Monthly Archives: June 2014

Disgraced Suarez finally admits to biting Chiellini

Having previously denied any wrongdoing, the Uruguayan has come forward to apologise to the Italian defender

Disgraced Uruguay striker Luis Suarez has finally admitted to biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.

The Liverpool forward has been barred from all football-related activity for four months, banned for nine competitive international matches and hit with an €80,000 fine.

Suarez had previously denied biting the defender, instead insisting his face “hit against the player, leaving a small bruise … and a strong pain in my teeth” but has now come clean.

My apologies to Chiellini:

— Luis Suarez (@luis16suarez) June 30, 2014

The fallout from the incident has been vast and wide-reaching, with the president of the Uruguay Football Association, Jose Murjica, calling the ban “fascist” and Uruguay team-mate Diego Lugano branding it an “act of barbarity”.

Suarez was previously banned for seven matches in 2010 for biting PSV’s Otman Bakkal, during his time at Ajax before being suspended for a further 10 games after biting Branislav Ivanovic while playing for Liverpool.

The Uruguayan FA have informed Fifa that they will appeal against the ban, though it remains to be seen if Suarez’s apology will change their stance.

Chiellini himself has called the punishment on Suarez “excessive” and took to Twitter shortly after the Uruguayan’s apology to make it clear he holds no grudges over the incident.

.@luis16suarez It’s all forgotten. I hope FIFA will reduce your suspension.

— Giorgio Chiellini (@chiellini) June 30, 2014

Manchester City rival Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United in race for Sanchez

The Barcelona forward looks set to be involved in one of the biggest transfer sagas of the summer, with the Sky Blues becoming the latest club to register interest in the star

By Paul Clennam

Manchester City have asked Barcelona to keep them abreast of developments on the situation of forward Alexis Sanchez, as the Premier League’s elite clubs consider bids for the Chile international, Goal understands.

Arsenal, as exclusively revealed by Goal on Saturday, head the list of interested parties, with Liverpool and Manchester United also monitoring Sanchez’s future. But City are considering a big-money move themselves, despite facing a €61 million [£49m] spending cap this summer as a result of the fine handed to them by Uefa following their Financial Fair Play transgressions last year.

That has prompted a rethink in City’s transfer strategy, with the club now considering a cut-price move for a defender to free up cash to spend on Sanchez, after having already signed Porto midfielder Fernando for €15m [£12m].

Porto centre-back Eliaquim Mangala is still very much in the Premier League champions’ thoughts, while they have also weighed up a €31m [£25m] move for Roma’s Mehdi Benatia.

But manager Mauricio Pellegrini believes a move for Davide Astori, the 27-year-old Cagliari and Italy centre-back, for around €7.5m [£6m] could supplement the free transfer of Bacary Sagna and make more financial sense allied with a move for Sanchez.

And with Pellegrini currently in Brazil working for television station TV Chile and based close to the national team’s hotel, he could be ready to use his privileged access if given the green light by Barca.

The future of Yaya Toure could also play a part in any bid for Sanchez, with the Ivorian’s future up in the air at Eastlands.

Yaya has claimed City did not allow him time away from a club trip to Abu Dhabi following the end of the season to be by the side of his brother Ibrahim, who died of cancer earlier in June.

Toure’s advisor Dimitri Seluk also suggested the midfielder was unhappy with the club’s failure to acknowledge his birthday, and talks between the club and player have been scheduled after the 31-year-old’s three-week break following his involvement in the World Cup with the Ivory Coast.

And should Barcelona consider a swap involving Suarez and Yaya Toure, the wheels of a move could be greased more swiftly.

Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United could all provide serious competition for the 25-year-old’s signature, though, with all three ready to meet the asking price of around €40m [£32m].

With a quartet of big Premier League sides interested, and Juventus also in the hunt, Sanchez could be involved in the key transfer saga of the summer.

Kosovo club makes bold Suarez offer

With the Balkan nation not officially associated with Fifa, a first division team has made a shock offer to secure the services of the forward for the duration of his suspension

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez has been offered an unlikely safe haven from his Fifa ban by Kosovo Superleague outfit Hajvalia.

