Once bitten, twice shy - the Luis Suarez PR conundrum

Four months and nine international games.

That's the ban Luis Suarez is facing, pending an appeal, for biting Giorgio Chiellini during the FIFA World Cup earlier this week.

There has been a media storm and regardless of the conspiracy theories coming out of Uruguay, it's provided the drama and controversy that makes football such a spectacle.

Suarez, remember, became notorious during the 2010 FIFA World Cup for blatantly handling the ball on the goalline, denying Ghana a goal and then conspicuously celebrating when the subsequent penalty was missed. He seemed to revel in the advantage his cheating had given his team.

At the start of the 2013-14 football season, he served out the remainder of a ten match domestic ban, after being found guilty of biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic and both he and the club had immediately apologised to the "football world" for his "inexcusable behaviour".

That was the second time Suarez had bitten someone and came after he had become involved in a race row with Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.

Despite Liverpool standing by their forward during his problems, he still tried to engineer a move to rivals Arsenal last summer and has again allowed speculation to develop about his future this year.

His form for Liverpool last season was outstanding and won plaudits from both his fellow professionals at the PFA and the Football Writers' Association, although as a member of the latter, I did not vote for him.

When a sportsman or woman is as good as Suarez, it would be easy to gloss over the problems with discipline that he has had.

Having been filmed biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during World Cup 2014, Suarez has again provoked a storm of controversy and criticism.

This time, rather than hold his hands up, he has denied that anything untoward happened, suggesting that it was just part of the game.

An admission would not have helped him, particularly not with his previous record.

Brands such as 888Poker are reviewing their relationship with Suarez and rightly so - while Adidas had recently reminded him of his responsibilities. It will be fascinating to see what action his endorsers take.

FIFA's punishment maintains the integrity of the competition and the spirit of fair play, not to mention to allays more criticism after questions were raised about their own handling of World Cup voting.

How can Suarez turn his reputation around?

He once said that he was a changed man and had put his misbehaviour behind him. His superb form for Liverpool last season helped fans to forget the misdemeanours that followed any mention of his name.

Football fans tend to be forgiving when a player is doing well but the latest incident has certainly dented the improvement his image has enjoyed over recent months.

The best Suarez can do now, once the inevitable ban has been served, is to dedicate the rest of his career to doing what he does best - scoring goals - and avoid any of the controversy that seems to follow him. If that is possible.

Will it stop other clubs from signing him, particularly given the speculation that he was on his way to Real Madrid or Barcelona this summer? Time will tell.

It's fascinating to think that Suarez will have missed almost an entire 38-game season in suspensions for Liverpool now without receiving a red card.

It will be fascinating to see if the club, who worked so hard to support Suarez, will now transfer list him and take the moral high ground after another ban that will cost them dearly. 

Whatever happens, there is no doubt that goalscoring is not all Luis Suarez will be remembered for when he finally ends his career.