Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has decided not to appeal a 10-match ban for biting an opponent during a Premier League game and will serve one of English football's harshest sanctions for on-the-field misbehavior.
His suspension will begin immediately, meaning he'll miss the last four games of this season and the first six of next season, the English Football Association said Friday.
The Uruguay international bit the upper arm of Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic during a 2-2 draw on Sunday. Suarez apologized to Ivanovic after the match, was fined by Liverpool and earned the wrath of the British Prime Minister.
On Friday, Suarez posted a statement on his website that said he chose not to appeal to avoid giving "the wrong impression.''
"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,'' Suarez said on the website, "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 English Football Association decided the regular three-match ban for violent conduct was insufficient in this case, and an independent panel decided Wednesday to add seven more games.
The panel said Suarez failed to appreciate "the gravity and seriousness of this truly exceptional incident'' and wanted to send a "strong message that such deplorable behaviors do not have a place in football.''
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"While we accepted that Mr. Suarez's reputation had been impacted, these unsavory pictures would have given a bad image of English football domestically and across the world alike,'' the three-person panel said in its written reasons, which were released by the FA later Friday.
The panel also referred to the possible health repercussions of Suarez's "truly disgraceful behavior.''
Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday that Suarez, the league's second highest scorer with 23 goals, has set an "appalling'' example to youngsters by biting a fellow player and welcomed the tougher sanction.
"I made my own views clear just as a dad watching the game,'' Cameron told the BBC. "I've got a 7-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.''
Suarez could have lodged an appeal against the extra seven games. If unsuccessful, he risked the possibility of the FA extending his sanction for making a frivolous appeal.
"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,'' Suarez said.
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It's not Suarez's first offense for biting an opponent. In November 2010, he was banned for seven matches for biting a PSV Eindhoven player in the Dutch league, earning the nickname "Cannibal of Ajax.''
Despite widespread condemnation of his actions, broadcast live to a global television audience, the striker has been passionately defended by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and teammates.
They believe Suarez was treated harshly by the FA because of his past disciplinary record. Along with biting a player in 2010, Suarez was suspended eight games for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in 2011.
However, the independent panel stressed that it "did not take into consideration any previous disciplinary records of Mr. Suarez and considered the offense in isolation.''
"We are all disappointed at the severity of the punishment and in particular the differing standards that have been applied across various previous incidents,'' Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre said in a club statement.
"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.''
Rodgers added in the statement that the club had to "move on and support Luis in his decision.''
Cameron believes the punishment fits the behavior on the field.
"I've read in some newspapers, who think somehow this isn't serious,'' Cameron said. "I think it is serious, when we're trying to bring up our children properly, they do see football players as role models.''
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