Adidas axing Luis Suarez from World Cup campaign in response to FIFA ban

Adidas is pulling controversial footballer Luis Suarez from its World Cup marketing campaign after he was slapped with an unprecedented ban from all football biting a player during a high-profile match.

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The sportswear maker has come down on the footballer after he was kicked out of the World Cup by football chiefs for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during Tuesday’s match. The ban is for nine international matches and means Suarez will be unable to play for his club side, currently Liverpool FC, until mid-October.

Adidas said it fully supports FIFA’s decision. In a statement it added: “Adidas certainly does not condone Luis Suarez’s recent behaviour and we will again be reminding him of the high standards we expect from our players.

“We have no plan to use Suarez for any additional marketing activities during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.”

Adidas has stopped short of stating whether it will use the striker in future campaigns. The business did not respond to questions by Marketing Week over the future of its multi-million pound deal by the time this article was published.

The company has put the tempestuous striker at the forefront of its campaign, its biggest to date, that has seen the player’s face adorn everything from buses to in-store promotions worldwide. Planned YouTube, Facebook and Twitter content featuring the player will be scrapped, a move that could stunt the brand’s sales charge in markets such as Latin America, where it had been banking on gaining share off the back of the tournament.

The incident is the third time Suarez has been sanctioned for biting. However, despite the severity of the latest ban, Adidas said only that it would once again speak to the player about his actions. It echoes the approach adopted by the brand last year when it rebuked the striker for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic during a Premier League match.

Antony Marcou, managing director at Sports Revolution says the fallout from the ban could have long-term implications for Suarez’s commericial value. The player is already the subject of several stunts from brands including McDonald’s and Nando’s mocking his misdemeanour.

Marcou adds: “In the short term, Suarez will now be toxic for most sponsors. We’ve seen it before with Wayne Rooney – brands will put up with so much bad behavior, but this really is a case of three strikes – or bites – and you’re out. However, this sport has a short memory.

”There is also the possibility that sponsors will turn his infamy into a selling point. We have already seen a lot of this humour used by brands on social media and that could catch on in the mainstream. Think about Gareth Southgate and the Pizza Hut ‘miss’ ads.”

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