Belfast Telegraph

Fifa reject Suarez's appeal, but banned striker fights on

By Sam Wallace

Luis Suarez will make one more last-ditch effort to have his record-breaking ban reduced – in order to start the new season with Barcelona.

The Uruguay striker, whose departure from Liverpool to the Nou Camp is now regarded as inevitable by the Anfield owners, had his appeal against a four-month ban rejected by Fifa.

But the 27-year-old still believes he can get the domestic football side of the ban suspended or reduced because the offence happened in Uruguay's colours.

And if the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) agrees to hear his case, then Suarez WILL be free to start the new season in the No.9 shirt of Barcelona – which has just been vacated by Arsenal-bound Alexis Sanchez.

Under CAS rules, a ban can be suspended while they listen to the player's appeal.

It does represent a major gamble by the player, though – because, if the appeal fails, the four-month ban will then start later in the year and may not expire until nearly Christmas.

At present, part of his ban is being eaten up, so to speak, by the close season and is due to expire in October. A further appeal could also test the patience of Barca.

At present, the Catalan giants are as keen to sign Suarez — for a whopping fee of around £70m — as he is to play for them.

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility, however, that the club might feel he isn’t worth the bother and they could look elsewhere.

Suarez’s four-month ban from all football activity, including a nine-match international ban, sanction was imposed on June 26.

Fifa’s head of media Delia Fischer said: “The Fifa appeal committee has decided to reject the appeals lodged by both the Uruguayan player Luis Suarez and the Uruguayan FA, and to confirm the decision rendered by the Fifa disciplinary committee on 25 June 2014 in its entirety.

But she added: “The relevant decision is not yet final and binding, ie. an appeal to Cas is still possible by the player and/or the Uruguayan FA, subject to certain conditions.”

She confirmed CAS could order the ban to be suspended while it dealt with the case, saying telling a news conference in Rio de Janeiro: “CAS may order the appeal to have a suspensive effect.”

The ruling to uphold the sanctions was expected, as Fifa’s appeals panel seldom changes its disciplinary verdicts, even though Suarez has subsequently shown remorse.

In handing out the ban in the first place, the Fifa disciplinary committee’s initial decision took into account that there had been no remorse from Suarez at that time, plus the fact that it was the third time he had been involved in biting an opponent, after similar incidents at both Ajax, when he attacked PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal in the Dutch league in 2010, and Liverpool, when he bit Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in April 2013 and was subsequently banned for 10 games.

The incident in Natal was missed by match officials in Natal, and Fifa’s disciplinary committee studied video evidence before charging the Uruguayan.

After lodging his appeal, Suarez did then issue a formal apology to his latest victim, Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini, and vowed never to bite anyone again.

Fifa has confirmed that the ban will not stand in the way of any transfer to Barcelona.

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