As FIFA begins Suárez investigation, two-year ban the maximum punishment at its disposal

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A FIFA spokesperson has confirmed that the world soccer governing body is gathering information in the wake of Luis Suárez’s latest biting incident, but according to the governing body’s disciplinary code, the maximum punishment at the organization’s disposal is two years. To this point, no punishment for behavior during a World Cup has approached that sanction.

Per reporting from The Telegraph, the longest suspension ever handed down during the finals is eight games – the sanction Italy’s Mauro Tassotti received after breaking Spain’s Luis Enrique’s nose in 1994. Brazilian defender Leonardo was suspended for four-games for an elbow that fractured U.S. midfielder’s Tab Ramos’s skull in the same tournament, while Zinedine Zidane was given a three-match ban for head butting Italian defender Marco Matterazzi in 2006.

The obvious difference here: Suárez is a repeat offender. Though his previous episodes have been at club-level, those incidents will likely inform how FIFA handles today’s behavior. Coming off last year’s 10-game ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, Suárez’s latest action might take FIFA into uncharted territory.

[ MORE: Suárez bites Chiellini | PredictableHow long to ban ]

From The Telegraph:

A Fifa spokesperson said: “We are awaiting the official match reports and will gather all the necessary elements in order to evaluate the matter.”

Fifa’s disciplinary code sets a maximum ban of 24 matches or two years, but the longest ban in World Cup history was eight games for Italy’s Mauro Tassotti for breaking Spain’s Luis Enrique’s nose in 1994 with an elbow …

Fifa’s disciplinary code allows action to be taken retrospectively via video evidence even if the incident has been seen by the referee.

Article 77 of Fifa’s disciplinary code states the disciplinary committee is responsible for “sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials’ attention” and “rectifying obvious errors in the referee’s disciplinary decisions”.

That brings us back to the question Joseph Prince-Wright tried to answer earlier today: How long should Suárez be banned? England set a standard with 10 (lower stakes) games. The maximum is 24 months. Should the ban be based on games played (with 24 being the maximum)? Or have we reached the point where Suárez needs to take a set period of time off?

And to what end? If, as we discussed later today, this problem may not be correctable, the whole goal of the punishment needs to be reassessed. Providing a deterrent for Suárez may be irrelevant. Punishment may be more about justice, as well as deterring other, less impulse-driven players from doing the same.

The deeper we dig, the more complicated the Suárez picture becomes, but with Uruguay set to play against on Saturday, we should have an answer soon. For the second straight tournament, the Uruguayan star will likely serve a suspension in the knockout round.

Eibar routs Betis 5-0 to snap 8-game winless streak in Spain

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MADRID (AP) Eibar routed 10-man Real Betis 5-0 in the Spanish league on Monday, ending an eight-match winless streak in all competitions.

Eibar hadn’t won since Sept. 15. It had lost six of its eight matches since then.

[ MORE: Brighton, Stoke finish level after Izquierdo’s second-half finish ]

The hosts got on the board with an own goal by Betis defender Jordi Amat just six minutes in, and midfielder Gonzalo Escalante scored with a header near halftime.

Striker Charles Dias scored twice in the second half, and Sergi Enrich closed the scoring in front of less than 5,000 fans at Ipurua Stadium.

“We deserved a victory like this to help us regain our confidence,” Enrich said.

Betis played with 10 men from the 55th as Aissa Mandi was red-carded for the foul that prompted a penalty kick converted by Dias.

“It was difficult to recover after we went a man down and they scored the third goal,” Betis midfielder Joaquin Sanchez said.

Eibar remained 17th in the 20-team standings, just outside the relegation zone.

Betis, winless in three matches, dropped to ninth place.

Barcelona leads by four points over second-place Valencia.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Pogba believes Man United can win Premier League if squad stays fit

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There’s no doubt that on paper Manchester United has all the workings of a Premier League contender, and Paul Pogba certainly agrees.

[ MORE: Brighton, Stoke settle for draw in back-and-forth affair ]

The influential midfielder made his return to the Red Devils lineup this weekend in United’s 4-1 beatdown of Newcastle, along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo.

With Jose Mourinho’s squad finally getting healthy, Pogba believes that the sky is the limit for his side as they look to chase down league leaders and cross-town rivals Manchester City.

“To win the league we need all our players,” Pogba told MUTV. “When you have one injured here, one injured there, it doesn’t help. It’s always better to have a full team.

“Zlatan’s back and Marcos after a long injury. It was hard for them but they kept believing and worked hard to come back. We need them to win the league and we’re really glad they’re here.”

Pogba’s presence was certainly missed in his absence, and he wasted no time in making an impact upon his return, scoring a goal and adding an assist against the Magpies.

The French international also spoke about his struggles last season with several minor injuries, but he’s hoping to remain in his United side for the rest of the 2017/18 campaign.

“Most of last season I had injuries but small ones. You just have to recover well because the Premier League is different to Italy — it’s more intense and you just have to think about recovery, then you have more games. Otherwise, I just feel good, just to come back.

“I’ve trained very hard to come back fit. The season is really long so we have to be fit — not only me but all the players. To come back, to play again, to see Old Trafford, to see the fans again, to score at Old Trafford on my comeback, I feel blessed. But we had to win — that was the most important thing.”

Red Bulls freestyler shows off dribbling skills… on a treadmill (Video)

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Players from around the world display their skills on social media on a regular basis, but they’re usually on a soccer field or blacktop when they do so.

[ MORE: Almiron wins MLS Newcomer of the Year, beats out Nikolic, Martinez ]

This New York Red Bulls freestyler had a different interpretation of how he’d show off his ball control on Monday.

DJ Diveny (@djdiveny on Twitter) posted this video — below — across his social media platforms today dribbling a soccer ball on a treadmill, while his colleagues appear to introduce cones at random points as obstacles.

In addition to his talents as a freestyler, Diveny is also a youth coach with Student Athlete Coaching & Consulting, based out of New Jersey.

Again… he’s on a treadmill while doing this. Pretty cool stuff.

Watch below.

Villa: Seeing Pirlo retire showed me that I have to train harder

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New York City FC has quickly become one of Major League Soccer’s most exciting clubs in three short seasons, and a lot of its success can be attributed to be David Villa.

[ MORE: Miguel Almiron named MLS Newcomer of the Year ]

The Spanish international has been with the club since completing a move to MLS in 2014, and has easily been NYCFC’s most important signing since the team’s inception.

Despite boasting an impressive 22 goals in 2017 for Patrick Vieira’s side, Villa knows that his days in MLS are starting to count down after one of the legends of the international game recently announced his retirement.

“[Seeing Andrea Pirlo retire showed me] that I have to train harder every day if I want to continue extending my career. Someday I will leave, as will everyone, it’s a fact of life. But I’m going to fight to make it as late as possible,” Villa told Marca.

Villa, 35, received a one-year extension to his contract in 2017, leaving his future with NYCFC up in the air beyond next season.

Additionally, the forward says that he constantly receives positive feedback about MLS and he knows that there is a lot of interest from players outside the United States in the developing league.

“Really, quite a few [have reached out],” he said. “The MLS is growing a lot and is having more and more global impact. Many have called me and are interested in what’s going on here.”