Liverpool's Luis Suárez has received a 10-match suspension for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic, "one of the most severe punishments ever handed out" by the FA, according to Tony Barrett of the LONDON TIMES. Despite "admitting violent conduct," Suárez had denied the FA’s claim that the statutory three-game ban was "clearly insufficient for this offence." The suspension means Suárez "will miss the rest of this campaign and the first six matches of next season." Liverpool "had made written submissions" on behalf of Suárez, citing "his contrition and willingness to undergo counselling in an attempt to curb his behavioural excesses." 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" (LONDON TIMES, 4/24). Liverpool Managing Dir 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" (Liverpool).
THE RIGHT PUNISHMENT? In London, Jim White opined after issuing a 10-game ban, "nobody can accuse the FA of shirking a tough decision." Indeed, so "draconian is the punishment it has produced a most unexpected consequence: it is possible almost to feel sorry for Suárez." The problem with cases like this "is one of moral equivalence." Head-butts and two-footed tackles "accrue no more than three matches." Is the FA "really suggesting that a playground assault which resulted in nothing more than a moment of astonishment for Ivanovic is worse than a career-threatening assault?" (TELEGRAPH, 4/24). Also in London, Oliver Kay wrote, "This was a moment that the FA's disciplinary system bit back -- and bit harder than just about anyone had imagined." If anything, a 10-match ban "seems extreme." Have "they made an example of Suárez?" The answer is "yes, probably." However, "that is what the FA have always tended to do in high-profile cases when they have felt a need to send out a strong message to the rest of football" (LONDON TIMES, 4/24). Also in London, Jamie Jackson wrote on the GUARDIAN's Talking Sport blog, "What surprises here is that Suárez, Ayre and Liverpool are 'shocked.'" For one player to bite another "is beyond the boundary of what the usual three-match ban for violent conduct caters for, as the FA maintained" (GUARDIAN, 4/24).