Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes the Football Association (FA) has “punished the man” rather than the actual offence by giving striker Luis Suarez a 10-match ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic.
Uruguay’s Suarez, 26, admitted a charge of violent conduct after the 2-2 draw at Anfield on Sunday. Rodgers told LFC TV: “The punishment is against the man, rather than the incident. “We have a punishment with no intention of helping his rehabilitation.”
Liverpool have until 12:00 BST on Friday to appeal, but will be without Suarez until late September if the FA upholds its verdict.
The Reds have yet to receive the written reasons for the ban from the FA’s independent regulatory commission, but expect it before 18:00 BST on Thursday.
Rodgers, whose side travel to Newcastle United on Saturday, also said: Liverpool were “shocked” and “bitterly disappointed” by the severity of the ban. Suarez was very visibly disappointed. The Uruguayan remains very much part of the Liverpool “family” and the club’s “future”. No-one could have complained if the punishment had been a six-game ban with a further six suspended.
Suarez has apologised to 29-year-old Serbian defender Ivanovic and was fined by Liverpool on Monday.
“We are shocked and bitterly disappointed,” said Rodgers. “It is the severity of the ban which has hurt most. That is something we are bitterly disappointed with.
“I can only compare it with similar incidents we have had. We have had two incidents of this type of scenario, both in 2006.”
Appearing to refer to the FA’s decision not to charge Tottenham’s Jermain Defoe for allegedly biting Javier Mascherano, then of West Ham, Rodgers said: “One player received no ban and continued to be chosen by the FA as part of the England squad.
“The second player (Chester defender Sean Hessey) received a five-game ban. As you can imagine whenever Luis Suarez receives a 10-match ban it is very difficult for us to understand and even more so for him.
“If I had more players of a similar mentality we would be in a different position. He has not let me down one bit. The standard set by the club, he fell way below that at the weekend. But it does not mean he should be thrown to the garbage, which is what has happened over the last couple of days.”
It is not the first time Suarez has been charged with such an offence. He was banned for seven games when he was a player with Dutch side Ajax after biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal’s shoulder during a match in November 2010.
“The boy has worked tirelessly to fit in to the life in this country. He has made a mistake and has got a sanction we don’t believe fits what he did. He loves this country and loves being here. If I’m Luis Suarez sat at home with his wife and family and his kid is loving life in Liverpool, it’s arguable he won’t have a better season but he has still had that scrutiny and criticism and that goes back to the punishment and the incident.
“It was too severe for what he’s done and that will make you think. At the moment there’s shock and anger but when he is a bit more reflective, a sense of reality will set in. He knows the support he will get, from the management, from the players and the fans, and that will always make him think differently. At this moment he will feel low because of the sanction that’s been put on his action.
“Having spoken a lot to him, he is visibly very disappointed. I look in his face and for the first time I can see a genuine guy who is disappointed. It will take time for him to reflect and understand why others have never been punished. For us it is a case of supporting him. He is still very much part of our family and very much part of our future. He is very important for us going forward in order to succeed,” said Rodgers.
When asked what length of ban he was hoping for, Rodgers replied: “I knew it was maybe going to be three games. “It could have been 12 with six suspended. That shows and tells the player it’s unacceptable what he did and everyone knows that but you have to put the carrot in front of the player to help him improve his behaviour and help with the rehabilitation and this has only been punishment.
“There’s been no thought of rehabilitation unless something dramatic comes up in the report that tells me otherwise. It’s a straight 10 games.”