BARCELONA striker Luis Suarez has failed in his appeal to have a four-month ban completely overturned but a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport means he can now feature in friendlies for club and country.
The Uruguay international was suspended from all football-related activity for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup, with the punishment also including a nine-match international suspension and a £66,255 fine.
Suarez, the Uruguay Football Association and Barcelona – who spent £75m to sign the striker from Liverpool after he was sent home from Brazil in disgrace – appealed to CAS over the severity of the punishment and a number of restrictions have now been lifted.
He will not be able to play a competitive game until the Clasico against Real Madrid on October 26 but he will be able to train and feature in friendlies.
The CAS ruling stating the player’s ban only applied to “official” matches was soon followed by confirmation by a FIFA spokesman that the 27-year-old is now eligible to play in friendlies.
Barcelona’s priority was to have Suarez available to work with the team, important in pre-season but essential when he is a new player, and CAS have relented on that issue.
As a result he can now begin his new career immediately with the Catalans.
“Following the announcement of the verdict by the Court of Arbitration for Sport regarding the appeal against the sanction imposed on Luis Suarez by FIFA, FC Barcelona hereby announces that the player will join the first team’s training session scheduled for tomorrow Friday at 9.30am in the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper,” said a statement from the club.
“Likewise, the public presentation of Suarez as a new FC Barcelona player will be held on Monday at the Camp Nou, on occasion of the Joan Gamper Trophy match (against Mexican side Club Leon).”
It remains to be seen whether Suarez will play any part in Barca’s last scheduled pre-season friendly on Monday but it seems likely the club will organise other matches to help get the player up to speed while he sits out eight league matches and three Champions League games.
CAS felt Suarez’s ban broadly fitted the crime but believed extending it beyond the pitch was excessive.
“The CAS Panel has partially upheld the appeal.
The sanctions imposed on the player by FIFA have been generally confirmed,”
said a statement.
“However, the fourmonth suspension will apply to official matches only and no longer to other football-related activities (such as training, promotional activities and administrative matters).
“The CAS Panel found that the sanctions imposed on the player were generally proportionate to the offence committed.
“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.”