RIO DE JANEIRO — Uruguay’s Luis Suarez was hit with the biggest ban imposed at a World Cup on Thursday as FIFA threw the book at one of soccer’s most talented but controversial players for biting an opponent.
The sport’s governing body suspended Suarez from all football-related activity for four months and ruled he could not play in Uruguay’s next nine competitive games, immediately ending his involvement in the World Cup in Brazil.
The ban means the striker is unlikely to appear in non-friendly matches for his country until 2016.
“Such behavior 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,” Claudio Sulser, chairman of FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee, said.
The four-month ban means Suarez will have to sit out the first two months of the next English season and he will miss Liverpool’s opening Premier League and Champions League matches.
The 27-year-old striker left his Uruguay teammates shortly after FIFA’s announcement, depriving them of their most outstanding player two days before a do-or-die match against Colombia in the second round of the World Cup.
FIFA also fined Suarez 100,000 Swiss francs ($111,000) after 10 hours of deliberations by its Disciplinary Committee.
Uruguay’s president summed up the indignation in the South American country where Suarez is considered a hero, a stark contrast to his image as a hothead for many in Europe where he has been involved in two previous biting incidents.
“We didn’t choose him to be a philosopher, or a mechanic, or to have good manners — he’s a great player,” said President Jose Mujica. “I didn’t see him bite anyone.”
The Uruguayan FA will appeal against the ruling, but Suarez cannot play even if a challenge is lodged. The imposition of the fine could be delayed pending the appeal.
Suarez is one of the most gifted players in world football, scoring 31 league goals in 33 games for Liverpool last season.
He returned from a month on the sidelines with an injury to score twice in Uruguay’s 2-1 win over England last week, transforming the team’s World Cup which began with a shock defeat by Costa Rica in a game Suarez missed through injury.
But he is also one of the game’s most troubled players. As well as two previous bans for biting, Suarez was accused of racially abusing a player in England in 2011.
Former Brazil striker Ronaldo had no sympathy.
“Football must set an example and show examples of good players,” he told reporters. “People who are out of line must be punished.
“If my little children bite me, they are sent to the dark room with the big bad wolf. This is football’s equivalent.”
Suarez cannot even train or attend matches with Liverpool until late October, a big blow to their domestic and European ambitions.