FIFA has rejected Luis Suarez's appeal against his lengthy ban for biting an opponent in a World Cup match.
Football's international governing body on Thursday said its appeals committee rejected the entire appeal by Suarez and the Uruguay football federation. Suarez can still appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The Uruguay international and Liverpool star was banned for nine international matches and four months from all football, and fined 100,000 Swiss francs ($112,000 U.S.) for biting the shoulder of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during a 1-0 win for his side in their group-stage game.
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A statement from FIFA read: "The FIFA Appeal Committee has decided to reject the appeals lodged by both the Uruguayan player Luis Suárez and the Uruguayan FA, and to confirm the decision rendered by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee on 25 June 2014 in its entirety.
"The terms of the decision taken by the FIFA Appeal Committee were communicated to the player and the Uruguayan FA [on Thursday].
"The relevant decision is not yet final and binding, i.e. an appeal to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) is still possible (cf. art. 67 par. 1 of the FIFA Statutes) by the player and/or the Uruguayan FA, subject to certain conditions."
Although Suarez apologised for his actions, the president of the Uruguayan Football Association, Wilmar Valdez, defended the player.
"I have seen more aggressive incidents recently," he said. "It is a severe punishment. I don't know exactly which arguments they used, but it is a tough punishment for Suarez."
It is the third time Suarez has been banned for biting an opponent after similar incidents at both Ajax in the Dutch league and Liverpool in the English Premier League.
The incident was missed by match officials, and FIFA's disciplinary committee studied video evidence before charging the Uruguay forward.
The ruling to uphold the sanctions was expected, as FIFA's appeals panel seldom changes disciplinary verdicts.
Suarez can now ask the CAS to freeze his sanctions during his appeal process. If granted, Suarez would be allowed to train and play with his club until a final verdict is reached, likely in several months.
Should he transfer, Suarez would miss 18 fixtures at Barcelona.
The potential games he would miss if he were a Barcelona player include five friendlies on the team managed now by Luis Enrique from July 19-Aug. 18 (vs. Recreativo, Nice, Napoli, Helsinki and Mexican League side Leon) and 13 official matches with three Champions League dates, including one in the round of 16; one Copa del Rey fixture and nine La Liga matches (season start is Aug. 24). Suarez could miss one fewer encounter because the ninth La Liga date is Oct. 26, the exact date he completes his four-month suspension. His availability is contingent on FIFA's clarification as to whether he can return that day.
If he remains with Liverpool, Suarez would miss 18 matches as well, including the first nine Premier League dates beginning on Aug. 16 vs. Southampton at Anfield.
On the Liverpool bench, he would miss five preseason friendlies the Reds have set. He would also miss the first three fixtures of the Champions League group stage and one Capital One Cup match but could rejoin in time for encounters on the week of Oct. 27, depending upon the Capital One Cup match date. Otherwise, he would rejoin Liverpool on Nov. 1 vs. Newcastle United, thus missing a total of 19 fixtures.
Barcelona lawyer Juan Jose Pinto is in contact with Uruguay lawyer Alejandro Balbi, who is defending Suarez and could take the case to the CAS, according to Mundo Deportivo.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.