Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez given 10-game ban after biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 21:  Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea talks with Luis Suarez of Liverpool as they walk in for half time during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on April 21, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 21: Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea talks with Luis Suarez of Liverpool as they walk in for half time during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Chelsea at Anfield on April 21, 2013 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Liverpool's Luis Suarez has been given a 10-game ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic, the Football Association has confirmed.

The sanction was imposed today by an independent regulatory commission on a charge of violent conduct against the Liverpool striker.

An FA statement said: "A three-person independent regulatory commission today upheld the FA's claim that a suspension of three matches was clearly insufficient and the player will serve a further seven first-team matches in addition to the standard three. The suspension begins with immediate effect."

Suarez has until midday on Friday to appeal the additional suspension.

LFC 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 before making any further comment."

The 10-game ban is harsher than the eight-match suspension handed to Suarez in December 2011 for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra, and significantly more than the four-game ban given to Chelsea captain John Terry last year for racist abuse.

QPR midfielder Joey Barton was given a 12-game ban last season, for a red card and violent conduct towards three players.

In 2006, the FA banned Manchester City's Ben Thatcher for eight matches for an elbow incident that left Portsmouth's Pedro Mendes unconscious.

A 10-match ban will see Suarez miss Liverpool's remaining four games of this season and the first six domestic matches of the next campaign, potentially ruling the Uruguayan striker out until October.

Suarez had pleaded guilty to the charge of violent conduct but had denied the FA's claim that the standard punishment of three matches was "clearly insufficient" for the offence.

The three-person regulatory commission included a former player and dealt with the case under the FA's fast-track system.

It also appears that Suarez's past has counted against him - the 26-year-old was banned for seven matches in Holland in 2010 when he sank his teeth into Otman Bakkal, and although that incident did not form any part of the FA's case as it was in a different country, the commission had the discretion to take his personal disciplinary history into consideration.

The same approach was also taken in relation to deciding whether his eight-match racism ban should have any impact on the sanction for this case.

There is no standard minimum or maximum punishment for biting in football's disciplinary code, unlike rugby union which has a 12-week recommended suspension for first offences up to a four-year ban for the most serious biting offences.

Suarez had apologised on Monday to Ivanovic, who suffered a bruised arm from the bite, and the Chelsea defender acknowledged the apology.

Liverpool moved quickly to deal with the latest crisis surrounding their star striker and imposed a club fine which is being donated to the Hillsborough families' support group.

Suarez will remain eligible for the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year award, for which he has been shortlisted, with the announcement on Sunday.

Before the FA's decision was announced, Suarez gave notification that he was ready to fight a lengthy Football Association ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic by denying the FA's claim that a standard three-match ban was insufficient given the extraordinary nature of the incident.

Suarez was previously banned for seven games in the Netherlands when he bit PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal during his time with Ajax.

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