Luis Suarez is in danger of losing one of his lucrative personal sponsorship deals after he was accused of biting defender Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay's crucial win over Italy at the 2014 World Cup on Tuesday.
888 Poker released a statement via Twitter on Wednesday claiming they were unable to endorse the Liverpool star if he committed actions like the one he appeared to commit in the match in Natal.
888 ready to act
"Following the allegations made against Luis Suárez in regards to his behaviour during Uruguay’s World Cup match against Italy, 888poker is seriously reviewing its relationship with the player as we will not tolerate any unsporting behaviour," read the Tweet.
Suarez only signed with the online poker company last month and they claimed the prospect of having the Liverpool and Premier League top scorer, Player of the Season and football writers' player of the season was integral in having him as a brand ambassador. Replays of the incident and photographs of Chiellini's shoulder suggest that the Uruguayan did bite him, but he dismissed this after the match, claiming the Juventus defender's shoulder had merely collided with him.
Sign of things to come
888 Poker's response could be the first of a number of sponsors trying to distance themselves from the controversial striker, and one wonders whether it will be too long before Liverpool start seeing something similar.
The Premier League is a globally viewed competition and the Anfield club were able to survive the suspensions he received for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra and another biting incident, this one involving Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, but the World Cup is another level.
It is the most watched sports event on the planet and Suarez's bite was a global scandal for an evening after the game. It could get even more high profile on Wednesday evening, however, as FIFA's disciplinary committee will sit to discuss the incident and he could be handed a lengthy ban.
Endorsements such as the 888 Poker kind were evidence that the former Ajax striker (where he was also banned for biting) had successfully secured an image change as that of a reformed character, after keeping his nose clean for a season - scoring lots of goals seemed to help too.
Should he get a suspension from FIFA - the rules suggest anything up to two years and perhaps even a ban from domestic football - Liverpool would be risking a great deal to stand by him through another scandal and his image could become so toxic that it could spread to their own commercial interests.
End of the road
As painful as it would be for Kopites to see one of the best players they have seen at the club in years leave, it looks as though this could be the best situation for everyone involved. There has been plenty of speculation surrounding his future and the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid have been credited with an interest in signing him this summer.
There a plenty of positives that can be had from the sale of Suarez - see five of them here - and Liverpool can no longer justify hanging on to a player that is damaging the image of the club, however many goals he scores. If he cannot behave himself then they are better off cashing in now rather than waiting for the next disaster to clean up.
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