The forward has been suspended from all football activity for four months and banned for nine competitive international games for biting Giorgio Chiellini, meaning that he cannot appear for club or country until November at the earliest.

However with Kosovo not an official member of Fifa, club president Xhavit Pacolli is prepared to make an ambitious offer for Suarez, hoping that such a loophole will tempt the Liverpool man to serve his ban as a Hajvalia player.

“Suarez can’t play in the next four months,” he told Sport Plus.

“As we are not part of Fifa yet, I think he can play in Kosovo, so we have an offer that we will send to Liverpool.

Pacolli has readied a bid of €30,000 in addition to a monthly salary of €1,500 to tempt Suarez to play in the Balkan nation temporarily.

“This is the maximum that we can offer,” he added.

“This might sound ridiculous to him, but that is all we can do.

“If he is willing to come and play for us, he is welcome. As we are not part of Fifa, it would be ideal for him.”

Uruguay president lambasts Fifa with ‘bitches’ jibe

The leader of the South American country, Jose Mujica, swore whilst describing football’s governing body following Luis Suarez’s ban for biting Giorgio Chiellini

Uruguay are refusing to accept the suspension handed out to Luis Suarez following the striker’s bite on Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.

The Liverpool forward has been barred from all football-related activity for four months, banned for nine competitive international matches and hit with an €80,000 fine.

The punishment took into account the fact that Suarez had been found guilty of ill-discipline on the field on more than one occasion previously, a fact acknowledged by Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke.

Uruguay president Jose Murjica, however, has criticised the ban, calling it “fascist”.

“Fifa are a bunch of old sons of bitches,” he said, speaking to a journalist. “They could have punished him, but not given him this fascist ban.”

The 79-year-old echoes the sentiments of his compatriots, including national captain Diego Lugano, who have largely refused to accept Suarez’s sanctions.

Suarez was previously banned for seven matches in 2010 for biting PSV’s Otman Bakkal, during his time at Ajax.

Most recently, he was suspended for a further 10 games after biting Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea while playing for Liverpool in the Premier League.

The Uruguayan FA have informed Fifa that they will appeal against the ban, while Suarez himself has argued that he lost his balance, making his face collide with Chiellini’s shoulder.

Liverpool should keep Suarez, says Comolli

The former Anfield director of football, who was at the club when the striker signed in January 2011, expects Europe’s biggest sides to use his bite ban as a bargaining tool

Liverpool should “definitely” keep Luis Suarez this summer despite the striker’s latest biting controversy, according to former director of football Damien Comolli.

Suarez has been banned from all football-related activity for four months by Fifa for biting Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay’s Group C victory over Italy.

The Anfield front man stands to miss as many as 13 games as a result, but the club’s former director of football, who was involved in the signing of the striker, believes Suarez is unique and it would be wrong of the club to sell him.

“Who do you replace him with? There is nobody like him around,” Comolli told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“If there was, Real Madrid and Barcelona would go after them and not Suarez.”

Comolli also expects the likes of Barca and Real to use the suspension – Suarez’s second since joining Liverpool after biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in 2013 – to “drive the price down” in any transfer negotiations.

He added: “If there was a buying club and they felt Liverpool would sell, they will take advantage and try to drive the price down.”

Suarez insists he did not intentionally bite Chiellini, but instead lost his balance and fell on the Italy defender.

Fifa disciplinary committee must now be consistent in wake of Suarez suspension

COMMENT: The hysterical reaction to the forward’s four-month ban is understandable, given Pepe’s previous misdemeanours were not considered when he was sanctioned

By Mark Doyle in Brazil

“It’s a breach of human rights … barbarity,” according to Diego Lugano. “They might as well handcuff him and throw him in Guantanamo,” fumed Diego Maradona.

It’s fair to say that the reaction to Luis Suarez’s suspension for biting Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay’s World Cup win over Italy last week has been ridiculously over the top. Rational analysis of the severity of the ban has been difficult amidst such hysteria.

