When Luis Suarez decided to take a bite out of Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup last week, everyone knew that he would be facing serious consequences in the world of soccer. But what’s quickly becoming apparent is that his rash actions might have a serious effect on his off-field activities as well.
Online poker site 888poker has officially ended their relationship with the Uruguayan striker, citing his actions on the field as their motivation. The news comes days after the company said they would be reviewing their relationship with Suarez.
“888poker signed Luis Suarez following a fantastic season for which his achievements were widely recognized,” the company said in a statement. “Regrettably, following his actions during Uruguay’s World Cup match against Italy on Tuesday, 888poker has decided to terminate its relationship with Luis Suarez with immediate effect.”
Suarez had been serving as a worldwide ambassador since joining 888poker. However, the relationship was a short one: the signing took place in May, and lasted only about six weeks in total. Suarez had been expected to participate in events for the company, and was reportedly filing video diaries during the World Cup before the biting incident took place.
For Suarez, the loss of a partnership with 888poker is likely nothing compared to the on-the-field repercussions of his actions. This was the third biting incident for Suarez sine 2011, when he first bit an opponent while playing with Dutch club Ajax. In 2013, while playing for current club Liverpool, Suarez bit Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. Those two incidents earned him seven and ten game suspensions respectively.
That history left FIFA with little choice but to punish Suarez more harshly for this third incident, particularly with it coming during the World Cup. On Thursday, word came down that Suarez would face a nine-game ban from international play: more than enough to keep Suarez out of the rest of the World Cup, and likely ruling him out for Uruguay’s defense of the Copa America championship next year.
In addition, Suarez was also banned from all soccer-related activities for the next four months. That’s going to cost him at least nine games at the start of Liverpool’s Premier League season, as well as another three games in their Champions League campaign. Uruguay has called the punishment excessive, while Liverpool is said to be looking into options to challenge the ban.
The 888poker decision could also be a signal that other sponsors may abandon Suarez after his latest violent incident on the field. Sportswear firm Adidas has not many any firm plans as to their future with Suarez, but say they support FIFA’s disciplinary action against the player.
“We have no plan to use Suarez for any additional marketing activities during the 2014 FIFA World Cup,” the company said in a statement.
While Adidas says they’ll review their relationship with Suarez, some experts say that it is unlikely they’ll dump Suarez altogether.
“Football thrives on controversy, it lives and breathes it and actively courts it,” said Tim Crow of brand consultancy firm Synergy. “Suarez is one of the top footballers in the world. If Adidas withdrew its sponsorship, one of its competitors would pick it up.”