Premier League - What does Luis Suarez's ban mean?

Luis Suarez has been banned for nine international games and for four months from all football - what do the sanctions meted out by FIFA mean for his club Liverpool and also in a broader sense?

Premier League - What does Luis Suarez's ban mean?

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Luis Suarez and his Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers (AFP)

Liverpool’s CL campaign could be over before it started

Luis Suarez is by far Liverpool’s best player. Last season he was the Premier League’s best player. Can he become the Champions League’s best player? Well, maybe one day but probably not next season as he will miss the first three games of the group stages if the ban is upheld. The ramifications of that could prove fatal to Liverpool’s hope of progressing from their group, or it may not. However, what cannot be in doubt is the fact that his loss is a huge blow to Liverpool. Of course, this is assuming that he was not going to leave for Spain after the World Cup, regardless of what was about to happen in Brazil...

Rickie Lambert is Liverpool's main man

That thought may have been in the mind of Brendan Rodgers when he brought in Rickie Lambert for £4 million at the start of the summer, a purchase that looked like a shrewd acquisition at the time. It could now prove to be a decisive one. Suarez’s silly indiscretion makes Lambert pivotal to their early season hopes. Can he step up? Well, he has managed to make the transition from League One to the Premier League seamless so that bodes well. This is his chance to become a cult hero at Anfield – don’t bet against him. 

FIFA won't tolerate any more antics from Suarez

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, when the bite marks in Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder were still smarting, it had been suggested in some quarters that Suarez should be banned for two years, the maximum punishment available to FIFA. World football's governing body was never going to go to such an extreme - rightly so - and the nine games/four months they dished out in the end was probably about right. Critics of FIFA claim that players like Suarez get special treatment, such is their global marketing appeal for the game, but the severity of this ban went a long way to disproving that. Suarez's tournament is over - it may be all the poorer for that, at least in terms of his quality when actually playing football - but at least FIFA sent out a clear message that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable.

Suarez is now walking a tightrope

Three strikes and you're out, so they say. Well, Suarez may live to fight another day after a third indiscretion, but surely a fourth will signal the end for him. He is now walking a very fine line; another bite will be truly unforgiveable. Indeed, Suarez can expect any further indiscretions to be viewed in a dim light from now on, a situation he has entirely brought on himself. The scrutiny of his every move will be more intense than ever once he finally returns to a playing field, and should he step out of line again, he could well be kicked out of the last chance saloon he now finds himself in.

The apologists must take a long hard look at themselves

Who can possibly stick up for Suarez now? Well, surprisingly, there are many, mostly from his native Uruguay, who see the ban as the result of some kind of English media witch hunt and FIFA vendetta against the striker and his country. It is nothing of the sort. Those apologists must surely now have to change their tune; Suarez has bitten three players on three separate occasions. Once would be an aberration, twice is pushing it, but three times? There is no defence left. As for his club Liverpool, who have done their fair share of closing ranks around Suarez in the past, it remains to be seen how they will react to this latest incident, but there is a strong case for them to change their tune. And with Barcelona reportedly not fazed by taking on a man with such a tainted reputation - and willing to offer one or two quality players in exchange - the club could yet cut their losses and salvage something from the sorry situation.

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