training with any team or even attending a football match. He has also been given a 9-match ban from playing for Uruguay, and his 4-month ban will mean he will miss the first ten-or-so matches of the club season.
My question is, is this ban sufficient? In my opinion the answer is no, it is not. If this were Suarez’s first biting offence then I would consider the punishment about right. Even if it were his second offence, I would think the ban was on the lenient side. But, as this is his third biting offence, I really feel FIFA’s ban is not sufficient. I think Suarez should serve a season ban at the very least; as the new season has not yet started it would isolate him for the best part of 13-14 months. I also think that FIFA should have insisted that Suarez undergoes some kind of psychological assessment and therapy, it is not normal for a 27-year old to bite people. It is the kind of behaviour you might expect from a 5-year old, but not a grown adult.
It also seems that Liverpool are going to off-load this troublesome striker, despite his phenomenal form this last season where he was Liverpool’s and the English Premier League’s top striker and won several footballing awards. Let me remind you, Suarez also served an 8-match ban in the 2011-12 for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra using the “n-word”. At the moment, Barcelona have said they wish to buy him, and I would imagine the Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers gave Suarez a final warning after his last biting incident, so I fully expect that he won’t be playing in the English Premiership come next season.
Whether Suarez ever will be able to change his ways remains to be seen. I don’t think he’ll be able to do it without some kind of therapy, but surely he must realise that he is within a hair’s breadth of ruining his career if he keeps up this unacceptable behaviour.
What do you think? Is the FIFA ban too lenient, or about right, or an over-reaction?