Luis Suarez has been handed a 10-match suspension for his latest misdemeanour.
The controversial Uruguayan international sunk his teeth into the arm of Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic on Sunday afternoon, which was unseen by the match officials and therefore went unpunished. What made it worse for the Blues, who are chasing a top-four finish and UEFA Champions League football, is the striker went on to grab a stoppage time equaliser.
All the talk after the game wasn’t about the 2-2 stalemate, but predictably, the antics of a player who only last season was issued with an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United fullback Patrice Evra. Wanting to avoid a repeat of the PR disaster which followed that incident, Suarez was quick to issue an apology to the player and via twitter.
Liverpool revealed on Monday they had also fined the 26-year-old, whilst the Professional Footballers Association raised the possibility of anger management. As for the Football Association, they confirmed they would be taking action against the player, and indicated he would likely receive more than the standard three-match suspension for violent conduct.
Suarez accepted the FA’s charge, yet also made it clear that he disagreed with their view that a longer ban was appropriate for his crime. However, this evidently fell on deaf ears, after it was announced on Wednesday afternoon that he will sit out 10 matches. And such a verdict has, predictably, not gone down well in the red half of Merseyside.
Liverpool’s managing director, Ian Ayre, said: “Both the club and player are shocked and disappointed at the severity of today’s Independent Regulatory Commission decision. We await the written reasons tomorrow (Thursday) before making any further comment.”
Their disappointment lies within the fact they will now be without their best player for the remainder of this season and for the opening six matches of next term. Yet what they expected the punishment to be is anyone’s guess. Suarez, of course, has previous for this offence, having received a seven-match ban for biting PSV Eindhoven defender Otman Bakkal whilst at Ajax. So it’s hard to understand how they could feel he would get a lesser suspension for committing the same crime twice.
Some fans are claiming it doesn’t make sense that he was only banned for eight-matches for racism, which is arguably a more serious offence than biting an opponent. And they’d be right to think this, so they – and their number 7 – can probably count themselves lucky that the Uruguayan got off so lightly with abusing Evra last season.
And then there are comparisons with Jermain Defoe, who received nothing more than a yellow card for biting West Ham United’s Javier Mascherano seven years ago. Again, the Tottenham Hotspur man should have been punished further, and that he wasn’t because the referee had witnessed it makes a mockery of such a rule. But just because he wasn’t handed a ban doesn’t mean the FA can excuse Suarez and make the same mistake twice.
The FA have made some dubious calls in the past, and they will in the future. Liverpool could yet appeal, but if they do they run the risk of incurring an extended ban. And the only way Suarez can avoid further ‘injustice’ in the future is for him to stop acting like a prat.