Luis Suarez appeared before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) last Friday to appeal the FIFA ban that was imposed on the player for biting Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup. Suarez and his legal team were hoping CAS would lessen, if not overturn, what they deemed a disproportionate punishment. CAS returned with their verdict today and have chosen to uphold FIFA’s original ban, for the most part.
The original ban, as outlined by FIFA, included a nine-game ban from the Uruguay national team and a four-month ban from all football activity, all on top of a $112,000 fine. The ban did not keep the player from making a £75 million move to Barcelona, and luckily, CAS did amend one component of FIFA’s ruling.
CAS, a Switzerland-based international ruling body that settles sporting disputes, found FIFA’s decision to ban Suarez from all football activity for four months to be “excessive.” They reasoned that disallowing the player to train with his team would have an impact that would carry over after the four-month suspension had been served. In effect, CAS ruled that Suarez be allowed to train with Barcelona and partake in unofficial footballing activities.
The remaining untouched sanctions, namely, the four-month suspension from club and nine-game suspension from international play, translate to Suarez missing the first 11 matches with Barcelona and packing away his Uruguay jersey until 2016. That said, Suarez’ legal team feels that the verdict was a success and believes that the ability to practice with his club team and participate in friendly matches offsets some of the harshness of the original ban.
Meanwhile, the World players’ union, FIFPro, has issued a statement voicing its concerns with the CAS ruling. FIFPro said that the existing sanctions “are disproportionate in relation to [Suarez’] violation of the Fifa disciplinary code.”
Remaining positive, Barcelona stated on their website that the club plans to formally introduce Suarez this week. The club reported, “FC Barcelona hereby announces that the player will join the first team’s training session scheduled for tomorrow.” The statement continues, “Likewise, the public presentation of Suarez as a new FC Barcelona player will be held on Monday at the Camp Nou.” Barcelona has an exhibition match on Monday against Mexican club, León.
Though the prospect of being allowed to practice with the team, as well as participate in exhibition matches, is reassuring, it overlooks the fact that CAS largely upheld FIFA’s original ban on the player. Also overlooked were FIFPro’s original pleas that Suarez undergo treatment for repeated disciplinary run-ins with biting. The fact that FIFA was able to successfully implement a significant club suspension for a World Cup infraction is problematic to FIFPro.
Suarez’ club suspension ends October 25, but for now, the player is allowed to gear up and practice with his new teammates and World Cup foes, Lionel Messi and Neymar. The decision by CAS to, for the most part, uphold FIFA’s ban will be hard for Uruguayans and Barcelona fans to stomach. However, the ability to be able to practice with the club is a victory as far as the proceedings are concerned. In essence, it is better than nothing.
Commentary by Courtney Anderson