Luis Suarez’s legal team are confident they can persuade the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to halve the four-month ban imposed by FIFA for biting an opponent when the appeal hearing takes place on Friday.
The Barcelona striker’s lawyers have traveled to CAS headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, ahead of the hearing and are expected to argue that as the biting incident took place while playing for Uruguay in the World Cup then the ban should be limited to international football.
The legal team are confident of obtaining a reduction of the ban to two months, meaning the former Liverpool striker would be available to play from August 25, and for him to be allowed to train with Barcelona for the duration of his suspension.
CAS had said a final decision is likely "some days after the conclusion of the hearing" but there is a chance it could be made as early as Friday once the appeal is over.
FIFA imposed a four-month ban from all football-related activity, plus a nine-match international ban and a £66,000 fine after Suarez bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay’s 1-0 win on June 24. FIFA’s appeal committee later upheld the sanctions.
Suarez’s lawyer and adviser Alejandro Balbi, who is also a member of the Uruguay FA’s (AUF) executive, admitted there was less chance of overturning the nine-match ban, but said there is scope for the four-month ban to be reduced on the grounds that it infringes the player’s "fundamental rights".
Balbi told Uruguayan newspaper El Observador: "It would be more logical to reduce the sanction by a few months than to reduce the ban concerning international games, because legally it’s easier to contend against the terms of the suspension that forbid him from training and from being at the club, because they violate fundamental rights.
"The other ban (the nine-match ban for Uruguay) is more a question of the level of the punishment."
Balbi also confirmed that the AUF’s lawyers will lead the defense despite reports in Spain that Barcelona’s lawyer will represent Suarez.
He also claimed the player’s absence from internationals cost Uruguay hundreds of thousands of dollars for each match.
"In Spain they are saying that the lawyer who represent him at CAS will be sent by Barcelona, but that’s not the case, Barcelona’s lawyer is just consulting with the AUF (Uruguayan Football Association)," added Balbi.
"It is clear that Uruguay are interested in reducing the penalty imposed on Luis by the number of matches while Barcelona want to reduce the sentence by a number of months.
"But we will defend him on everything, bearing in mind the fact there is also an economic effect on the AUF because not having Suarez means it loses between 250,000 US dollars and 359,000 US dollars every game."
Balbi has also tweeted a link to a story in the Uruguayan media reporting Suarez’s legal team are hopeful of the ban being halved.
Barcelona paid Liverpool £75million for Suarez after he received his FIFA ban, which as it stands keeps him out until October 25.