RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The international players' union has questioned the severity and focus of FIFA's punishment of Luis Suarez for biting an opponent at the World Cup, saying it "infringes his right to work" and doesn't offer him the treatment he needs.
FIFPro said Friday that "rehabilitation and serious treatment ... must be a part of any sanction" for the Uruguay and Liverpool forward.
"Luis Suarez deserves all the support he needs including legal support in the appeal case in order to achieve a reduction of the sanctions," FIFPro said in a statement.
The player also must have "support he needs to deal with any off-field issues he may be experiencing at this time," the union said.
Suarez bit the left shoulder of defender Giorgio Chiellini on Tuesday in Natal during Uruguay's 1-0 win over Italy, an incident that went unpunished by the referee but was witnessed by fans around the world on TV. It was the third time he has bitten an opponent, after incidents in the Dutch and English leagues.
Suarez has returned to Montevideo after FIFA banished him on Thursday with a nine-match suspension from Uruguay's competitive matches, a four-month ban from all football and a fine of 100,000 Swiss francs ($112,000).
The Uruguay football federation is preparing an appeal to FIFA, which Liverpool is not involved in.
FIFPro said the FIFA appeals committee must "focus especially on the accumulation of sanctions."
"The fact that Suarez is prohibited from working for a long period must be addressed as it directly infringes his right to work," the Netherlands-based union said. "Also the fact that Liverpool FC is affected needs to be an important issue."
FIFPro says it reviewed the full judgment of FIFA's disciplinary panel, and suggested that an appeal can "re-establish the facts in a calm and considered setting."
If FIFA dismisses Suarez's appeal, a further legal challenge is allowed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.
It could freeze the sanctions upon request, allowing Suarez to resume training and playing for Liverpool during the appeal process.