However, while the hyperbolic views of Lugano and Maradona would be laughable were they not so offensive to those whose human rights are actually being violated on a daily basis across the globe, there is no denying that a not insignificant number of people within football believe the ban to be “excessive”.

Indeed, what those defending the four-month suspension from all “football-related activity” seem to find even more stupefying than the fact that Suarez has bitten an opponent for a third time, is the groundswell of support for the forward, which extends beyond the boundaries of his native Uruguay.

However, while the striker’s crime is as indefensible as it is inexplicable, the argument that he has been treated differently to his peers is understandable – because he has been.

Nobody is disputing the fact that Suarez deserved to be sanctioned. Banning a repeat offender for four months for biting could not normally be considered excessive, as it is a reprehensible act worthy of a significant suspension. But in this instance it could be argued that the punishment is too severe, and the issue is the inconsistency.

Firstly, there is the fact that Suarez’s suspension extends beyond international football. Not only will he miss his country’s next nine competitive fixtures, he will also be unavailable to his club, Liverpool, until the end of October. That move was motivated by the fact that this is Suarez’s third offence. The argument goes that they had to send a clear message that something as contemptible as biting is simply not acceptable within the game. Consequently, they came down hard on Suarez. Which is truly fair enough … except for the fact that they blindly chose to ignore previous misdemeanours when it came to considering how long to suspend Pepe for after the defender was dismissed during Portugal’s 4-0 loss to Germany.

Pepe’s career has been characterised by random acts of aggression – yet he was only ordered to serve the mandatory one-game ban for headbutting Thomas Muller. Why was Suarez’s rap sheet taken into account – and not Pepe’s? Of course, Fifa found Suarez had exhibited a disturbing and complete absence of “any contrition or repentance” (Suarez’s claim that he simply “lost his balance” insulted the intelligence of not only the victim, Chiellini, and Fifa’s disciplinary committe, but everyone who witnessed it) but then, Pepe maintains that he did not deserve a red.

Furthermore, Cameroon midfielder Alex Song’s suspension for a similarly unprovoked assault on Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic was extended to a total three games, thus ending his World Cup. Why? Why was Pepe only banned for only one game for ‘violent conduct’, and Song three? Particularly when the latter openly admitted his guilt and expressed heartfelt remorese.

The inconsistencies in the Pepe and Song cases are staggering so it is hardly surprising then, that there is a growing sense that there is one rule for the more powerful nations – and one rule for the rest. And that is why there has been uproar in Uruguay. Is there anger misplaced? Yes, of course, their fury should be directed at the man that let them down on the biggest stage of all. And it is embarrasing to hear people talk of the English media having a vendetta against Suarez, last season’s Football Writers’ Player of the Year. But those claiming Suarez has been made a scapegoat are not without reason.

Biting, of course, is a particularly savage and cowardly act and it has no place in the game. Fifa were, therefore, well within their rights to make an example of Suarez. But football has more pressing and more prevalent problems to solve, so can we now expect to see them addressed in such refreshingly firm fashion?

There are, after all, players and coaches who have spent less than four months on the touchline for doping or involvement in match-fixing. And will Fifa now finally tackle the issue of ‘simulation’, one of the scourges of the modern game? Arjen Robben has admitted that he dived during Netherlands’ last-16 win over Mexico on Sunday. We are often told that it is so hard to prove a player has intentionally attempted to deceive the referee so, now that we have a public confession, surely this is an open-and-shut case? Surely Robben should be sanctioned? Particularly as it could be argued that he, too, has ‘previous’.

Even more importantly, when exactly is Fifa going to finally take a strong stand in the fight against racism? When are we going to see clubs fined more than a few thousand euro for incidents racial abuse within their stadia?

All we really have at the moment is the well-meaning ‘Say No to Racism’ campaign but the powers that be are presently in no position to talk about issues of inequality given how inconsistently it is dealing with indiscipline.

Fifa’s disciplinary committee has, ironically enough, taken the Suarez incident as an opportunity to bear its teeth. It has set a precedent with the four-month suspension – and should be commended for doing so. But only if that precedent is now followed.

Follow Mark Doyle on