Luis Suárez admits receiving professional help to prevent further biting
Striker promises Barcelona fans that there will be no repeat of past incidents
Luis Suarez was officially unveiled as a Barcelona player at Camp Nou on Tuesday. Photograph: Gustau Nacarino/Reuters
Luis Suárez promised Barcelona fans that he will never bite another player again and revealed that he has sought professional help to prevent it happening for a fourth time.
The Uruguay striker spoke publicly for the first time on Tuesday since the incident with the Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup on June24th – following previous bites on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic and PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal – and, although he repeatedly said that he does not want to look back and described the question of therapy as a “private issue”, he admitted: “I have dealt with the appropriate professionals.”
Suárez was speaking at his presentation as a Barcelona player, during which the club’s vice-president, Jordi Mestre, claimed that the Catalans had paid €81 million for the striker – €13 million lower than his €94 million buy-out clause. “That was fundamentally down to two factors: the skill of those negotiating and Suárez’s desire to come,” confirmed Mestre.
The striker, who did not dwell on his time in the Premier League, described this as a “distant dream”: his wife’s family live just outside the city and he has attended the Camp Nou before, including Barça’s famous 5-0 victory over Real Madrid and their 4-1 win against Arsenal in the Champions League.
If few fear that the Uruguayan will not play well, there may be worries of a repeat offence. But Suárez said that his contract does not contain any specific clauses about his behaviour, saying it was “the same” as any other player’s contract. And he insisted: “I say to all the fans: don’t worry, I won’t do that again.”
Asked about psychiatric treatment and whether he was seeking help, he responded: “That is a private issue . . . but I have seen the right professionals. The ban is what it is and I have accept that. I prefer not to look back. I want to forget about that game: it [\was]a difficult moment for me.”
Looking back, though, is inevitable and Suárez also said that he had felt depressed in the days after he was sent home from the World Cup having been handed a nine-game international ban and a four-month ban on all football activity. “There were a few days when I was depressed and I didn’t feel like talking at all. But I spent some time alone with my family and I thought about it and realised that I had to accept the reality and apologise,” he said. “It’s in the past now, forgotten.”
Barcelona were finally given the go-ahead to present the striker after the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld the nine-game international and four-month club ban on “footballing activities”, but ruled that it only applied to competitive games. Suárez was finally allowed to train with his new team-mates on Friday and was able to play 14 minutes in a friendly against the Mexican side León on Monday. Barcelona’s sporting director is keen for him to play in Uruguay’s friendlies in Japan and South Korea during September.
“I was the one who made a mistake and the punishment is what it is. I accept that,” Suárez said. Asked if there is a lesson to be learnt from the Fifa ban, he responded: “I have to learn a lesson with myself. I am trying to forget it now.”
This was a theme to which he returned often. When he was asked if he had been worried that the bite might jeopardise his chances of signing for Barcelona, he responded: “Of course I was worried. Not just because of the signing, but because of what I had done. It is in the past now. I want to forget it.
“It hurts to not be able to play for Barcelona and even more so to not be able to play for Uruguay because of how much I love playing for my country. It hurts a lot not to be able to play the Copa América.”
In total, Suárez will miss 20 games and will not be available until October 26th, when Barcelona play Real Madrid. Suárez, though, believes that he will not have a problem in being ready for that game. Experience of bans gives him a curious advantage: “It’s not the same but I had a [\similar] situation last year at Liverpool. I started to play on 30 September. It is a long time but if you concentrate and if the focus for the training is good, it is okay.”
“I feel fine physically. The only thing that hurts is my feet because I have not been used to wearing football boots.”