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Jun 25, 2014

Luis Suarez being victimised - lawyer

Liverpool chiefs are reportedly set to meet to discuss how to deal with Luis Suarez after the Uruguayan appeared to bite Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini.

The lawyer of Luis Suarez feels his client is the victim of a European campaign that wants to see FIFA come down hard on the striker for his alleged bite on Giorgio Chiellini.

Suarez, 27, appeared to bite the defender during Uruguay's 1-0 World Cup Group D victory over Italy in Natal on Tuesday.

FIFA has since announced it is investigating the incident and had asked for evidence, which can include video recordings, to be presented by 5 p.m. local time on Wednesday.

Uruguayan officials were in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday evening to present their side of the case and expected a resolution to be made late Wednesday or Thursday. A decision must be published before Saturday, when Uruguay play Colombia in a round-of-16 match at the Maracana.

It is expected that the Liverpool striker, who has twice been banned for biting an opponent before, will at least be suspended for the rest of the competition, while he faces a maximum 24-game or two-year ban if found guilty.

Alejandro Balbi, however, believes that Suarez did little wrong, adding that such incidents should be left on the field and forgotten about after the game.

Suarez helped Uruguay advance to the round of 16 at the expense of European powerhouses Italy and England, and Balbi blamed them for leading a "manhunt" against Suarez.

Balbi, who is also a member of the Uruguayan Football Association board, is quoted as saying by Reuters: "I don't think it is anything new, the issue with Suarez has already been seen in England and yesterday the Italians did the same thing. And they are the teams that were eliminated by Uruguay, in which Suarez played a major part.

"And then the other factors play in too, Luis' opponents, against Uruguay in the World Cup, so in that sense we think because of the past, for everyone it's that there is a fair case and that FIFA acts the same in all cases," he said.

Uruguay federation boss Wilmar Valdez told Reuters that Suarez has experienced such accusations before while playing in England, where the daily media scrutiny can be intense.

"We know what Luis has gone through in that country on the one hand he has been really well received in Liverpool, where they love him, adore him, but in the rest of the country that's not the case and we know what happens to him.

"In any case, Luis is a tough guy with a really strong personality, that has helped him get out of some really tough situations, a football player who was able to be operated on 20 days before the World Cup, recuperate and then return to the field truly shows the great player and person that he is."

Valdez also said that the proof against Suarez was not enough to warrant punishment.

"No, really, if FIFA act the way that it should, being objective, according to the proof that there is, he really should not be sanctioned," he said.

Suarez has been suspended twice previously in his career for biting, but this is the first such incident with the national team, which falls under FIFA's jurisdiction rather than a domestic league.

"There is a possibility that they ban him, because there are precedents, but we're convinced that it was an absolutely casual play, because if Chiellini can show a scratch on one shoulder, Suarez can show a bruised and almost shut eye," Balbi added.

"If every player starts showing the injuries he suffers and they open inquiries for them everything will be way too complicated in the future. We're going to use all the arguments possible so that Luis gets out in the best possible way."

FIFA head of media Delia Fischer said earlier in the day that the disciplinary committee's investigation into Suarez was "still at the early stages'' and that the governing body could not give guidelines to the independent panel on any sanctions.

She told a news conference in Rio de Janeiro: "We are still at early stages and the player has a right to be heard. We cannot speak about what could potentially happen, this is in the hands of the disciplinary committee.

"The disciplinary committee under the chairmanship of Claudio Sulser is independent and it is up to them to apply the disciplinary code. Only then are they in a position to refer to the relevant articles of the code.

"We have seen a lot of rumours so let the disciplinary committee do their duty and wait until they have done that. The body deciding the sanction decides the scope and duration of it. We will communicate as soon as we have an update.''

Meanwhile, Suarez faces the prospect of losing a sponsorship deal with betting company 888 following the accusations of the bite.

The Liverpool striker has released a number of online video diaries detailing his experiences in the World Cup since the company began sponsoring him in May.

But with FIFA preparing an investigation into Suarez and the possibility of a long ban if he is found guilty, 888 is considering its position.

Fellow sponsor adidas is also reviewing its deal with Suarez, telling ESPN FC reporter Darren Rovell: "adidas is aware of the issue involving Luis Suarez. We await FIFA's full investigation into this matter and will respond accordingly."

Liverpool are likely to wait for FIFA's investigation to take its course before deciding how to proceed themselves.

While the 27-year-old has faced widespread condemnation over the allegations against him, he has been given support by Liverpool-born Queens Park Rangers midfielder Joey Barton.

Elsewhere, Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor has told BBC Radio 5 Live that the latest biting incident has given Liverpool a "big problem."

"He's their finest and most valuable player," he said. "There's already been talk of the richest clubs in the world wanting him. 

"He does have a big value. I would imagine Brendan Rodgers would want to keep him. It's something that he and his current club are going to have to deal with and can't ignore.

"They've circled the wagons around him before and I would expect them to do the same. I've not known FIFA to impose a domestic ban as well as an international ban unless it was related to an infringement for drugs. They do have that power."

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