CURITIBA, Brazil – Luis Suarez faces the prospect of a big financial hit following his alleged biting of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, with existing sponsorship deals potentially being ripped up and future endorsements put in jeopardy.
Already, two of his sponsors — 888poker and Adidas — have hinted that they may tear up their deals with Suarez.
888poker, which only signed up Suarez last month, said it was “reviewing” its relationship with the striker.
“We will not tolerate unsporting behaviour,” it said in a tweet.
888poker announced a global endorsement contract with Suarez after Liverpool’s surprise run toward the title. Though the team ended up coming second in the English Premier League behind Manchester City, it gained many supporters for its attacking flair.
The signing up of Suarez, who is a keen poker enthusiast, was also a sign that Suarez had rehabilitated his relationship following another biting incident with Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic the previous season. He was voted player of the year by his peers in the English game as well as football writers.
A far bigger profile for Suarez comes from Adidas, which is FIFA’s oldest partner, their relationship going back to 1970.
In a statement, the German sportswear giant said it awaits “FIFA’s full investigation into this matter and will respond accordingly.”
In the early hours of Wednesday, FIFA announced it had opened a disciplinary case against the player following Suarez’s ‘s alleged bite into the left shoulder of Chiellini in a crucial group-stage game. Uruguay won the game 1-0 to progress to the second round but Suarez’s participation in that looks in real doubt. Under the guidelines, Suarez could face a ban of up to 24 international matches.
Nigel Currie, director of sports marketing agency Brand Rapport, said the potential cost to Suarez could “potentially run into millions” and doesn’t just account for his current deals.
“It’s pretty damaging for him, it’s not as if he hasn’t had previous,” said Currie, noting not only two previous biting incidents, but also a race row involving Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, and his handball in the last World Cup in South Africa that prevented a clear Ghana goal and progress to the semifinal.
“He could end up missing out on a chance of a lifetime of being a hero at the World Cup,” Currie said. “Although he’s a great player, there are others around and if there’s a big risk they (the sponsors) will go for a safer option. This is the real shop window, the real global opportunity to become one of the top global superstars.”