Suarez handed 10-game ban for biting opponent
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was handed a 10-match ban on Wednesday for biting an opponent during a Premier League game, one of the most severe sanctions meted out by English football for on-pitch misbehavior.
A disciplinary panel ruled that a regular three-match ban for violent conduct was “clearly insufficient” and added seven games to the suspension, which rules Suarez out for the rest of the campaign and for the first six matches of next season.
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre said Suarez and the club were “shocked and disappointed” at the punishment, which came after the latest transgression in the Uruguay international’s turbulent career.
Suarez has until Friday to appeal against the extra seven games added to his sanction. If he fails in any appeal, Suarez likely won’t play another game for Liverpool until September.
“We await the written reasons tomorrow before making any further comment,” said Ayre, who has already said the club has no intention of selling Suarez — the Premier League’s second highest scorer with 23 goals.
In a Premier League match broadcast globally on Sunday, Suarez bit Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic on the upper right arm during the 2-2 draw at Anfield. He wasn’t sent off because the referee didn’t see the incident, which was reviewed retroactively by the English Football Association.
Suarez, who was fined by Liverpool after admitting to biting Ivanovic, was banned for seven matches in 2010 for a similar offense while playing for Ajax against PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch league. That incident earned him the nickname “Cannibal of Ajax.”
Suarez was also suspended for eight games in December 2011 for making racist insults toward Manchester United defender Patrice Evra during a match.
The FA has come down hard on Suarez, giving him a more severe ban than it handed to him and Chelsea captain John Terry (four matches) for racist abuse last season. It has parallels with a recent judgment in rugby league, when England international James Graham was banned for 12 games for biting an opponent during an Australian league game.
It’s not as heavy, though, as the 12-game ban handed to Joey Barton after he clashed with Manchester City players after his sending-off for Queens Park Rangers on the final day of last season. In 1998, Paolo Di Canio — the current Sunderland manager — was suspended for 11 games for pushing a referee while playing for Sheffield Wednesday while David Prutton was banned for 10 matches in 2005 for shoving a referee after being sent off.
With his goals and performances this season, Suarez was starting to rehabilitate a reputation that was first damaged when he was sent off for a deliberate handball to prevent Ghana from scoring a late goal in a World Cup quarterfinal match in 2010. He was seen celebrating on the sideline when Ghana missed the spot kick and Uruguay advanced in a shootout.
His penchant for diving aside, even his critics had been starting to warm to one of the world’s most gifted players. He is on the six-man shortlist for English football’s Player of the Year award, compiled before Sunday’s incident.