The first time Luis Suarez bit a player, for Ajax back in 2010, he received a seven match ban. Following his second illegal on-field meal, Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea his victim in 2012, Suarez was suspended for a total of 10 games by the English Football Association. However after his almost unbelievable third biting indiscretion Suarez has had the book really thrown at him by FIFA, the Uruguayan striker receiving a nine game international ban as well as a four month banishment from all football related activities.
With the photographic and video evidence of Suarez’s latest bite of Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini indisputable (no matter what the Uruguayan press say) it is almost impossible to defend Suarez’s actions on Monday afternoon or describe the ban handed down to him by FIFA as being too harsh. Suarez will be able to return from his suspension on October 26 later this year, which means in addition to missing the remainder of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil he is likely to be ruled out for a minimum of one League Cup tie for his club side Liverpool, as well as three Champions League group games and nine Premier League clashes. That’s a total of 13 domestic games and at least one international game, depending on whether of not Uruguay progress past the last 16 of the World Cup. Seven games, to 10, to 14. If anything, Suarez can count himself lucky for receiving such a lenient ban after his third offense of the same nature. Imagine this logic being applied in this scenario: you’re caught speeding on the motorway for a third time and instead of receiving an automatic ban from driving for a year you’re allowed to continue driving on the road. The American judicial system also imposes a three strike rule. FIFA? Not so much.
Yet what’s done is done, and Suarez’s ban won’t increase nor decrease for this indiscretion. FIFA have had their say and the Uruguayan FA can only appeal the £60,000 fine Suarez received. What happens next in the Liverpool forward’s career, however, is still up for discussion. One near certainty is that the Uruguayan’s transfer value will decrease markedly. If Liverpool choose to sell him, or Suarez forces a switch himself, he’ll no longer fetch a fee in the region of Gareth Bale’s world record £85 million. More than likely that figure will be near halved, although it wouldn’t be surprising to see either Real Madrid or Barcelona fork out up to £60 million to land Suarez eventually.
But what of the chances Suarez actually departs Anfield this summer? You’d have to assume that both of the Spanish giants, who pride themselves on being morally straight laced, will be put off by Suarez’s record of transgressions. Even with morals thrown totally out of the window the high probability that Suarez will break the rules again in the future and incur another lengthy ban would seem to deter any of his potential suitors. Suarez might just be the ultimate boom or bust commodity in professional sport: on the one hand he is as talented as any footballer on the planet and can win a game in an instant, on the other his next brain lapse could see him banned for an entire season. Will Real or Barca push for a move this summer? Probably not. But if Suarez returns in November and keeps himself out of trouble until January 1 the Spanish vultures could begin to circle Anfield once more.
Liverpool knew full well when they signed Luis Suarez that he had a propensity to break the rules. They reaped the rewards last season when he nearly led the Reds to their first title in two decades. Now they’ll pay the price for this particular genius revealing his darker side once more. The question Brendan Rodgers and co must answer is this: what really is the price of success?