Suarez accepts FA charge but contests proposed ban
Liverpool striker on violent conduct charge after biting Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea
Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea (left) was bitten by Luis Suarez of Liverpool during their Barclays Premier League match at Anfield on Sunday. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Luis Suarez has accepted a charge of violent conduct for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic.
The Football Association has confirmed the Liverpool striker has pleaded guilty and an independent regulatory commission will now meet via video conference to decide on his punishment.
Suarez could face a lengthy ban but has denied a claim from the FA that a standard three-match suspension is “clearly insufficient”.
A statement from the FA read: “Luis Suarez has today accepted a charge of violent conduct, following an incident with Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in Sunday’s fixture at Anfield.
“However, Suarez has denied the FA’s claim that the standard punishment of three matches is clearly insufficient for this offence. The incident was not seen by the match officials and has therefore been retrospectively reviewed.”
It was thought Suarez could face a ban of at least six matches or even as many as 10 but the player will have the right to appeal if he feels it is too severe. The three-person regulatory commission will include a former player and will deal with the case under the FA’s fast-track system.
The outcome of the hearing may depend on whether Suarez’s past counts against him in any significant way. The 26-year-old was banned for seven matches in Holland in 2010 when he bit Otman Bakkal, and although that incident will not form any part of the FA’s case as it was in a different country, the commission will have the discretion to take his personal disciplinary history into consideration.
The same approach will also be used when the commission decide whether his eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra should have any impact on the sanction for this case. There is no standard minimum or maximum punishment for biting in football’s disciplinary code, unlike rugby union which has a 12-week recommended suspension for first offences up to a four-year ban for the most serious biting offences.
There have been suggestions that the fact Jermain Defoe escaped with a yellow card for biting Javier Mascherano in 2006 could influence the outcome of the Suarez hearing, but FA insiders say that will not be the case.
The FA’s rules have changed significantly since 2006, and had Defoe committed the same offence today he would undoubtedly have faced an FA charge under the umbrella of ‘exceptional circumstances’.
Suarez yesterday apologised to Ivanovic, who suffered a bruised arm from the bite, and the Chelsea defender has acknowledged the apology.
Liverpool moved quickly to deal with the latest crisis surrounding their star striker and imposed a club fine which is being donated to the Hillsborough families’ support group.
This latest controversy came just two days after Suarez was named on the shortlist for the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award.
With the votes already counted, the forward will remain eligible for the award. PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor, who has been critical of Suarez’s actions, said: “There is no doubt that in football terms the Barclays Premier League would shine a little less brightly without Luis Suarez.
“Irrespective of whether he wins the PFA Players’ Player of the Year, Luis still has the opportunity and the talent to rewrite his legacy and make his mark in England for the right reasons.”