'Deplorable, disgraceful' Suarez made to pay price
Published 27/04/2013 | 08:47
The fact that Luis Suarez's attack on Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic was seen by "millions of viewers" and became "the top trend on Twitter worldwide" during Sunday's Premier League match at Anfield was cited as justification for the controversial 10-game ban imposed on the Liverpool striker, it emerged last night.
Fears that children might copy Suarez's "reprehensible" attempt to bite Ivanovic were also cited as one of the key reasons for the severity of the punishment handed down by the independent FA panel.
However, the three-man regulatory commission led by FA Women's Premier League chairman Thura KT Win insisted the Uruguayan's previous misdemeanours, including his eight-match racism ban, had no bearing on its decision to throw the book at him.
The written reasons of the panel – which also featured former Arsenal midfielder Brian Talbot and Cambridgeshire FA secretary Roger Pawley – were published yesterday afternoon by the FA after Suarez decided not to appeal against the length of the ban.
They seemed to chime with the British prime minister David Cameron's assertion that Suarez had "set the most appalling example" to youngsters, the document laying bare the moral outrage of the three men sitting in judgment over the 26-year-old and their determination to make an example of him worldwide.
Repeatedly branding his behaviour "reprehensible", "disgraceful" and "deplorable", they dismissed as "preposterous" his attempt to argue his bite was not premeditated and that he had not intended to cause injury.
They accused him of failing to appreciate "the gravity and seriousness of this truly exceptional incident" by challenging the FA's attempt to impose more than a three-man ban, a decision that proved costly.
Also factored into their deliberations were precedents in what the panel determined were similar "violent conduct" cases this year involving Eden Hazard and Brighton's Ashley Barnes.
Disregarding the Ben Thatcher elbow on Pedro Mendes and Jermain Defoe bite on Javier Mascherano in 2006 as inapplicable, the commission found Suarez's actions to be "significantly more serious" than Barnes' trip on a referee last month which landed him a six-match suspension.
The panel dismissed the argument that biting should be punished less harshly than a horror tackle because "challenging for the ball is part of the game", whereas biting was "alien to football and must remain so".
It added: "We have the responsibility for the whole game of football in England, down to the youth football at grassroots level, and it is our duty to discourage any players at any level from acting in such a deplorable manner or attempting to copy what they had seen on the television."
The judgment tallied almost precisely with the verdict of Cameron, who earlier defended his call for the panel to come down hard on Suarez, which Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers claimed had "prejudiced" the proceedings.
Cameron said: "I've got a seven-year-old son who just loves watching football and when players behave like this, it just sets the most appalling example to young people in our country.
"Children do see these real-life examples and they repeat them back to you."
In electing not to appeal, Suarez apologised again for his behaviour, adding: "I would like to explain to everybody that I decided to accept the ban because, whilst 10 games is clearly greater than those bans given in past cases where players have actually been seriously hurt, I acknowledge that my actions were not acceptable on the football pitch so I do not want to give the wrong impression to people by making an appeal."
Liverpool could be without Suarez until October and Rodgers said: "We can't hide our disapp-ointment at the outcome, but we have to move on and support Luis. 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."
Liverpool's stance was backed by Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, who saw Eric Cantona banned for eight months for a kung-fu kick on a Crystal Palace supporter in 1995.
He said United banned Cantona themselves for four months only for the FA to double it. Ferguson said: "I keep going back to Cantona because the FA did us that day and we would never allow that to happen now."
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini (left) leapt to the defence of Suarez, claiming the striker deserved to be crowned Footballer of the Year.
He said: "He did a mistake and he said sorry to everyone. Do you want to kill him?" (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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