As the excitement of the World Cup intensifies on the pitch, there has been plenty of action off it with Fifa imposing one ban and lifting another.
The sport's world governing body lifted Franz Beckenbauer's 90-day ban from all football- related activity for failing to help an investigation of alleged corruption in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes, the German great's manager said yesterday.
The move comes a day after Fifa imposed a four-month ban on Uruguay's Luis Suarez for biting the shoulder of Italy's Giorgio Chiellini in their group D clash.
And in more fallout from that ban yesterday, gambling website 888poker has "terminated its relationship" with Suarez.
"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 said.
Fifa, meanwhile, informed Beckenbauer that his ban was lifted with immediate effect, the German's manager Marcus Hoefl announced on Twitter.
The ban was imposed on June 13 at the request of ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia. Beckenbauer said at the time he was surprised by the ban, and had received the investigators' questions only in complicated legal English. He had pledged to answer the questions
in German and in writing, he added, and Hoefel said on June 18 that the Fifa ethics committee had received those answers.
Yesterday, Chiellini described the sanctions handed down to Suarez as "excessive", saying he felt no anger towards the Uruguayan. "Now inside me there's no feelings of joy, revenge or anger against Suarez for an incident that happened on the pitch and that's done," the Juventus centre back said in a statement. "I believe that the proposed formula is excessive."
That chimed with the sentiments of Argentina legend Diego Maradona, who said on television that Fifa might as well send Suarez to Guantanamo prison.
"Who did Suarez kill?" Maradona asked. "This is football, this is contact... They may as well handcuff him and bring him to Guantanamo directly."
On the pitch, meanwhile, Argentina star Lionel Messi and Brazilian idol Neymar remain on collision course as the most entertaining event in decades enters the knockout rounds.
The possibility of Brazil and Argentina meeting in the July 13 final has loomed closer since the South American giants were kept in opposite sides of the draw.
So far Barcelona teammates Messi and Neymar have done everything in their power to stick to the script, almost single-handedly steering their teams through the first round into the last 16.
Messi, who began the tournament looking to cement his place in the pantheon of the game's greatest players - if he is not there already - has produced man-of-the-match performances in each of his three games, scoring four times in the process.
"Now we can't make any mistakes; any error will see us getting knocked out," said Messi after Argentina's win over Nigeria.
Argentina now travel to Sao Paulo to face group E runners-up Switzerland on Tuesday.
Before that, Neymar will aim to inspire Brazil again when they face Chile in Belo Horizonte today. Like Messi, Neymar has thrived on the responsibility of being his team's main man.
"We are on the right track and are growing all the time as we get closer to making our dream come true," the 22-year-old said.
Agence France-Presse, Associated Press