FORGET the comparisons with the length of ban that would ordinarily accompany a career-threatening two-footed tackle or head-butt on an opposition player, they are irrelevant.
FIFA were in unchartered territory when it came to punishing Luis Suarez because the simple reality is that no other footballer has bitten an opponent on three separate occasions, with the third of those offences coming amid the worldwide glare of a World Cup finals.
Suarez’s actions on Tuesday afternoon were so unforgivably abhorrent that whatever FIFA chose to throw at him would have been both justified and commensurate with the offence.
The ten-match ban that was imposed when Suarez bit Branislav Ivanovic in April 2013 clearly had no preventative impact, so why shouldn’t a four-month ban from all football-related activities be imposed in an attempt to prevent yet another repeat of an act that most right-minded people regard as completely unacceptable?
Given his previous track record, not to mention his point-blank refusal to apologise for the two previous occasions on which he has sunk his teeth into an opponent, Suarez can have no complaints about the severity of the punishment that was confirmed in the media suite of the Maracana yesterday afternoon.
He will not kick a ball until the start of November at the earliest, and has passed up the chance to lead Uruguay to World Cup glory, but only has himself to blame.
Where a degree of sympathy is justified is the effect the suspension will have on Liverpool, who employ Suarez and are therefore responsible for him, but who are unable to influence what he does when he is on international duty with Uruguay.
Despite paying Suarez around £3m for the next four months, Liverpool will be unable to call on their leading goalscorer’s services until the start of November, by which time he will have missed a total of 14 matches.
Some will argue that Liverpool had the option of getting rid of Suarez when his assault on Ivanovic came just 18 months after he had been found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra. If a leopard is incapable of changing its spots, there was always the risk of Suarez adding yet another indiscretion to his long list of disciplinary failures.
In the Anfield club’s defence, however, they have devoted a lot of time and money to supporting and counselling Suarez, who clearly has serious mental issues that sporadically influence his behaviour on the football field.
Having tried their best to control the striker’s behaviour, should they really be held responsible for his actions when he is on the other side of the world, playing in a tournament that is outside of their jurisdiction?
Some will argue that as a club employee, Suarez is effectively representing Liverpool whenever he walks onto a football field, no matter what shirt he is wearing. Others will feel the English club have been unfairly punished.
What is not in doubt is that FIFA have sent out a powerful message that similar behaviour will not be tolerated. Suarez’s brilliance is not in doubt, but his failings are utterly impossible to excuse or ignore.