Luis Suárez has apologised to Giorgio Chiellini “and the entire football family” for biting the Italy defender, an offence that has earned the Uruguayan a four-month ban from football, and effectively admitted he lied to Fifa when contesting the charge handed down by the game’s governing body.
In a move instigated without Liverpool’s knowledge and that will inevitably be considered as a public relations ploy from the striker’s camp before a mooted transfer to Barcelona, Suárez tweeted his apology on Monday from his home outside Montevideo. The forward, twice previously sanctioned for biting an opponent on the field of play, vowed there would “never again be another incident like this” and expressed his regret at what had occurred in Uruguay’s critical 1-0 Group D victory in Natal.
“After several days of being home with my family, I have had the opportunity to regain my calm and reflect about the reality of what occurred during the Italy-Uruguay match on 24 June 2014,” he wrote. “Independent from the fallout and the contradicting declarations that have surfaced during these past days, all of which have been without the intention of interfering with the good performance of my national team, the truth is that my colleague Giorgio Chiellini suffered the physical result of a bite in the collision he suffered with me. For this I deeply regret what occurred. I apologise to Giorgio Chiellini and the entire football family. I vow to the public that there will never again be another incident like this.”
The Juventus defender, who had previously expressed surprise at the length of the ban imposed on the striker, tweeted back to his opponent: “It’s forgotten. I hope Fifa will reduce your suspension.”
Suárez’s statement was dated 30 June and was published just five days after he had submitted in his defence a very different version of the clash with Chiellini to Fifa, having consulted with his lawyer Alejandro Balbi, as the matter was considered by the body’s seven-strong disciplinary committee. “In no way it happened how you have described, as a bite or intent to bite,” the forward had written in Spanish. “After the impact I lost my balance, making my body unstable and falling on top of my opponent.
“At that moment I hit my face against the player, leaving a small bruise on my cheek and a strong pain in my teeth.” Fifa duly ruled the bite was “deliberate, intentional and without provocation” and banned the player for nine competitive Uruguay matches and four months from “all football-related activities”. He was also fined £66,000.
The severity of the ban was partly due to this being his third such offence, following on from other incidents with Ajax and Liverpool in the past four years, but also because the striker had shown no remorse while previous bans had clearly failed to change his behaviour. The Uruguayan Football Association is in the process of preparing an appeal over the length of the current suspension and it remains to be seen whether Suárez’s public apology will now serve to reduce the sanction.
Perhaps more pertinently, there had been strong suggestions in Spain that Barcelona would pursue the signing of Suárez from Liverpool only if he had issued a formal apology and vowed there would be no repeat of such behaviour in future. Barça hope to secure the player this summer, with the Chile forward Alexis Sánchez potentially moving to Anfield as an eye-catching makeweight, and have indicated they have the funds to compete at such a level in the transfer market.
Liverpool, who are considering their own response to Fifa’s punishment of their player, do not feel under any particular pressure to sell a striker who scored 31 Premier League goals last season and it would require a deal that triggers the release clause in the player’s contract, believed to be set at close to £80m, for them to respond. However, they are increasingly braced for the player seeking a move away from Anfield, with the Camp Nou understood to be his preferred destination.