RIO DE JANEIRO: One of Luis Suarez’s sponsors has bitten back at the disgraced Uruguay forward, cancelling his contract over the incident with Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.
The online gambling firm 888poker took its own decision as FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke explaining why the unprecedented suspension of Suarez had to be exemplary.
A statement from 888poker said it had “decided to terminate its relationship” with “immediate effect.” Another sponsor, sportswear company Adidas, has dropped Suarez from all its World Cup-related promotions.
Suarez joined the company as a worldwide ambassador shortly before the World Cup, and produced several video diaries for the website during the tournament, including one after his two goals which defeated England.
He was banned by world federation FIFA’s disciplinary committee from all football for four months and from nine competitive internationals after assaulting Chiellini’s in Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy on Tuesday. The victory qualified Uruguay for a second-round tie in Rio tomorrow against Colombia, a game Suarez must miss.
Liverpool are reported to be considering legal advice because Suarez cannot even attend a match stadium anywhere until the end of October.
Both Chiellini and Uruguay federation president Wilmar Valdez have described the punishment as “excessive” but FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke today explained why the world federation believed it had to be exemplary.
Valcke said: “The disciplinary committee’s work was based on all the video footage and all the different angles from up to the 34 cameras . . . you can use this video footage and they decided [what he did] was beyond the game, far beyond the fair play and attitude you can have when you play at the World Cup, as the chair of the disciplinary committee said.
“When you are at the World Cup the teams and the players have to show the best of the best because they are the example for the rest of the world. The decision to sanction the player was because what he did is unacceptable and that is not the image we want to give.”
Valcke rejected a suggestion that Liverpool should feel ‘punished’ by the decision which means Suarez must miss the first two and a half months of the Premier League season.
He said: “It’s not Liverpool but the player who was punished for what he did. The disciplinary committee took into consideration past events and his past behaviour.
“They made a decision based on the evidence and information and past of what this player has done and that’s why it’s not limited to international games but a general football ban.”
Valcke suggested that Suarez undergo treatment, adding: “He should do something for himself because it’s definitely wrong and it’s not the first time. If it’s the first time it’s an incident. If it starts to be more than once then that’s why the sanction has to be exemplary.”
As for Chiellini’s comment, Valcke said: “You will always find someone who will say it is excessive but it was seen by 100s of millions of people. It is not what you want. It can be any football game – amateur football, professional football – that’s not what you do.
“I don’t bite the Minister if I am not happy with his work.”