Liverpool star and many pundits’ choice for player of the year, Luis Suarez, will be one of the online poker company’s ambassadors during this summer’s football tournament.
He joins current 888poker ambassadors Shane Warne and UFC champion Georges St. Pierre. The poker provider will be running a special football themed tournament with a top prize of $20,000 to coincide with this summer’s football festivities.
Suarez’s own participation in the summer’s football festivities was thrown into doubt earlier this year due to a knee injury. He was nevertheless included in Uruguay’s final squad and is said by doctors to be on course to recover in time to play a full part in the tournament.
Conspiracy theories have abounded in Uruguay that Suarez may have been injured deliberately while in England in order to boost the English team’s chances when the two teams meet on June 19. In an attempt to distance himself from these accusations, Uruguay team doctor Dr Alberto Pan said, “You cannot be sure how an injury happens. The injury did not start in England, necessarily; all we said was that he had suffered some bruising beforehand.”
The presence of Suarez will be huge boost for Uruguay when they face England in Group D. His team mate and former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan expressed confidence that he would be ready to play a role.
Forlan told the Guardian, “He is very determined and there is no doubt in his mind. But he is also aware that he is still in the phase of recuperation. We have a strong group of players and we are happy that he is here with us now. He has to take it one step at a time but his determination will help him make it.”
Former Uruguay midfielder, Gus Poyet, who will be one of the BBC’s commentary team during the tournament, has expressed his view that Suarez and the Uruguayan team will be prepared to do whatever it takes in order to defeat England. He told the Telegraph, “Whatever it is, to stop you, to win the game. Yeah, we do that, and we are proud of that. I think that’s a way you win more than you lose. If you just go to the game and you play the game and, if you are worse, you lose then you don’t want to win more than me.”
Suarez first rose to international notoriety during the quarter final four years ago when he was red carded for deliberately hand-balling on the goal line to deny Ghana a goal and knock them out of the tournament.
The player, who has been linked to Real Madrid and Manchester United, scored 31 goals in 33 appearances for Liverpool last season making him the Premier League’s top goalscorer. His goals helped Liverpool to get within touching distance of winning their first league title since 1990. A recent report in Barcelona’s Sport newspaper suggests that Manchester United may be willing to pay as much as £65million to bring the Uruguayan to the club, a move that would be bitterly opposed by many Liverpool fans.