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Suarez accepts 10-game ban and seeks forgiveness

Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic (R) challenges Liverpool's Luis Suarez during their English Premier League soccer match at Anfield in Liverpool
Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic (R) challenges Liverpool's Luis Suarez during their English Premier League soccer match at Anfield in Liverpool

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has asked for forgiveness after accepting a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in last weekend's Premier League match.

The Uruguayan international had until Friday lunchtime to contest an FA Regulatory Commission's decision to add seven games to the usual three for a violent conduct charge but opted against it.

"I hope the people I offended last Sunday will grant me forgiveness and I again repeat my personal apology to Branislav," Suarez said on his Twitter account.

"While 10 games is clearly greater than those bans given in past cases where players have actually been seriously injured, I acknowledge 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."

Suarez, who bit Serbian international Ivanovic on the arm during the 2-2 draw at Anfield before later scoring an injury-time equalizer, will not be eligible to play for Liverpool in domestic competition until September.

It is the second time the 26-year-old has been punished for biting an opponent after he bit PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal on the neck while at Ajax Amsterdam in 2010, earning a seven-match ban.

Suarez was also banned for eight games last season after being found guilty by the FA of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in October 2011.

"TRULY EXCEPTIONAL"

The Commission issued the written reasons for his latest long ban on Friday, hours after British Prime Minister David Cameron had accused Suarez of setting an "appalling example".

It concluded that "biting an opponent in itself was extremely shocking, unexpected and truly exceptional. Whilst there are numerous violent conduct cases arising out of physical bodily contact between players, the incidents of biting an opponent are very rare".

The Commission report added: "We believe 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."

Suarez's previous disciplinary record was not taken into consideration, the report continued, adding the player had "not fully appreciated the gravity" of the incident which could have had health implications for Ivanovic.

Liverpool, who have fined Suarez, reiterated their disappointment with Wednesday's decision to ban their leading scorer for 10 games.

"The charges against Luis were his to consider and we have to respect his decision to not appeal the 10-game ban," managing director Ian Ayre said.

"We are all disappointed at the severity of the punishment and, in particular, the differing standards that have been applied across various previous incidents.

"Luis is an important member of our team and nothing has changed in that regard," added Ayre.

"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."

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has also criticized the FA's tough stance after the incident was missed by the referee and there was some sympathy from rival managers on Friday.

"In this case the proportionality looks very severe considering what other players have been punished for," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told reporters.

"I think what has gone completely against Suarez is his history, that is very heavy on the offence front. That's why he has been punished so severely, that's the only explanation I can find."

Manchester City's Roberto Mancini told a news conference: "Five or six games was enough, this is my opinion but I don't work for the FA".

(Additional reporting by Mark Meadows, editing by Alison Wildey and Tony Jimenez)

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