Fifa has opened disciplinary proceedings* against Luis Suarez after he was accused of biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.
The striker clashed with Italian defender Chiellini in the 79th minute of the Group D match. Television replays showed Suarez moving his head towards Chiellini, and apparently sinking his teeth into the defender’s shoulder. Chiellini responded by hitting out. Both players fell to the ground with Suarez holding his teeth. Chiellini then pulled down his shirt to show the bite marks to the referee, who clearly did not witness the incident, otherwise Suarez would have been sent off.
Fifa can apply retrospective bans of up to two years if the disciplinary commission decides there is a case to answer.
Suarez served a 10-match ban last year for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic. Before his move to Liverpool in 2011, Suarez was also suspended for seven matches by the Netherlands football federation after biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal when he played for Ajax. And in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Suarez was sent off for a deliberate handball that helped Uruguay into the semi-final.
Glenn Hayes, Employment law Partner at national law firm Irwin Mitchell said: “The general position is that Suarez’s behaviour in the work environment would usually represent gross misconduct (given that it could be classified as an assault) and would usually result in the dismissal of an employee in most circumstances,”
“If the matter has occurred outside of work and is not connected to it for example in the form of a work social, the issue for the employer would usually be whether the actions of the employee had brought the business into disrepute. In the case of Suarez this could easily be argued – particularly as it is the second time an incident like this has happened whilst he has been with the club (and 3rd time overall) and the Anfield Club stood by the player last time despite risk to their reputation and despite his lengthy ban.
“The decision for Liverpool however is not really about whether they do what a ‘normal employer’ may do. With Barcelona and Real Madrid apparently planning to make significant bids for the player after the World Cup, the decision is whether they are willing to dismiss a player and waive a potential huge transfer fee. Much will depend on what punishment FIFA hands down but If the ban is sufficiently long so that Suarez is unable to fulfil his contract, this so called ‘frustration of contract’ could lead to claims by Liverpool for breach of contract on the part of Suarez.
“In the case of Adrian Mutu, a player sacked by Chelsea in 2004 following a positive drugs test, he was forced to pay £14m to Chelsea for failure to fulfil his contract. Even if this was the same sort of situation for Suarez, this is nothing like the 80 or 90m being discussed as a possible bid for his services by the Spanish giants. It will be interesting to see how the situation develops over the next few days and what stance Liverpool take in relation to their highest profile and most valued employee.”
FIFA have banned Luis Suarez from all football for four months and given him a nine-game international ban, plus a fine of 100,000 swiss francs.