Tuesday 12 December 2017

Suarez can make Barca debut on Monday as ban terms are eased

Barcelona's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez arrives for his appeals before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne
Barcelona's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez arrives for his appeals before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne

Chris Bascombe

Luis Suarez could play for Barcelona for the first time on Monday after winning a partial victory yesterday at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Although the former Liverpool striker failed in an attempt to reduce his four-month suspension for biting an opponent, the Uruguayan will, however, be allowed to train with his new club Barcelona and play in friendlies following an amendment to his Fifa punishment. That means he could turn out next week against Mexican side Club Leon, which is bound to attract a massive crowd.

Suarez, who moved to Spain following a £75m summer transfer, was suspended from all football related activity for four months for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup.


That punishment has been reduced to some extent to enable Suarez to physically prepare for his return to football, but he will not be free to play in official matches for his new club until October. He faces 20 competitive games on the sidelines for club and country although he will finally be unveiled as a Barcelona player today, his club has confirmed.

FIFA decided a ban from international football was not sufficient punishment and took measures preventing the 27-year-old Uruguayan not only from playing for his club, but training professionally and even participating in an official unveiling upon moving to the Nou Camp.

It has been a legal minefield ever since FIFA announced its verdict against Suarez, lawyers arguing the governing body had no authority to stretch the boundaries of the punishment so far.

Although Suarez was banned for nine international games, the sanctions against him are even more damaging to his club.

At the time of the incident he was still a Liverpool player, and although a move to Spain seemed inevitable at that point, numerous points of contention were being explored which have since been adopted by Barcelona.

High on the agenda was the argument FIFA has no right to prevent a footballer doing his job on a day-to-day basis, effectively ordering the club to put the player on paid leave.

Last season Liverpool made a point of ensuring Suarez worked as hard as every other professional during his previous suspension for biting Branislav Ivanovic, and took internal disciplinary measures - forcing him to train alone - when his attitude was deemed inappropriate.

The initial FIFA decision effectively prevented the player from being able to fully justify being paid his salary. CAS appears to have considered this in yesterday's verdict.

The broader argument, however, is whether an on-field misdemeanour such as Suarez's taking place on the international stage warrants a lengthy ban at domestic level. On that front, Barcelona and Suarez failed to get the suspension halved.

Yesterday's ruling imposed a compromise whereby the South American can at least work with his team-mates on the training ground.

However, he will not be available for the start of the La Liga season and, particularly significantly, will miss the start of Barcelona's Champions League campaign. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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