Sponsor deals in doubt as Luis Suarez faces ban

Suarez in Natal yesterday. Picture: AP
Suarez in Natal yesterday. Picture: AP
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LUIS Suarez’s previous record for biting may be used in evidence against him when disciplinary chiefs consider the case against him for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini, Fifa has confirmed.

Suarez’s lawyer Alejandro Balbi, who is also a Uruguay FA board member, has travelled to Rio de Janeiro to defend the Liverpool striker and has suggested there is a European campaign against him led by England and Italy. The case is expected to be dealt with swiftly with an outcome well ahead of Uruguay’s match with Colombia on Saturday. Suarez’s sponsors, including adidas, are keeping a close eye on the outcome.

The video evidence appears damning and one senior Fifa official with experience of disciplinary cases, who asked to remain anonymous, believes the biting should be judged to be at least as serious as spitting, which carries a minimum six-game ban which would abruptly end Suarez’s World Cup.

The independent disciplinary panel, chaired by Swiss lawyer Claudio Sulser, has a range of sanctions available up to a 24-match ban or a two-year suspension from all football. A worldwide ban would affect Suarez playing for Liverpool, but there is no precedent for this.

Suarez was not due to appear at the hearing, but his lawyer and Uruguay FA president Wilmar Valdez will present his defence. There are reports that they will claim pictures of teeth-marks on Chiellini’s shoulder were digitally altered.

Suarez defended himself after the flashpoint, saying: “These situations happen on the pitch, we were both just inside the area, he struck me in the chest with his shoulder and he hit me in the eye as well.”

Adidas reminded Suarez of his responsibilities after his previous biting incident with Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.

Executives from the company met in Rio to discuss the latest incident yesterday. Gambling company 888poker announced they are “reviewing” their relationship with the “brand ambassador”.