The FA have handed Liverpool striker Luis Suarez a 10-game ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in Sunday’s Premier League match.
Suarez pleaded guilty to a Football Association charge of violent conduct on Tuesday but rejected the governing body’s claim that an automatic three-match suspension was "clearly insufficient".
A three-man independent regulatory commission met on Wednesday to decide the Uruguay international’s fate and upheld the FA’s assertion that further punishment was warranted. Liverpool have until 12pm on Friday to appeal against the punishment.
In a brief statement on the club website, managing director Ian Ayre said: "Both the club and player are shocked and disappointed at the severity of today’s Independent Regulatory Commission decision.
"We await the written reasons tomorrow before making any further comment."
The 10-game ban is harsher than the eight-match suspension handed to Suarez in December 2011 for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, and significantly more than the four-game ban given to Chelsea captain John Terry last year for racist abuse.
QPR midfielder Joey Barton was given a 12-game ban last season, for a red card and violent conduct towards three players.
In 2006, the FA banned Manchester City’s Ben Thatcher for eight matches for an elbow incident that left Portsmouth’s Pedro Mendes unconscious.
A 10-match ban will see Suarez miss Liverpool’s remaining four games of this season and the first six domestic matches of the next campaign, potentially ruling the Uruguayan striker out until October.
Suarez had pleaded guilty to the charge of violent conduct but had denied the FA’s claim that the standard punishment of three matches was "clearly insufficient" for the offense.
The three-person regulatory commission included a former player and dealt with the case under the FA’s fast-track system.
It also appears that Suarez’s past has counted against him – the 26-year-old was banned for seven matches in Holland in 2010 when he sank his teeth into Otman Bakkal, and although that incident did not form any part of the FA’s case as it was in a different country, the commission had the discretion to take his personal disciplinary history into consideration.
The same approach was also taken in relation to deciding whether his eight-match racism ban should have any impact on the sanction for this case.
There is no standard minimum or maximum punishment for biting in football’s disciplinary code, unlike rugby union which has a 12-week recommended suspension for first offenses up to a four-year ban for the most serious biting offenses.
Suarez had apologized on Monday to Ivanovic, who suffered a bruised arm from the bite, and the Chelsea defender acknowledged the apology.
Liverpool moved quickly to deal with the latest crisis surrounding their star striker and imposed a club fine which is being donated to the Hillsborough families’ support group.
Suarez will remain eligible for the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award, for which he has been shortlisted, with the announcement on Sunday.