The gambling firm said it was ending its deal with “immediate effect” after holding high-level meetings over its future with the footballer, who has been booted out of the World Cup for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini. 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.
In a statement 888Poker says: “888poker signed Luis Suarez following a fantastic season for which his achievements were widely recognised.
“Regrettably, following his actions during Uruguay’s World Cup match against Italy on Tuesday, 888poker has decided to terminate its relationship with Luis Suarez with immediate effect.”
It ends 888Poker’s brief relationship with the player after signing him as its global ambassador last month. The company was hoping to use Suarez’s rising stock as one of the best players in the world to accelerate awareness for the brand.
Adidas could join 888Poker in severing its ties to the controversial player. The German business is understood to be having discussions concerning its deal with the star as it cuts the player from its World Cup marketing campaign. It said it fully supported FIFA’s ban and said it would be “reminding him of the high standards we expect from our players”.
Rupert Pratt, managing director of sports sponsorship agency Generate, says fair play has to be a “central element” to any sponsorship programme and given that 888 is a poker company, this is a “big consideration”.
He adds: “Like any sponsorship deal, its hugely important for brand ambassadors to exude the same values and ideals of the particular company that they are representing.
“However, as we’ve seen so many times before, sport is a fast moving spectacle and attention can quickly deflect onto the next talking point. There is an argument that Suarez’s professional achievements next season will again dilute the gross misconducts of the past as it has before.