FA charges Liverpool striker Luis Suarez for bite
LONDON (AP) — Luis Suarez found himself in the familiar position of being an outcast on Monday, charged by the Football Association, fined by Liverpool, and rebuked by the government for biting an opponent a day earlier.
In a Premier League match broadcast globally on Sunday, Suarez bit Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic’s arm. Although he escaped punishment during the game, Suarez now faces a lengthy ban.
“The incident was not seen by the match officials and has therefore been retrospectively reviewed,” the FA said in a statement. “It is alleged that the conduct of Suarez constitutes violent conduct, and it is the FA’s contention that the standard punishment of three matches that would otherwise apply is clearly insufficient in these circumstances.”
Suarez has until Tuesday at 6 p.m. local time to respond to the charge, with a disciplinary hearing lined up for Wednesday.
Liverpool also moved swiftly to condemn Suarez after the club faced widespread outrage for defending the striker when he racially abused an opponent in 2011.
Suarez, who was also suspended for seven matches in 2010 while playing for Ajax after biting a player, said he has been fined by Liverpool for his “unacceptable behavior.”
The sum was undisclosed, but clubs can only fine players two weeks’ worth of wages without seeking permission from the Professional Footballers’ Association.
On his Twitter and Facebook accounts, Suarez asked for the fine to be donated to families affected by the 1989 Hillsborough Stadium disaster, which killed 96 Liverpool supporters. He said it was “for the inconvenience I have created to the Liverpool fans and to Ivanovic.”
“It is a nice gesture but it is a terrible thing under the circumstances,” Hillsborough Families Support Group chairman Margaret Aspinall said.
Suarez will not face a police investigation because Ivanovic said he did not want to press charges.
“He had no apparent physical injuries and did not wish to make a complaint,” Merseyside Police said in a statement.
But Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said it was “rightly a matter for the football authorities to consider.”
“As part of their consideration, I think it would be very understandable if they took into account the fact that high-profile players are often role models,” Cameron’s office said.
Liverpool said it has no intention of selling its top scorer despite the latest transgression.
“It affects his future in the sense that we have to work with him on his discipline, but Luis is a very important player to the club,” Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre said. “He’s a very popular player with his teammates. As we keep saying, he signed a new four-year contract last summer and we’d all love to see him here throughout that contract.”
Just why was clear on Sunday as he displayed the goal-scoring instinct that has turned him into one of the most feared strikers in England. After staying on the Anfield field despite the bite, Suarez went on to score his 30th goal of the season — a last-gasp equalizer — to clinch a 2-2 draw against Chelsea.
“He’s a fantastic player, top scorer and everything we’d want in a striker,” Ayre said. “This is more about getting him back on the right track.”
The Professional Footballers’ Association has offered Suarez the services of counselors.
“There is no doubting his football ability, that’s why it is so disappointing and embarrassing when he lets himself down,” PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said. “We have to work hard on anger management now. We have trained counselors in this field and we will be offering their services to Liverpool and the player to try to improve matters.”
Adidas took the rare step of speaking out against a player it sponsors, saying it will talk to Suarez about his actions.
“Adidas does not condone Luis Suarez’s behavior and we will be reminding him of the standards we expect from our players,” the sports apparel company said in a statement.
After the first biting incident while at Ajax, trouble followed Suarez to the English Premier League. He was suspended for eight games in December 2011 for making racist insults toward Manchester United defender Patrice Evra during a match.
Liverpool, which is owned by the Boston Red Sox ownership group, provoked widespread outrage by initially backing Suarez after that incident, but acted quickly this time in punishing the player.
“The most important thing is that we acted swiftly yesterday,” Ayre said. “Luis issued his apology and then we spoke with him last night and then again this morning ... you can see when you speak to him how sorry he is about it and he’s certainly shown quite a lot of contrition to us.”
Uruguayan football association vice president Miguel Sejas said “the player’s image is damaged in England” and suggested he might be better off changing countries “to avoid creating more controversies.”
“It’s another mistake,” Sejas said. “Suarez plays under pressure but it’s not an excuse for some of his attitudes. He will have to accept the consequences ... these are mistakes that he must be able to avoid in the future.
“Suarez should know better because he has been involved in multiple incidents. He should know to act differently.”
With his scoring spree this season, Suarez was starting to rehabilitate his damaged reputation.
His penchant for diving aside, even his critics had been starting to warm to one of the world’s most gifted players.
And this weekend he could collect the Player of the Year award decided by his fellow footballers after making the shortlist based on a PFA vote completed before Sunday’s incident.
Rob Harris can be reached at http://twitter.com/RobHarris