Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has been banned for 10 matches by the Football Association after being cited for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in their recent 2-2 draw (h/t LiverpoolFC.com).
UPDATE: Friday, April 26 at 10:05 a.m. ET by Tim Daniels
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre released the following statement regarding Suarez's decision to accept the suspension on the club's official site.
"The charges against Luis were his to consider and we have to respect his decision to not appeal the 10-game ban.
"We are all disappointed at the severity of the punishment and in particular the differing standards that have been applied across various previous incidents.
"Luis is an important member of our team and nothing has changed in that regard.
"We are committed to helping him improve his conduct and he will be given our full support. We look forward to him returning to the team next season when he is available for selection."
Manager Brendan Rodgers also provided comments about the situation.
"We can't hide our disappointment at the outcome of this situation, but we have to move on and support Luis in his decision.
"Luis has made a huge contribution to the squad this season and we respect his decision to accept the ban.
"He will be missed for the remainder of this season and the early part of next, but we will have the opportunity to welcome a better person and player when he returns."
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UPDATE: Friday, April 26 at 8:45 a.m. ET by Tim Daniels
Suarez has decided to accept the 10-match ban for his actions against Chelsea, according to the official statement of punishment from the FA.
---End of update---
No punishment was given by the referee on the night—he did not see the incident unfold—but after Ivanovic complained to the official and replays confirmed the incident was true, both the English FA and Liverpool faced growing pressure to ban Suarez.
The club released a statement about the punishment, calling 10 matches a shocking length.
Per that report, Liverpool 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.
Perhaps the most damning was a statement from The Times' Oliver Kay, who wrote that "it looked like instinct—and that, whether you are one of the best footballers in the world or a two-year-old in a nursery, is a disturbing instinct to have."
Suarez, for what it's worth, issued an apology for the incident, stating that he was "deeply sorry for [his] inexcusable behavior" and that he had let the manager, his teammates and Liverpool Football Club down. Ivanovic, however, did not accept the apology and was reportedly "not happy at all" with Suarez, as the Metropolitian Police were forced to conduct their own investigation into the incident.
It is not the first time that Suarez has been the center of controversy, with lengthy bans in his career for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, deliberately kicking Scott Parker and yes, biting Otman Bakkal when he played for Dutch side Ajax.
Suarez had seemingly put the majority of that behind him this season with a strong campaign at Liverpool. With 23 goals so far this year, Suarez was in the running for the PFA Player of the Year award (which he may still win) and has been fundamental to Liverpool's attack this season.
However, his latest incident will no doubt dominate any discussion of his 2012-13 season, and it may end up costing him his future at the Merseyside club as well.
Time will tell.
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