Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Rodgers queries panel independence

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers described Luis Suarez's 10-match ban for biting as 'severe'

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has claimed the Football Association prejudiced striker Luis Suarez's hearing by an independent panel.

The Uruguay international was handed a 10-match ban - described as "severe" by the Reds boss - for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.

However, Rodgers questioned the panel's ruling after the Football Association, immediately prior to the hearing, stated the statutory three-match suspension for violent conduct was "insufficient".

"We need to understand what an independent panel is," said the Liverpool manager, who also queried how much of the punishment had been as a result of Suarez's record rather than the actual incident.

"We had been given clear indications by the FA that there was going to be an independent - or so-called independent - case put together and then we would receive what that sanction would be.

"If you are an independent panel and yet the day beforehand the FA come out and say he (Suarez) will serve more than three games it is not independent because they are already putting pressure on the sanction. There is a prejudice there straightaway. There was a lot of euphoria around the time it happened.

"Everyone has their opinion - which is normal. People will be emotional in their statements - former players of the club and ex-players of other clubs having their opinions - the Prime Minister even chipped in, which is a different matter altogether. But when you look at it in the cold light of day then it was violent conduct.

"It is the first time I have ever heard of an independent inquiry being dictated to by so many people. There is absolutely no doubt there should be a protocol in place which tells us what the variances are because there are inconsistencies there."

Rodgers referred to the cases of Jermain Defoe, who escaped with just a booking for biting West Ham's Javier Mascherano and Chester's Sean Hessey, who was banned for five matches for a bite on Stockport's Liam Dickinson - both in 2006.

Rodgers also insisted Suarez will not be "thrown into the garbage" following his ban, with the Reds boss reiterated the stance of managing director Ian Ayre earlier this week by stressing the club will not sell the Uruguay international.

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