Luis Suarez suffered the biggest ban imposed at a World Cup yesterday as FIFA threw the book at one of footballs's most talented but controversial players for biting the Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini .
The sport's governing body suspended the Uruguyan striker from all football-related activity for four months and ruled he could not play in his country's next nine competitive games, meaning he is unlikely to appear in non-friendly international matches until 2016. The ruling ended Suarez's World Cup and his lucrative off-field sponsorships are now in doubt.
"Such behaviour cannot be tolerated on any football pitch, and in particular not at a FIFA World Cup when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field," said Claudio Sulser, chairman of the disciplinary committee.
Loading article content
The four-month ban means Suarez will have to sit out the first two months of next season and will miss Liverpool's opening Premier League and Champions League matches.
The 27-year-old striker must immediately leave his Uruguay team-mates who are preparing for a World Cup last-16 match against Colombia on Saturday.
FIFA also fined Suarez 100,000 Swiss francs (£65,750) after 10 hours of deliberations by its independent disciplinary committee.
The Uruguayan FA will appeal against the ruling, but Suarez cannot play even if a challenge is lodged. The imposition of the fine could be delayed pending the appeal.
Suarez is one of the most gifted players in the game, scoring 31 league goals in 33 games for Liverpool last season. He returned from a month on the sidelines with an injury to score twice in Uruguay's 2-1 win over England last week, transforming the team's World Cup which began with defeat to Costa Rica in a game Suarez missed through injury. But he is also one of the game's most troubled players and has been banned twice previously for biting opponents.
The former Brazil striker, Ronaldo, had no sympathy. "Football must set an example and show examples of good players," he said. "People who are out of line must be punished. If my little children bit me, they are sent to the dark room with the big bad wolf. This is football's equivalent."
Suarez will not be able to train or attend matches with Liverpool until late October, a huge blow to their domestic and European ambitions.
"Liverpool Football Club will wait until we have seen and had time to review the FIFA disciplinary committee report before making any further comment," said Ian Ayre, the chief executive officer.
Although FIFA has banned many players for life and issued other lengthy playing bans, this is the record punishment imposed for wrongdoing at the World Cup, surpassing the eight-game ban imposed on Italy's Mauro Tassotti for breaking the nose of Spain's Luis Enrique in 1994
Suarez was banned for one match at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa for a deliberate handball that cost Ghana their place in the semi-finals.
The ruling may have long-term repercussions for Suarez off the pitch. German sportswear firm Adidas stopped short yesterday of dropping Suarez but said they would not use him in any further World Cup marketing.
Suarez's transfer value, estimated to be at least £50m, could also be affected. He served a 10-match ban last year after biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic and in 2010 he was suspended for seven games for biting PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal while playing for Ajax. In 2011 he was alleged to have racially abused Manchester United's Patrice Evra during a league match. He was banned for eight matches and fined £40,000.