Backed by Liverpool squad, Suarez to appeal ban
The lawyer for Luis Suarez announced plans Wednesday to appeal against the striker's eight-game ban for racially insulting Manchester United's Patrice Evra, while his Liverpool teammates publicly backed their teammates in a statement.
Alejandro Balbi, who is Suarez's lawyer and agent, told reporters in Uruguay about the plans to appeal just as the forward was getting ready to play in Liverpool's 0-0 draw at Wigan in the Premier League.
The English Football Association also fined Suarez 40,000 pounds ($62,000), but the Uruguay forward can continue playing until the appeal process reaches its conclusion.
''The sanction has two items, the games suspension and the monetary. It will be a total appeal,'' Alejandro said.
''The counts of racism that were made against him are not true,'' Balbi added. ''He firmly believes that this harsh sanction can be overturned.''
He added that Suarez ''is very affected'' by the English Football Association's verdict, but is also ''calm because of the massive support of the club, the coach, his teammates and his captain.''
Before Wednesday's match against Wigan, Liverpool's players and manager Kenny Dalglish appeared at the ground wearing white T-shirts featuring Suarez's picture.
They also released a statement expressing their anger at the FA's punishment, which also saw Suarez fined 40,000 pounds ($62,000).
''Luis Suarez is our teammate and our friend and as a group of players we are shocked and angered that he has been found guilty by the FA,'' Liverpool's squad said in a joint statement. ''We totally support Luis and we want the world to know that. We know he is not racist ... we have lived, trained and played with Luis for almost 12 months and we don't recognize the way he has been portrayed.''
The FA, though, accepted Evra's allegation that Suarez had directed a racial insult at him during United's Premier League match at Liverpool on Oct. 15. If the appeal is rejected, the FA could increase the suspension.
''We will continue to support Luis through this difficult period, and as a popular and respected friend of all his teammates, he will not walk alone,'' the Liverpool squad said, referencing the club's anthem.
Balbi highlighted that the only evidence taken into account by the FA disciplinary panel was ''the word of Evra,'' a fact that Liverpool also underlined Tuesday in defense of the player.
Suarez has also received support from his Uruguay teammates.
''I can't believe it. It's a big error that is being committed,'' Uruguay captain Diego Lugano said. ''It's obvious that England has a problem with racism that they are trying to eradicate - and that's fine - but this decision does not have solid arguments. Luis is a victim. I don't understand how a player like Evra can do this.
''We all know the kind of person Luis is and the values he has. We are all very hurt. When one of our teammates is suffering, we all suffer. The only thing left is to support him and be with him.''
Another Uruguay teammate, Napoli's Walter Gargano, described the situation as a ''barbaric fiasco.''
''Now we've got to get behind Luis more than ever,'' he told Uruguay radio station 1010 AM.
Associated Press writer Ariel Gonzalez and Raul Garces in Montevideo, Uruguay contributed to this report.