Luis Suarez will practice with his Barcelona teammates on Friday after his ban for biting an opponent at the 2014 FIFA 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 would begin preparing for the upcoming season starting Friday.
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 game on Oct. 25, and it should be worth watching. Barcelona has an away game against Real Madrid that weekend, the first “clasico” of the Spanish league season.
Suarez remains banned for Uruguay’s next eight competitive games and will miss next year’s Copa America and some World Cup qualifying games.
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 in a traditional season-opening game named for the Catalan club’s founder.
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 games and three of Barcelona’s six UEFA Champions League group games.
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.
CAS will publish its reasons for the verdict in the coming weeks.