Welcome back to the Luis Suarez Carnage Carnival.
FIFA announced on Thursday that the Uruguay forward has been suspended for nine international matches for his bite on Italy centre-back Giorgio Chiellini during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, as well as a four-month worldwide ban from any football event.
As per BBC Sport, that rules Suarez immediately out of the remainder of the World Cup, while the "all football-related activity" ban means he will also face suspension from domestic and Champions League football with his club, Liverpool.
Suarez cannot enter any stadium during these 4 months and is suspended for NINE World Cup matches involving Uruguay!— The Football Café (@thefootballcafe) June 26, 2014
Having already been suspended twice during his career for biting opponents, firstly while with Ajax and only just over a year ago with Liverpool, Suarez was never likely to receive anything other than a heavy suspension this time. A 10-game ban in the Premier League ran over into the 2013-14 season, and the forward then spent most of the campaign trying to win round his critics with a series of impressive performances.
He finished as Premier League runner-up, top-scored in the division—sharing the European top-scorer award with Cristiano Ronaldo—and made a clean sweep of the Player of the Year awards in England.
That upward trajectory continued in the second group-stage game, where he fired two goals for Uruguay to beat England 2-1, setting his nation up for World Cup progression if they could beat Italy—before the act on Chiellini provoked widespread criticism from pundits, players and fans alike.
Suarez has received the biggest-ever international ban handed down by FIFA, which some feel still is not enough.
He will now be certain of lingering media attention during whatever time at the finals Uruguay have left, and his entire future with both club and country are likely in the balance at this point.
Suarez is Uruguay's all-time record scorer with 40 goals, but he will not be adding to that tally with meaningful strikes anytime soon.
He may yet be able to feature in friendly games for his nation, but needing to find some way of remaining successful without him, the question has to be asked whether there is any point in Uruguay playing him in exhibition games when they could be seeing what the likes of Abel Hernandez has to offer or else utilising Edinson Cavani as a lone forward.
Clearly, losing their best player is not going to benefit them at the World Cup in the slightest, and they face a tough round of 16 match against Colombia next. But at this point, Uruguay's off-field focus has to be on saving face.
The condemnation of Suarez has been almost absolute, with the likes of Diego Lugano's backing of his team-mate, as per The Independent, having been scorned as unsuitable and desperate.
The fact that Suárez, Lugano and the Uruguayan FA tried to make it out like he did nothing wrong is one of the worst parts about this.— TalkBalls (@TalkFoot) June 26, 2014
Uruguay captain Diego Lugano still in denial about the Luis Suarez incident. 'What incident?,' was his reply to me pic.twitter.com/YmziPPwpN4— Ben Smith (@BenSmithBBC) June 25, 2014
Uruguay can appeal the ban on Suarez, but to what end? They will be without him for the rest of the finals regardless and will only be seen as playing down what many view as a major breach of discipline. The only potential upside is that it may delay when Suarez's ban starts, enabling him to feature against Colombia.
Should Suarez take to the field, his welcome would not likely be a warm one.
However, Uruguay and Suarez himself are a different matter. Appeal means he can play on Saturday probably and both desperate for him to play— Stuart Gilhooly (@PFAISolicitor) June 26, 2014
The sideshow to the incident have somehow been left worse off: Liverpool cannot now use their own player for an action when he wasn't even representing them.
A four-month ban for Suarez, effective immediately, means he will not take part in any scheduled game for the Reds until November unless they progress to the League Cup fourth round, which takes place right at the end of October.
In either scenario, they will once again be without their leading player for a suspension he has previously been punished for, and they will be left fuming at his indiscretion and the impact it will have on their plans for the new season, which includes a first return to the Champions League since 2009.
Will this have the effect of clubs "suggesting" to players not to play internationals with risk of worldwide bans in place?— Stuart Gilhooly (@PFAISolicitor) June 26, 2014
There remains some confusion also on whether the club will be allowed to transfer Suarez away to another team or not.
Manager Brendan Rodgers has publicly backed his forward until now, but Liverpool cannot continue to absorb the suspensions—over 30 matches now including the next four months—that Suarez accrues without eventually giving in and offloading the problem to someone else.
The Suarez saga will rumble on for now, but there cannot be much doubt that FIFA has imposed a massive penalty on a star name to protect the sanctity of its flagship tournament, a penalty which leaves all three parties with vested interests with a lot of decision-making to do in the coming days.
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