Luis Suarez has explained his reasons for not contesting a 10-match ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic, admitting: “My actions were not acceptable.”
It was announced earlier today that Liverpool would not appeal against the suspension and Suarez has since released a statement to explain his position.
"I am truly very sorry about the incident with Branislav Ivanovic. I hope that all the people who I have offended at Anfield last Sunday will grant me forgiveness and I again repeat my personal apology to Branislav," the statement read.
It went on: "I know that all the things that are happening to me in England will help me to improve my conduct on the field. Right now I just want to focus on becoming a better footballer on and off the field."
Liverpool left the final decision on whether to contest the ban to Suarez himself, who has since explained his reasoning for not appealing against it.
"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 injured, 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."
The statement from Suarez continued: "I really want to learn from what has happened in the last 2,5 years, many things have been said and written about me. I just tried to do my best on the field. I hope to come back early to play."
A statement from manager Brendan Rodgers said: "We can't hide our disappointment at the outcome of this situation, but we have to move on and support Luis in his decision.
"Luis has made a huge contribution to the squad this season and we respect his decision to accept the ban.
"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."
Managing director Ian Ayre added: "The charges against Luis were his to consider and we have to respect his decision to not appeal the 10-game ban.
"We are all disappointed at the severity of the punishment and in
particular the differing standards that have been applied across various
"Luis is an important member of our team and nothing has changed in that regard.
"We are committed to helping him improve his conduct and he will be given our full support. We look forward to him returning to the team next season when he is available for selection."
Today's decision not to appeal was announced in an FA statement that read: "Liverpool forward Luis Suarez has not appealed the suspension issued to him by an Independent Regulatory Commission this week.
"A three-person Independent Regulatory Commission upheld The FA's claim that a suspension of three matches was clearly insufficient and the player will now serve a further seven first-team matches in addition to the standard three.
"The suspension begins with immediate effect and applies to Liverpool FC's next ten domestic first-team fixtures."
Some at Liverpool have criticised the decision to ban the striker for 10 matches, which will see him miss the rest of this season and a further six games at the start of the next - if he remains at Anfield.
Speaking yesterday, manager Brendan Rodgers even said he would understand if Suarez considered quitting the Premier League and accused the men who banned him of “throwing him into the garbage”.
The Liverpool manager said he was “bitterly disappointed” by the punishment handed to the striker by the Football Association’s independent panel. Rodgers thought it likely the panel may have been unfairly influenced by public attacks on Suarez – including one by the Prime Minister, David Cameron.
Meanwhile, team-mate Jose Reina called the ban "absurd, out of proportion and unfair" and Jamie Carragher claimed it was preferable to be bitten than have a leg broken by a bad tackle.
Suarez has four years of his contract with Liverpool still to run but the fear at Anfield is that he and his agent, Pere Guardiola, may now look for a way out – especially as the club cannot offer Champions League football next season.
Following his ban for racially abusing the Manchester United defender Patrice Evra last season, by October Suarez will have been suspended for 18 matches or almost half a season while under contract to Liverpool.
“I understand if he felt he couldn’t carry on,” said Rodgers. “One hundred per cent. This is a guy who I see on a daily basis trying very hard.
“His two passions are his family and Liverpool Football Club. He throws his life into that. He has traits that are part of his make up and I genuinely think he is trying to adapt but, each time he takes a step forward, we find ways to beat him with a stick and strike him down. I can understand if he felt like leaving in a moment of reflection.
“I am not worried about a knock on the door from Luis [asking to leave]. I’ve got a relationship with Luis that is probably as close as with anyone at the club. We speak on a daily basis.
“I’ve had a lot of discussions with Pere Guardiola over the last few days that have been very strong. They have been very happy with what the club has done over the last few days to protect and support the player. But they also understand he needs help.”
Rodgers pointed out that when Jermain Defoe bit Javier Mascherano during a game between Tottenham and West Ham in 2006 it was punished with a booking. In the same year, a Chester player, Sean Hessey, was given a five-match ban for a biting incident. He argued that the storm of criticism that included an intervention from Cameron contributed to the severity of the punishment. However, Suarez’s previous convictions would have been taken into account. The FA “carefully considered his football record” before imposing a 12-game ban on Joey Barton for a further act of violent conduct last season.
“There is no doubt that, if you have these high-profile figures making those sorts of statements, there will be bias,” Rodgers said. “If people have been reading and listening to those things for 24 hours and then sit down on Wednesday morning to discuss it – well, people might argue whether they already had a decision in their minds. You have an FA Council member, an FA County representative and an ex-player on the panel so I don’t know how it is independent.
“I felt Luis would get more than three matches but we did hope there would be something in there that would offer him a greater opportunity to rehabilitate. The biggest thing in all of this is to make sure it does not happen again. He fell well below the standards of this football club but that does not mean he should be thrown into the garbage. The player does need help and that is something I will look to provide. I would expect any business to look after their employee if they made a mistake.”
Suarez will train at Melwood for the rest of the season and, in Steve Peters, Liverpool have access to a sports psychologist with a history of turning troubled careers around.
“I think a lot of what Luis does stems from his background,” said Rodgers. “If you look at many South American players, they will do whatever it takes to win. They have been brought up to fight for their lives. Luis epitomises that. He has grown up in an environment where it is all about survival. If I had a team of Luis Suarezes, Liverpool would be in a better position than we are in now.”
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