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Suarez Investigation Unlikely to Lead to Club Ban

Luis Suarez is officially under investigation for appearing to bite Giorgio Chiellini. We take a look at what that could mean in the short term for Suarez—and Liverpool.

Clive Rose

There was never any doubt of course, but FIFA have today confirmed that Luis Suarez is indeed under investigation after the striker fell teeth-first into Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini yesterday at the World Cup. Due to the need to have the case—and any potential appeal—settled before Uruguay's Round of 16 match on Saturday, Uruguay has until this evening to provide their evidence and statements, with a ruling expected as early as tomorrow.

A statement read: "FIFA can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the player Luis Suarez of Uruguay following an apparent breach of article 48 and/or article 57 of the FIFA disciplinary code during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil match Italy-Uruguay played on 24 June 2014. The player and/or the Uruguayan FA are invited to provide any documentary evidence they deem relevant until 25 June 2014, 5PM, Brasilia time."

Articles 48 and 57 read:

48 Misconduct against opponents or persons other than match
1. Including the automatic suspension incurred in accordance with art. 18 par. 4, any recipient of a direct red card shall be suspended as follows:
a) one match for denying the opposing team a clear goal-scoring opportunity (particularly by deliberately handling the ball);
b) at least one match for serious foul play (particularly in the case of excessive or brute force);
c) at least one match for unsporting conduct towards an opponent or a person other than a match official (subject to art. 53, 54 and 57-60);
d) at least two matches for assaulting (elbowing, punching, kicking etc.) an opponent or a person other than a match official;
e) at least six matches for spitting at an opponent or a person other than a match official.
2. A fine may also be imposed in all cases.
3. The right is reserved to punish an infringement in accordance with art. 77 a).

57 Offensive behaviour and fair play
Anyone who insults someone in any way, especially by using offensive gestures or language, or who violates the principles of fair play or whose behaviour is unsporting in any other way may be subject to sanctions in accordance with art. 10 ff.

Suarez would appear to have run afoul of sub-articles 1c and 1d of article 48, as well as all of article 57, suggesting a minimum ban of three matches for his violation of 1c and 1d as well as a fine. A lengthier ban remains possible but not especially common in cases where players are accused of violating the articles Suarez has been charged with.

Whatever ruling FIFA hand down, and though missing the remainder of the World Cup remains a quite likely outcome, it is almost unthinkable that any ban would impact Suarez at the club level. Even were FIFA desirous of making an example of Suarez, they will be not be eager to set a precedent that would lead to increased tension between clubs and federations around the world.

Tension already exists between clubs and the international federations and confederations over releasing players whose wages are paid for by their clubs and who may return injured from international duty. Setting a precedent that says those players might also come back banned from an important league or cup match due to an international misdeed would put FIFA instantly at odds with not just Liverpool, but almost every club on the planet.

Still, it seems unimaginable Suarez will not be punished, and rightly so. He will likely miss at least three matches under his clear violations of article 48 and potentially more than that, though the violations he is charged with do not suggest the extreme case that has been put forward in some quarters following the incident and a multi-year ban, for the moment at least, appears unlikely.

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