Suarez ban upheld, but will he make his debut in El Clasico?
Uruguayan won't be eligible until October, but Real Madrid clash could be rearranged so he can play
Luis Suarez will not pull on a Barcelona shirt until October after he lost his appeal against the four month ban imposed by Fifa after he bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup. The Uruguayan striker had been hoping to see his record ban reduced so he could embark on his new career with Barca, the club he recently moved to from Liverpool.
Not surprisingly Barcelona, who paid £75m for the serial biter, want to see a return on their investment as soon as possible, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS] refused to buckle under pressure and the ban remains.
There was a glimmer of good news, however, for Suarez, as outlined in the CAS statement released to the media: "The CAS Panel found that the sanctions imposed on the player were generally proportionate to the offence committed. It has however considered that the stadium ban and the ban from 'any football-related activity' were excessive given that such measures are not appropriate to sanction the offence committed by the player and would still have an impact on his activity after the end of the suspension."
In short, Suarez can at least train with his new teammates and appear in friendlies, and a statement released by Barcelona intimated that could happen as early as Monday. Announcing that Suarez "will join the first team's training session scheduled for Friday", the club added: "The public presentation of Suarez as a new FC Barcelona player will be held on Monday at the Camp Nou, on occasion of the Joan Gamper Trophy match."
If Suarez does appear against Mexican side Club Leon at the Camp Nou on Monday, it should at least keep the Barcelona bean counters happy with a massive crowd expected. Whether or not Suarez is fit after six weeks off remains to be seen.
The judgement also means that Barcelonca coach Luis Enrique still has to make do without Chewy Luis for the first 11 competitive games of the season. On the plus side when he does return to the fray at the end of October the 27-year-old Suarez will at least be in good shape having trained every day with the Barcelona squad.
It's possible that his first game back will be 'El Clasico' against Real Madrid, currently scheduled for Saturday 25 October – one day before the ban is lifted. But there is speculation in the Spanish press that television will move the game back 24 hours to the Sunday, ensuring millions of Spaniards will tune in to watch arguably the 'baddest' footballer on the planet make his comeback.
Suarez's return to international football will take longer with the CAS decision meaning his nine-game Uruguay ban also remains in force. Uruguay FA president Wilmar Valdez said he was disappointed with the CAS ruling, laying the blame at the door of ignorant Europeans. Describing Suarez's bite – his third in four years – as "a cultural matter", Valdez continued: "The way we live football in South America is different to Europe, for us there are things which are normal and which deserve sanctions, but not such harsh ones."