RIO DE JANEIRO- Uruguay star Luis Suarez exited the World Cup in shame Thursday after being hit with the heaviest suspension in the tournament’s history for biting an Italian opponent.
Suarez, who bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during his team’s Group D win on Tuesday, was slapped with an immediate worldwide four-month ban fined 100,000 Swiss francs ($112,000).
“Such behaviour cannot be tolerated on any football pitch, and in particular not at a FIFA World Cup when the eyes of millions of people are on the stars on the field,” FIFA Disciplinary Committee chief Claudio Sulser said.
Football’s governing body imposed a four-month ban on all football activities, a nine-game international ban and the fine. The punishment took immediate effect, meaning Suarez misses Uruguay’s second round match against Colombia on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro.
It will also hit his club career with Liverpool in England’s Premier League as he cannot play until the end of October.
The nine-match ban is also likely to rule Suarez out of Uruguay’s defence of the Copa America in 2015.
The sanction was the toughest ever handed down for foul play at a World Cup, surpassing the eight-match ban against Italy’s Mauro Tassotti in 1994 for elbowing Spain’s Luis Enrique.
It is the third time Liverpool star Suarez has been banned for biting players following incidents in 2010 in the Dutch league and 2013 in England.
He also received a long ban in 2011 for racially abusing Manchester United’s French international Patrice Evra.
Uruguay football officials, who insisted Suarez had not bitten anyone, said they planned to appeal, describing the punishment as “totally exaggerated.”
The country’s Sports Minister Liliam Kechichian also railed against the verdict. “This disproportionate sanction hurts us,” she said on Twitter.