He may be on the verge of signing for Barcelona, but it looks like Luis Suarez won’t be returning to football action anytime soon after FIFA upheld his ban for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup in Brazil.
The world governing body suspended the Uruguayan bad boy for nine international games and ruled him out of any football activity for four months after the incident in late June.
Unless Suarez wins an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Thursday’s ruling means he’s sure to miss the start of the European football season.
An appeal to Swiss-based CAS has yet to be confirmed.
“The FIFA Appeal Committee has decided to reject the appeals lodged by both the Uruguayan player Luis Suarez and the Uruguayan FA, and to confirm the decision rendered by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee on 25 June 2014 in its entirety,” FIFA said in a statement on its website.
“The terms of the decision taken by the FIFA Appeal Committee were communicated to the player and the Uruguayan FA today.”
When Suarez bit Chiellini on June 24 as Uruguay eliminated 2006 world champion Italy, it marked the third time he’d taken a chunk out of an opponent.
The Liverpool striker was banned domestically for 10 games in April 2013 when he bit Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in an English Premier League match, and he was handed a seven-game punishment while with Dutch club Ajax for biting PSV’s Otman Bakkal in November 2010.
Despite his indiscretions — Suarez was also hit with an eight-game ban in December 2011 for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra — the 27-year-old is expected to complete his move to Spain in the coming days.
According to reports, Liverpool wants a transfer fee of £75 million ($128 million) for the reigning Premier League player of the season, who scored 31 goals for the club in 2013-14.
If the sides agree on that figure, it would make Suarez the third most expensive player in football history after Real Madrid duo Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Catalan giant is desperate to overturn its 2013-2014 fortunes, having not won a trophy and watching arch-rival Real Madrid claim the European Champions League title while Atletico Madrid took its La Liga crown.
Barcelona was given a transfer ban by FIFA in April for allegedly breaking rules over the signing of minors, but this has been suspended pending an appeal. According to former England striker Gary Lineker — now a television host with the BBC — Barcelona insisted on Suarez apologizing before any possible transfer.
Suarez duly apologized to Chiellini and the “entire football family.”
Liverpool, meanwhile, second in the Premier League last term, has been busy preparing for Suarez’s probable departure, bringing in England internationals Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana from Southampton and Germany under-21 midfielder Emre Can from Bayer Leverkusen.