FIFA, players’ union agree Suarez needs treatment

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Uruguay striker Luis Suarez is seen at the Serhs Hotel in Natal, Brazil, Thursday, June 26, 2014. FIFA banned Suarez from all football activities for four months on Thursday for biting an opponent at the World Cup, a punishment that rules him out of the rest of the tournament. (AP Photo/Vlademir Alexandre)

Uruguay striker Luis Suarez is seen at the Serhs Hotel in Natal, Brazil, Thursday, June 26, 2014. FIFA banned Suarez from all football activities for four months on Thursday for biting an opponent at the World Cup, a punishment that rules him out of the rest of the tournament. (AP Photo/Vlademir Alexandre)

Fans of Uruguay’s national soccer team await the arrival of Uruguay player Luis Suarez at Carrasco International Airport in the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay, Thursday, June 26, 2014. The Uruguay forward, widely regarded as one of the best players in the world, was banned by FIFA from all football for four months on Thursday for biting an Italian opponent in an incident that marred the team’s victory and progression to the second round. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)

A child shows his support for Uruguay player Luis Suarez, by wearing toy plastic vampire teeth, as he awaits the arrival of Suarez at Carrasco International Airport in the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay, Thursday, June 26, 2014. The Uruguay forward, widely regarded as one of the best players in the world, was banned by FIFA from all football for four months on Thursday for biting an Italian opponent in an incident that marred the team’s victory and progression to the second round. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)

El italiano Giorgio Chiellini muestra el hombro donde dice que el uruguayo Luis Suárez lo mordió durante el encuentro entre Italia y Uruguay en la Copa del Mundo en Natal, Brasil, el 24 de junio de 2014. Chiellini opinó que la sanción que la FIFA le aplicó a Suárez es demasiado severa. (AP Foto/Hassan Ammar)

Fans of Uruguay’s national soccer team await the arrival of Uruguay player Luis Suarez at Carrasco International Airport in the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay, Thursday, June 26, 2014. The Uruguay forward, widely regarded as one of the best players in the world, was banned by FIFA from all football for four months on Thursday for biting an Italian opponent in an incident that marred the team’s victory and progression to the second round. (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico)

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The players’ union and football’s governing body agree on one thing in the wake of the heavy ban imposed on Luis Suarez for his third biting incident: the Uruguay and Liverpool striker needs help.

Suarez returned to Montevideo early Friday, arriving too late to see the hundreds of Uruguay fans who had gathered the previous night to give him a hero’s welcome despite his World Cup banishment.

In Rio de Janeiro, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said a third biting incident in Suarez’s career was “unacceptable.”

“I think he should find a way to stop doing it — he should go through a treatment,” Valcke told reporters at Maracana Stadium, where Uruguay plays Colombia in a Round-of-16 match on Saturday.

The players’ union, FIFPro, came to the same conclusion but from a more sympathetic approach.

FIFPro said the FIFA disciplinary panel’s ban for Suarez of nine Uruguay matches and four months from all football “infringes his right to work” and doesn’t offer him the treatment he needs.

“Luis Suarez should receive all the support he needs to deal with any off-field issues he may be experiencing at this time,” the union said, adding that “treatment must be a part of any sanction.”

Neither Valcke nor FIFPro specified if the treatment should include anger management therapy or counselling.

From Italy, Suarez also received support from his latest victim, Giorgio Chiellini, who described the sanction as excessive.

Suarez bit Chiellini’s left shoulder during Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy at Natal on Tuesday. The incident went unpunished by the referee but was broadcast around the world on TV.

It was the third time Suarez has bitten an opponent, after incidents in the Dutch and English leagues. He was banned for seven and 10 matches, respectively.

“If it starts to be more than once it is not any more an (isolated) incident, so that is why also the sanction has to be exemplary,” said Valcke. “I applaud the decision.”

“What happened with Suarez was beyond the game, was something which is far beyond the fair play and the attitude you can have when you play at the World Cup,” the French official said.

Still, FIFPro said the sanctions should be reduced, calling on FIFA’s appeals panel to “focus especially on the accumulation of sanctions.”

“The fact that Suarez is prohibited from working for a long period must be addressed as it directly infringes his right to work,” the Netherlands-based union said in a statement.

FIFPro suggested that a legal review could “re-establish the facts in a calm and considered setting.”

The Uruguay football federation is preparing an appeal to FIFA, which Suarez’s club Liverpool is not involved in.

If FIFA dismisses Suarez’s appeal, a further legal challenge is allowed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

CAS could freeze the sanctions upon request, allowing Suarez to resume training and playing for Liverpool during the appeal process.

Chiellini, a veteran Italy and Juventus defender, wrote in a blog for website Sportlobster such a long ban could be “really alienating” for a player.

“At the moment, my only thought is for Luis and his family, because they will face a very difficult period,” Chiellini said.

Associated Press

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