Controversial Uruguayan Soccer Star Luis Suarez Signs With 888poker

Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez

The recent trend of online poker sites signing professional sport stars continued on Wednesday 14 May when 888poker unveiled their newest member of Team 888poker, Liverpool and Uruguay soccer star Luis Suarez.

Twenty-seven year old Suarez is widely regarded as one of the best strikers to have ever played the game and has commanded massive transfer fees during his career so far as a result. Liverpool, Suarez’s current club, paid the largest of those transfer fees in January 2011 when Suarez transferred from Dutch outfit Ajax Amsterdam for €26.5 million ($36.34 million).

Suarez became an instant hit with the Merseyside club’s fans after helping his new team win the Football League Cup. Since signing with Liverpool, Suarez has scored 69 goals in 110 appearances including six hat tricks and even four goals in the 5-1 demolition of Norwich City in December 2013.

“Luis Suarez is an incredible sporting talent; passionate, competitive, technically gifted, and emotionally invested in the game. It’s those qualities that make him an exciting player to watch, in poker as well as football. It’s fantastic to have him on board,” said Senior Vice President of 888, Itai Panzer, welcoming Suarez to the site at a May 13 press conference.

The Uruguayan international frontman is indeed an incredibly talented soccer player and his performances on the pitch during the 2013-14 season were nothing short of mesmerising. Thanks in part to scoring 31 goals in 33 games, winning the Premier League Golden Boot as a result, Suarez was named the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Players’ Player of the Year, was named the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year and named in the PFA Team of the Year.

On the surface Suarez looks to be perfect for the role of Global Ambassador, but scratch the surface and start to delve a little deeper into Suarez’s history and you will find much controversy.

During the 2011-12 Barclays Premier League season, Suarez was found guilty by the Football Association (FA) of racially abusing Manchester United and France defender Patrice Evra and ordered to pay a £40,000 fine and serve an eight-game suspension. Suarez maintains that the word “negro” does not have racial connotations in his native Uruguay.

Also in the 2011-12 season, Suarez received a one-match ban after making an obscene gesture towards Fulham fans.

Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez

Suarez’s reputation was further tarnished in April 2013 when, during a 2-2 draw with Chelsea, he appeared to bit the arm of opposing player Branislav Ivanovic. Although the game official failed to see the incident, Suarez was found guilty by the FA of violent conduct and given a ten-game ban. This was the second time in Suarez’s career that he had been banned for biting after he served a seven-match ban following him sinking his teeth into an opponent’s shoulder while playing for his former club Ajax. The incident earned Suarez the nickname “Cannibal of Ajax.”

According to the 888poker website, Team 888poker has two sport stars (three including Suarez) on its books and three professional poker players. Former Australian cricketer Shane Warne and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) legend Georges St-Pierre both competed at the 2013 World Series of Poker (WSOP) sporting 888poker patches.

JC Tran signed with 888poker shortly after reaching the final table of the 2013 WSOP Main Event – Tran ultimately finished fifth for $2,106,893 – while the roster was bolstered as recently as April 2014 when female high-profile professional poker players Xuan Liu and Sofia Lӧvgren penned deals to become brand ambassadors.

For some reason, unknown to, neither Australia’s Jackie Glazier or American pro Jessica Dawley are listed as being 888poker ambassadors despite both been very much so.

While Suarez is sure to give plenty of exposure of the 888poker brand, especially in Latin America, there are many members of the poker community wondering whether that exposure will be positive or again shrouded in controversy.


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