The Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina has criticised Luis Suarez's 10-match ban for biting as "absurd, out of proportion and unfair".
There are fears the Uruguay international, who served a seven-match ban for biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal in November 2010 immediately before his move from Ajax to Anfield, could quit England in the summer as a result of the ban.
"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 is like a street player. Sometimes the way he is gets him into trouble." Reina also described sections of the English media as being sensationalist and "very, very, very, very hypocritical" and that Suarez is being singled out by the Football Association.
Asked if English xenophobia came into play, Reina said: "There is hypocrisy, I don't know if it's so much xenophobia, but a different yardstick is used. Some players are treated differently to others. In the racism cases, the one with proof [John Terry] got a four-game ban and Luis got eight matches."
The ban, pending any successful appeal, means Suarez will not be available for Liverpool until September. But having accepted he was wrong to bite Ivanovic there is a suggestion Suarez is unhappy by what he perceives harsh treatment and that may have a bearing on his future.
Ian Ayre, the Liverpool managing director, has stressed they have no intention of selling the 26-year-old, who signed a new four-year contract last summer, but that may not be enough to persuade the striker to remain in England – especially with clubs like Bayern Munich and Juventus interested in him.
"Right now he is a Liverpool player," said Reina. "He is having a bad time of it and so is his family. He is certainly good enough to fit into any team in the world."Reuse content