FIFA defends Suarez biting ban that many call excessive

Fri Jun 27, 2014 7:11pm EDT
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By Mike Collett and William Schomberg

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - FIFA defended the harsh punishment it handed down to Uruguay striker Luis Suarez for biting an opponent during the World Cup, despite complaints on Friday from his coach, politicians and even the man he bit that the record penalty was excessive.

The 27-year-old striker was expelled from this year's tournament in Brazil and banned from international soccer for nine competitive games - the longest ever suspension handed out at a World Cup.

Further infuriating those who believe he has been unfairly treated by soccer's governing body, Suarez cannot do anything connected with soccer for four months, meaning he misses the start of English club Liverpool's 2014/15 campaign.

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said Suarez's previous misdemeanors on the pitch had been taken into account. The player was banned twice before for biting during club games.

"If it's the first time, it's an incident. More than once, it is not any more an incident," Valcke told reporters. "That is why also the sanction, it has to be exemplary.

"It was seen by hundreds of millions of people. It is not what you want your kids, what you want the little (ones) who are playing football around the world, to see at a World Cup," he told journalists at FIFA's daily tournament media briefing.

He also said Suarez should seek treatment to help him avoid such incidents in the future.

"I don't know if it exists, but he should do something by himself because it's definitely wrong."   Continued...

Uruguay's national soccer team player Luis Suarez arrives at a news conference prior a training session at the Dunas Arena soccer stadium in Natal, June 23, 2014.  REUTERS/Carlos Barria