Rodgers ‘bitterly disappointed’ with 10-game Suarez ban
‘Luis has genuinely tried to curb and change his natural instincts. This year he has done that brilliantly. The punishment is on the man, not the incident.’
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says the Suarez punishment does not fit the crime. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA
The Uruguay striker was yesterday handed a lengthy suspension for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. Liverpool have until midday tomorrow to appeal and will make their decision after receipt of the disciplinary panel’s report, which has to arrive with the club before 6pm today.
“It is the severity of the ban that has hurt most,” said the Red boss. “That is something we are bitterly disappointed with — not so much the ban because everyone has seen it and Luis was very open and honest to know it was wrong.”
He added: “Luis has genuinely tried to curb and change his natural instincts. This year he has done that brilliantly. The punishment is on the man, not the incident.
“There were two incidents of this type of scenario in 2006. One player (Jermain Defoe) received no ban and continued to be picked by the FA for the England squad. The second player received a five game ban then Luis receives a 10 game ban. That is very difficult for us and Luis to understand.
“This is a guy who has tried to curb his behaviour. Growing up, his mentality has always been about winning. The punishment is on the man, not the incident. That’s my underlying feeling.
“It was violent conduct, the football club admitted it, Luis admitted it, andhe needed to be punished. But we’ve got a punishment with no intention towards the rehabilitation of the player. The player needs a little bit of help. That is something we will look to provide here.
“It is something I would expect any business to do. The biggest objective is to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.
The Northern Irishman insisted his striker has “not let me down one bit” and added: “If I had half a dozen players with a similar mentality then we would be in a different position as a football club.
Rodgers went on to say Suarez “fell way below the standards set at this club last weekend but it doesn’t mean that he should be thrown to the garbage”, while he was also critical of the procedures followed by the FA.
Rodgers criticised the way in which Suarez’s ban was decided.
“It’s the first time I’ve heard of an independent inquiry being dictated to by so many people,” he added. “The FA put it out there the day before that it would be more than three games. If you are independent there is a prejudice there straight away.
“We just never thought the ban would be so severe.”
The manager added the “carrot” and stick approach would have been a more appropriate sanction.
“It could’ve been a 12-game ban but with six games suspended and looking at his future behaviour,” said Rodgers. “ I don’t think anyone could’ve argued with that. It tells the player it is unacceptable but you put the carrot in front of the player to help him and help him with the rehabilitation. In this case it has only been punishment.”
Rodgers added that Suarez was also at a loss to explain his actions.
“I asked Luis ‘what were you thinking?’ And he couldn’t answer it. It was impulsive.”
Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina agrees wtih his manager and feels the ban is absurd.
“I consider myself a friend of Luis. He is being treated differently, I don’t know if it’s because he’s Uruguayan or because he’s had a previous episode like this...,” Reina told Spanish radio station Cadena Cope. “He knows full well that what he did was wrong but a 10-game ban seems to me absurd, out of proportion and unfair.
“It seems that the people making the decisions have got it in for Luis a little bit. That’s the way I see it. I am not justifying what he did but the punishment is very disproportionate. He knows he was in the wrong, he knows he has made a mistake but the treatment is completely out of place.
“Those who know Luis know that he is the complete opposite (off the pitch), he is a magnificent person and great team-mate. But because of the way he plays, he is aggressive and very competitive, he plays like a street player and sometimes the way he is gets him into trouble.”