Luis Suarez: Uruguay striker’s ‘bite’ hearing to continue
A decision is expected ahead of Uruguay’s match with Colombia on Saturday
The independent disciplinary committee met until late last night without coming to a verdict on the case of the Liverpool striker who has been charged with misconduct for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini.
Uruguay FA president Wilmar Valdez emerged from the Copacabana Palace hotel in Rio de Janeiro shortly after midnight local time to say the hearing would continue today.
Mr Valdez said: “We know they met for a long time but we don’t know if that means a good or a bad situation. They will continue in the morning.”
Suarez’s lawyer Alejandro Balbi, who is also a Uruguay FA board member travelled to Rio to defend the Liverpool striker and claimed there is a European campaign against him led by England and Italy.
An outcome is expected well ahead of Uruguay’s match with Colombia on Saturday and Suarez’s sponsors including adidas are keeping a close eye on the verdict.
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 see Suarez’s World Cup brought to an abrupt halt.
However there are influential voices who are trying to bring pressure to bear for the player to be dealt with more leniently.
According to Uruguay newspaper Subrayado, the most powerful figures in South American football gathered in the Copacabana Palace to try to secure a much less severe sanction.
These included Argentina’s long-standing vice-president Julio Grondona who is second only to Sepp Blatter in the pecking order, the president of CONMEBOL Eugenio Figueredo and his predecessor, Nicolas Leoz, who are both Uruguayan.
The independent disciplinary panel, chaired by Swiss lawyer Claudio Sulser, has a range of sanctions available up to 24-match ban or a two-year suspension from all football.
A worldwide ban would impact on his playing for Liverpool but there is no precedent for such a sanction happening.
It remains unclear whether Suarez’s previous biting bans - 10 games for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic and seven matches for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal - would be taken into consideration, but the panel do have that power if they wish.
A FIFA spokeswoman said: “They can take in all elements they deem necessary.”
Suarez has not appeared in person at the disciplinary hearing.
There are also reports that the Uruguay FA are claiming pictures of teeth-marks on Chiellini’s shoulder were digitally altered.
Suarez’s lawyer suggested there was a conspiracy against his client.
Mr Balbi told Uruguayan radio: “We don’t have any doubts that this has happened because it’s Suarez involved and secondly because Italy have been eliminated.
There’s a lot of pressure from England and Italy. ”There is a possibility that they ban him, because there are precedents, but we’re convinced that it was an absolutely casual play, because if Chiellini can show a scratch on one shoulder, Suarez can show a bruised and an almost closed eye.
“If every player starts showing the injuries he suffers and they open inquiries for them everything will be way too complicated in the future. We’re going to use all the arguments possible so that Luis gets out in the best possible way.
“You shouldn’t forget that we’re rivals of many and we can be for the hosts [Brazil] in the future. This does not go against what might have happened, but there’s no doubt that Suarez is a stone in the shoe for many.”
Uruguay won the Group D encounter in Natal 1-0 to secure a last-16 clash against Colombia.
Suarez defended himself on Uruguayan television 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.”
Chiellini, however, insists that Suarez knew exactly what he was doing and was dismayed that he was not sent off for his apparent actions.
The 29-year-old defender told Rai TV: “It was ridiculous not to send Suarez off, it is clear, clear-cut and there was the obvious dive afterwards because he knew very well that he did something that he shouldn’t have done.”