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Today in Laussane, Switzerland, Luis Suarez pled his case to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) to appeal the FIFA ban the player received for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini in a World Cup match this past June. The appeal challenged FIFA’s imposed four-month ban from all football-related activity and an additional nine-game ban for official Uruguay matches. As time has passed and the initial outrage surrounding the incident has subsided, many are calling the ban excessive and demand that it be lessened. After the appeal, CAS made a statement saying that their decision will be announced next week.
On June 24 in Brazil, the air was thick with indignation following the match between Italy and Uruguay. Not only did Italy’s Chiellini find himself on the receiving end a Suarez bite, but Italy’s chance to advance in the Round of 16 was also nipped by the 1-0 loss to Uruguay. The World Cup coverage of the issue was ripe with fury and fine-tuned to the fact that this was Suarez’ third alleged biting offense.
Taylor Twellman’s call for a lifetime ban did not hit deaf ears in the following days. Chiellini’s initial comment after the game pointed the finger at FIFA for allowing such abhorrent behavior, especially from one of the World Cup’s spotlight figures. When FIFA responded with the four-month ban from all football activity, a nine-game ban from national play and a fine of $112,000, even Chiellini came out claiming FIFA’s decision was undue.
Since the Uruguayan FA and Suarez’ attempts to appeal the bite ban have been rejected by the FIFA Appeal Committee, the only avenue left for the player is the CAS. One of Suarez’ lawyers, Alejandro Balbi, believes the CAS will find FIFA’s ruling to be extravagant. Another member on Suarez’ legal team, Daniel Cravo, gave insight into what was presented before the CAS arbitrators on the Uruguayan’s behalf.
According to Cravo, there is no precedent to justify FIFA’s four-month ban insofar as it is inclusive of club play. Since the incident in question occurred during the World Cup, the punishment should be restricted to international play. However that being said, Cravo continued, “I am going to try and reduce his ban with Uruguay,” noting that the current nine-game ban keeps Suarez off the national squad until 2016.
Cravo went on to explain that he believed FIFA’s decision was a result of the governing body’s need to show it could take action. In the past, FIFA has been criticized for a lack of action, and as Cravo put it, “There was dissatisfaction with how other incidents have been treated…and Suarez paid for them.”
FIFPro issued a statement Friday that reiterated the sentiments of Suarez’ legal team. The ban’s extension to club play is seen as an infringement of the player’s rights. FIFPro also said that FIFA’s initial justification of the ban as an educative measure would be best fulfilled by seeing that Suarez “receive treatment” for his actions.
As of now, Suarez’ four-month ban will end October 26. Unless the sanctions are overturned or drastically reduced, this means that the newly acquired Barcelona striker will miss the beginning of La Liga in two weeks. For now, Suarez sympathizers remain hopeful that the CAS will return with a favorable ruling next week that adequately responds to the extreme nature of FIFA’s imposed bite ban.
Commentary by Courtney Anderson