Contractual Implications of the Luis Suarez Biting Incident
4 July 2014 by Lawrence Adams
The World Cup 2014 is in full swing. The atmosphere in Brazil is undoubtedly electric, despite the England national team’s failure to progress past the group stages. The focus last week was more on one player than on any team; Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan striker was filmed apparently sinking his teeth into the shoulder of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during the Italy v Uruguay match, the final of the group games.
His actions have had far-reaching consequences, both on and off the pitch. FIFA announced a record four month ban with a 9-match international ban and a £65,000, the combined effect saw Suarez ruled out of the World Cup for Uruguay’s crucial next game against Columbia, which they subsequently lost. One of Suarez key sponsors, 888poker has also dropped him as a worldwide ambassador and he faces the possibility that other lucrative contracts with Adidas and Beats might also be dropped.
From an employment law perspective though, the most worrying aspect of the entire incident for Suarez will be the effect it has on his current employment situation with Liverpool. Liverpool manager Brandon Rogers has already taken the step of confirming that Suarez will not be side-lined within the squad following the incident. The board of directors could chose to take a different approach though.
Liverpool directors could argue that his actions amount to gross misconduct, putting him in breach of his £200,000 per week contract. As the incident happened during an international match and not during a club game, the question would be “has it bought the business into disrepute?” If so, Liverpool would need to follow the correct procedure to dismiss the striker.
It currently looks unlikely that Liverpool would want to end his contract. Suarez has a history for violent conduct which began when he head-butted a referee while playing for Uruguayan side Nacionale . More recently, he was found guilty of biting whilst playing for Ajax in 2010 and for Liverpool last year.
If you need advice on dismissal either for gross misconduct or for any other reason, contact Beth Baird on 01206 835 243 or [email protected].