Downing Street wants FA to make an example of Suarez
Cameron’s spokesman says FA punishment should reflect striker’s role model status
Luis Suarez of Liverpool has been charged with violent conduct by the FA. Photograph: Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
Downing Street has called on the English Football Association to make an example of Luis Suarez after he was charged with violent conduct for biting Branislav Ivanovic and Liverpool declared their leading striker would not be sold as a result of his latest indiscretion.
The FA cleared the way for Suarez to receive a substantial suspension after confirming referee Kevin Friend missed Sunday’s incident at Anfield and the ruling body said an automatic three-match ban for violent conduct would be “clearly insufficient”.
Support for an increased punishment arrived from an unlikely source when a spokesman for David Cameron entered the debate.
“It is rightly a matter for the football authorities to consider,” said the Prime Minister’s spokesman.
“As part of their consideration, I think it would be very understandable if they took into account the fact that high-profile players are often role models.”
Contrary to claims from Suarez, Ivanovic has not accepted an apology for having his arm bitten during the 2-2 draw at Anfield.
The striker’s sponsor, Adidas, has taken the unusual step of criticising its own client, while Liverpool fined the Uruguay international an undisclosed sum yesterday morning, which Suarez asked to be donated to the Hillsborough Family Support Group.
The Professional Footballers’ Association has also offered anger management counselling. Suarez’s nomination for the PFA player of the year award will not be withdrawn, however.
The FA is to appoint a three-man independent commission to consider Suarez’s violent conduct charge tomorrow. The panel, comprising a chairman, a former footballer and an FA council member, all independent of the two clubs involved, will have the power to impose an extended suspension on the 26-year-old.
Suarez received an eight-match ban plus a €47,000 fine for using racially abusive language towards Patrice Evra last season and the commission can take his past conduct into account.
In a statement, the FA confirmed:
“The incident was not seen by the match officials and has therefore been retrospectively reviewed. It is alleged that the conduct of Suarez constitutes violent conduct and it is the FA’s contention that the standard punishment of three matches that would otherwise apply is clearly insufficient in these circumstances. Suarez has until 6pm tomorrow to respond to the charge, thereafter an independent regulatory commission will be convened this Wednesday, 24 April.”
Suarez is unlikely to face any police action for biting the Serbia defender, despite a Metropolitan police officer examining Ivanovic on his return to Chelsea’s Cobham training ground on Sunday night.
A spokesman for Merseyside police, who began the investigation, said last night: “Merseyside Police can confirm officers have spoken to Branislav Ivanovic in person. He had no apparent physical injuries and did not wish to make a complaint. This is now a matter for the Football Association.”
Not be sold
Liverpool’s managing director, Ian Ayre, yesterday insisted Suarez would not be sold. Ayre, has been in contact with the principal owner, John W Henry, and chairman, Tom Werner, in Boston and when asked if the bite would have any bearing on Suarez’s Liverpool future, he said: “Not at all. It affects his future in the sense that we have to work with him on his discipline, but Luis is a very important player to the club.”