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Banned for World Cup bite, soccer star Suarez heads to Barcelona

Luis Suarez (left) after his famous World Cup bite. Photograph by Daniel Garcia — AFP/Getty Images

The Liverpool Football Club announced on Friday that Luis Suarez, one of its players and the man responsible for sinking his teeth into Italy’s Girgio Chiellini during a World Cup match, will head to Barcelona.

The Uruguayan signed a five-year deal with the Spanish team with a fee of approximately $128 million.

A day earlier, Suarez appealed his four-month ban from soccer for his bite, along with a suspension for nine matches with Uruguay. FIFA, the world soccer body, denied the appeal.

“It is with a heavy heart that I leave Liverpool for a new life and new challenges in Spain,” Suarez said in a statement. “Both me and my family have fallen in love with this club and with the city.”

“He’ll be on a very short leash,” said Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert for the California advertising firm Baker Street. “One more bite and he can kiss his brand goodbye.”

Dorfman added that the “change in scenery is the best thing that can happen” to Suarez, although he warned that the switch “won’t change his past transgressions,” which include two other biting incidents.

Suarez may also see his brand follow a common theme, if he behaves himself in the coming years, according to Dorfman. “We love to put our heroes on pedestals, see them fall, then watch them rise up again. There’s nothing more compelling – or marketable – than a great redemption story,” he added.

Because of the bite, Suarez lost sponsor 888poker. Adidas, meanwhile, decided to continue its endorsement of the soccer star.