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Luis Suarez Banned Eight Matches, Club Responds

Update: Liverpool has responded. They're not happy. A few excerpts:

LFC considers racism in any form to be unacceptable - without compromise. It is our strong held belief, having gone over the facts of the case, that Luis Suarez did not commit any racist act. It is also our opinion that the accusation by this particular player was not credible - certainly no more credible than his prior unfounded accusations.

It appears to us that the FA were determined to bring charges against Luis Suarez, even before interviewing him at the beginning of November. Nothing we have heard in the course of the hearing has changed our view that Luis Suarez is innocent of the charges brought against him and we will provide Luis with whatever support he now needs to clear his name.

Earlier: The statement from the FA, in full:

An Independent Regulatory Commission has today [Tuesday 20 December 2011] found a charge of misconduct against Luis Suarez proven, and have issued a suspension for a period of eight matches as well as fining him £40,000, pending appeal.

On 16 November 2011, The Football Association charged Luis Suarez with misconduct contrary to FA Rule E3 in relation to the Liverpool FC versus Manchester United FC fixture on 15 October 2011.

A hearing took place from 14-20 December 2011 before an Independent Regulatory Commission of The FA to consider the charge.

The Independent Regulatory Commission announced its decision on 20 December 2011, which is as follows:

Mr Suarez used insulting words towards Mr Evra during the match contrary to FA Rule E3(1);
the insulting words used by Mr Suarez included a reference to Mr Evra's colour within the meaning of Rule E3(2);
Mr Suarez shall be warned as to his future conduct, be suspended for eight matches covering all first team competitive matches and fined the sum of £40,000;
the [penalty] is suspended pending the outcome of any appeal lodged by Mr Suarez against this decision.
The Independent Regulatory Commission will provide written reasons for its decision in due course setting out:

(a) the findings of fact made by it;

(b) the reasons for its decision finding the charge proved; and

(c) the reasons for the penalty.

Mr Suarez has the right to appeal the decision of the Independent Regulatory Commission to an Appeal Board. An appeal must be lodged within 14 days of the date of the written reasons for the decision.

The penalty is suspended until after the outcome of any appeal, or the time for appealing expires, or should Mr Suarez decide not to appeal. The reason for this is to ensure that the penalty does not take effect before any appeal so that Mr Suarez has an effective right of appeal.

So now we wait for the club's response, which will likely include some sort of confirmation as to whether or not they plan to appeal the decision. Given the events surrounding the farcically-managed situation, I can't imagine they wouldn't. If they do, the ban wouldn't start for two weeks' time, but if they opt to allow the ban to go unchallenged, it would mean that Suarez is ineligible starting tomorrow against Wigan and extending through the Bolton match in January.

We'll also have to wait for the report to be released by the FA, but if everything we've heard in the run-up is accurate, it looks like they've set out to make an example of Luis Suarez and ignored any mediating factors---lack of evidence beyond he-said, he-said and supposed cultural context being the most frequently cited. And for a player who's been so vilified in recent weeks, one of the biggest concerns is that this is the straw that broke the camel's back, and life in England, whether or not he likes being at Liverpool, isn't in his best interests.

Back in awhile to look ahead to tomorrow's match, but it's hard to feign any sort of "oh well" about this.

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