Luis Suarez will train with his Barcelona teammates on Friday after his ban for biting an opponent at the World Cup was softened but not shortened.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Thursday that the Uruguay forward, who recently left Liverpool for Barcelona, deserves his four-month ban from playing official matches for both his club and his country.
CAS did, however, clear Suarez to start training with his club, and Barcelona said he will join practice for the upcoming season on Friday, and have his formal introduction to the media and fans on Tuesday. He could play in a club friendly on Monday.
Suarez bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder during Uruguay’s 1-0 win at the World Cup on June 24. He denied it at first, but later admitted it and apologized within days.
“The sanctions imposed on the player were generally proportionate to the offense committed,” the court said in a statement.
Suarez can next play a competitive match on Oct. 25, and it should be worth watching. Barcelona has an away match against Real Madrid that weekend, the first clasico of the Spanish league season.
Suarez remains banned for Uruguay’s next eight competitive matches and will miss next year’s Copa America and some World Cup qualifying matches.
Still, the court confirmed he is allowed to play non-competition friendly matches under the terms of FIFA’s disciplinary rules.
On Monday, Suarez could make his Barcelona debut against Mexican club Leon at Camp Nou for the Joan Gamper Trophy, a traditional season-opening match named for the Catalan club’s founder, used to present its team for the new season.
Uruguay has friendlies scheduled for Sept. 5 in Japan and Sept. 9 in South Korea. Suarez is eligible to play in those matches.
However, Thursday’s judgment forces Suarez to miss eight Spanish league matches and three of Barcelona’s six Champions League group matches.
The court described the ban imposed by FIFA on Suarez from taking part in any football activity as “excessive.”
“However, the 4-month suspension will apply to official matches only and no longer to other football-related activities (such as training, promotional activities and administrative matters),” the court said.
Banning Suarez from training meant the ban “would still have an impact on his activity after the end of the suspension,” the panel ruled.
Suarez, who left Liverpool for Barcelona after the World Cup, appeared at the court’s fast-track hearing last Friday in an effort to reduce his ban.
FIFA had also fined him 100,000 Swiss francs ($112,000).
CAS will publish its reasons for the verdict in the coming weeks.
Suarez, who was supported in his appeal by Barcelona and the Uruguay football federation, could challenge the ruling at the Swiss Federal Tribunal. That is a much longer process, and the court only intervenes if legal process was abused.
After being sent home from the World Cup before Uruguay’s second-round loss to Colombia, Suarez still has the majority of his nine-match competitive internationals ban still to serve.
Suarez has bitten opponents on other occasions as well, when playing for Ajax in 2010 and Liverpool last year.
“I deeply regret what occurred,” Suarez wrote in a Twitter message shortly after his ban at the World Cup was announced. “(The) truth is that my colleague Giorgio Chiellini suffered the physical result of a bite in the collision he suffered with me.”