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Football: Suarez's suspension upheld, training ban lifted

The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Thursday (Aug 14) upheld Luis Suarez's four-month suspension for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini, but lifted his training ban.

GENEVA: Luis Suarez on Thursday (Aug 14) failed to win a reprieve from his four-month ban for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, but got a green light to resume training.

In a hotly-awaited ruling, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said it had found Suarez guilty of assault during Uruguay's World Cup match against Italy, in what was one of the highest-profile incidents at the sporting extravaganza in Brazil.

The decision means that the 27-year-old striker remains unable to make his debut for his new club Barcelona until Oct 25, but can at least train with his team-mates and be involved in promotional activities. He is also barred from taking to the pitch with Uruguay for nine consecutive official matches.

"The CAS Panel found that the sanctions imposed on the player were generally proportionate to the offence committed," the court said in a statement. "It has however considered that the stadium ban and the ban from 'any football-related activity' were excessive given that such measures are not appropriate to sanction the offence committed by the player and would still have an impact on his activity after the end of the suspension."

Suarez, accompanied by his lawyers and representatives of Barcelona and the Uruguayan Football Association, had last Friday pleaded his case in person at a closed-door session of the Swiss-based CAS, which is the final court of appeal in the sports world.

Its three expert arbitrators - two Swiss and one Italian - did not issue a detailed ruling because that case was heard under an expedited procedure under the agreement of all concerned. The CAS said that the full findings would follow at a later date.

Suarez, who has a record of bans for biting opponents, was barred from all football-related activity for four months after biting Chiellini on the shoulder during Uruguay's final Group C game on June 24 in the Brazilian city of Natal.

Uruguay advanced thanks to an 81st minute goal from Diego Godin, sending Italy packing 1-0.

Suarez has already served one match of his nine-game national team ban, having missed Uruguay's 2-0 loss to Colombia in the World Cup round of 16 on June 28.

In addition to suspending Suarez, world football's governing body FIFA has also fined him fined 100,000 Swiss francs (S$137,600), and the CAS kept that penalty in place.

BLOW FOR BARCELONA

FIFA adopted a tough stance at the World Cup because Suarez at first showed no remorse, though its boss Sepp Blatter later dubbed the punishment harsh. But after being sent home from Brazil, Suarez apologised.

"The truth is that my colleague Giorgio Chiellini suffered the physical result of a bite in the collision he suffered with me," Suarez said on Twitter on June 30.

"I deeply regret what occurred. I apologize to Giorgio Chiellini and the entire football family," he said, vowing that there would never be another incident.

Suarez subsequently left English giants Liverpool for Barcelona, after a 95-million-euro (S$158 million) deal with the Catalan powerhouses.

Suarez and the Uruguayan Football Association turned to the CAS after a failed appeal to FIFA, and were joined by Barcelona in the case.

Barcelona have been anxious to tap the striking skills that saw Suarez notch up 31 goals in 33 matches with Liverpool last season.

Suarez was backed in his appeal by world players' union FIFPro, which had called the sanctions disproportionate, notably because the ban on all football-related activity infringed his right to work for his club.

His lawyers had expressed confidence they would get the ban slashed to two months. That would have made him available to play from Aug 25, thereby only missing Barcelona's opening fixture of the season, at home to lowly Elche the day before.

Suarez has never explained his propensity to bite opponents. He earned a 10-game ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in 2013, after being sidelined for seven matches with Dutch club Ajax in 2010 for the same offence against PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal.

On Wednesday, English Premier League boss Richard Scudamore said that while Suarez was a great footballer, he was also "an accident waiting to happen".