FIFA, player union agree Luis Suarez needs treatment after third biting incident

Uruguay striker Luis Suarez was suspended for four months for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.
Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
Uruguay striker Luis Suarez was suspended for four months for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.

RIO DE JANEIRO — The players’ union and soccer’s governing body agree on one thing in the wake of the heavy ban imposed on Luis Suarez for his third biting incident: The Uruguay and Liverpool striker needs help.

Suarez returned to Montevideo early Friday, arriving too late to see the hundreds of Uruguay fans who had gathered the previous night to give him a hero’s welcome despite his World Cup banishment.

In Rio de Janeiro, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said a third biting incident in Suarez’s career was ‘‘unacceptable.’’


‘‘I think he should find a way to stop doing it — he should go through a treatment,’’ Valcke told reporters at Maracana Stadium, where Uruguay plays Colombia in a Round of 16 match Saturday.

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The players’ union, FIFPro, came to the same conclusion but from a more sympathetic approach. FIFPro said the FIFA disciplinary panel’s ban for Suarez of nine Uruguay matches and four months from all football ‘‘infringes his right to work’’ and doesn’t offer him the treatment he needs.

‘‘Luis Suarez should receive all the support he needs to deal with any off-field issues he may be experiencing at this time,’’ the union said, adding that ‘‘treatment must be a part of any sanction.’’

Neither Valcke nor FIFPro specified if the treatment should include anger management therapy or counselling.

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez, meanwhile, resigned from FIFA’s strategic committee in protest of the Suarez punishment.


The coach said FIFA seems to have ‘‘values very different from those that I have.’’

Tabarez, a former member of coaching advisory groups at FIFA tournaments, said, ‘‘I now feel I must leave those positions.’’

The FIFA strategic committee is chaired by FIFA president Sepp Blatter and deals with ‘‘global strategies for football and its political, economic and social status.’’

It meets no more than twice a year and has largely symbolic status within FIFA.

From Italy, Suarez also received support from his latest victim, Giorgio Chiellini, who described the sanction as excessive.


Suarez bit Chiellini’s left shoulder during Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy at Natal Tuesday. The incident went unpunished by the referee but was broadcast around the world on TV.

It was the third time Suarez has bitten an opponent, after incidents in the Dutch and English leagues. He was banned for seven and 10 matches, respectively.

‘‘If it starts to be more than once, it is not any more an [isolated] incident, so that is why also the sanction has to be exemplary,’’ said Valcke. ‘‘I applaud the decision.

‘‘What happened with Suarez was beyond the game, was something which is far beyond the fair play and the attitude you can have when you play at the World Cup.”

Still, FIFPro said the sanctions should be reduced, calling on FIFA’s appeals panel to ‘‘focus especially on the accumulation of sanctions.’’

‘‘The fact that Suarez is prohibited from working for a long period must be addressed as it directly infringes his right to work,’’ the Netherlands-based union said in a statement.