Ten-match bite ban fuels thoughts of future away from Premier League
Luis Suárez is considering his future in English football after being left “shocked and disappointed” at a ten-match ban imposed by the Football Association for biting Branislav Ivanovic.
As things stand, the Liverpool forward will miss the final four games of this season and first six of the next campaign, which means he may be suspended until late September. Suárez has until midday tomorrow to decide whether to appeal against the suspension.
Should he choose to challenge the ban, which was confirmed by the FA yesterday after an independent regulatory commission hearing, Suárez would risk receiving additional penalties if the appeal was deemed frivolous.
That decision is the most pressing concern for both Suárez and Liverpool. Ian Ayre, the Liverpool managing director, said yesterday: “Both the club and player are shocked and disappointed at the severity of today’s independent regulatory commission decision. We await the written reasons before making any further comment.”
Suárez, 26, is weighing up whether it is in his best interests to stay in the Barclays Premier League, particularly as he is being pursued by a number of European clubs. Interest in him from Bayern Munich and Juventus is longstanding, while the Uruguay striker is also understood to figure on Atlético Madrid’s shortlist of potential replacements for Radamel Falcao, who is expected to leave them this summer.
Suárez is widely regarded as one of world football’s most talented forwards. Any interested parties would, however, have to take into account that his ban would apply outside the Premier League and it would be no surprise if his persistent disciplinary problems deterred potential suitors.
Liverpool’s attempts to mitigate against a hefty punishment involved Suárez being fined two weeks’ wages (about £240,000) and placed on a behavioural improvement programme under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers, the manager.
Significantly, Ayre stressed that the former Ajax player was not for sale. “As we keep saying, he signed a new four-year contract last summer and we’d all love to see him here throughout that contract,” Ayre said on Monday.
How Suárez reacts to his latest brush with football’s authorities will determine whether that remains achievable. The player believes the severity of the punishment is wholly out of proportion to the offence. In Liverpool’s favour is Suárez’s affection for the club and how settled he is in the Merseyside area, but those factors will count for nothing if he feels that he is being victimised.
Last season, Suárez received an eight-match ban and £40,000 fine after being found guilty, again by an independent regulatory commission, of racially abusing Patrice Evra, the Manchester United defender. Despite Suárez and Liverpool doubting the validity of that verdict, no appeal was lodged.
Today, the independent panel will submit its reasons for issuing Suárez with a ten-game ban — they must do so by 6pm — and Liverpool will digest the contents of the adjudication before deciding whether to appeal.
The three-man panel at yesterday’s hearing, made up of a chairman, a former player and an FA Council member, was presented with a written submission from Liverpool on Suárez’s behalf in the wake of the incident in the Premier League match against Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday.
Liverpool believed that Suárez would receive a lengthier suspension than the standard three games, but had not envisaged that the verdict would be so severe.
“A three-person independent regulatory commission 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,” the FA said in a statement.