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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Liverpool could sue Luis Suarez if he is banned for biting - lawyer

Published 25/06/2014 | 12:45

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A leading employment lawyer believes Liverpool could potentially  sue Luis Suarez for breach of contract
A leading employment lawyer believes Liverpool could potentially sue Luis Suarez for breach of contract

Liverpool could build a case to sue Luis Suarez for breach of contract if he is banned for biting, according to a leading employment lawyer.

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The striker is at the centre of yet more controversy after appearing to sink his teeth into Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay's World Cup clash against Italy in Brazil on Tuesday.

World governing body FIFA is now investigating the matter and the 27-year-old could face a lengthy ban that could be extended to club football.

Suarez has twice been banned for biting opponents in the past.

Last year he was banned for 10 matches for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic while he incurred a seven-game suspension for a similar offence while at Ajax in 2010.

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 third 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."

The latest Suarez incident in the group match in Natal came amid growing speculation linking the PFA player of the year with a big-money move to Barcelona.

European champions Real Madrid have previously been linked with the player.

It remains to be seen whether such apparent interest is now tempered.

Liverpool have declined to comment on the matter. It is understood the club intend to let FIFA's process take its course before making their position clear.

Yet with Suarez having also been involved in numerous other controversies since joining Liverpool in 2011 - most infamously a race row with Manchester United's Patrice Evra that led to an eight-match ban - there is the potential for embarrassment for the Reds.

Hayes said: "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."

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