MANCHESTER, England - Liverpool striker Luis Suarez will serve a 10-match ban for biting an opponent during a Premier League game after deciding on Friday not to appeal one of English football's harshest sanctions for on-the-field misbehaviour.
The Uruguay international won't be seen on a football pitch in England until September following his unprovoked attack on Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic that sparked widespread condemnation, including criticism by British Prime Minister David Cameron for setting an "appalling" example to youngsters.
"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 in a statement on his personal 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 deemed a regular three-match ban for violent conduct insufficient in this case, and an independent panel on Wednesday punished him with 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 behaviours do not have a place in football."
"While we accepted that Mr. Suarez's reputation had been impacted, these unsavoury 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 behaviour."
Suarez, the Premier League's second top scorer with 23 goals, could have lodged an appeal against the extra seven games. If unsuccessful, however, he risked the possibility of the FA extending his sanction for making a frivolous appeal.
He has apologized, and been fined by Liverpool, for biting Ivanovic's upper right arm in the second half of the 2-2 draw between Liverpool and Chelsea on Sunday.
"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 added.
Suarez's suspension will begin immediately, meaning he will miss the last four games of this season and the first six of the next. Liverpool is seventh in the standings and unlikely to qualify for Europe next season.
Despite his latest transgression — broadcast live to a global television audience — the headline-grabbing striker has been passionately defended by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers, other Premier League coaches and his teammates, who feel Suarez has been treated differently by the FA because of his past disciplinary record. Suarez has previously been suspended for seven matches for biting an opponent in a Dutch league game in 2010 and also for 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 offence 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, who said on Thursday the punishment had been given "against the man rather than the incident," added in the statement that the club had to "move on and support Luis in his decision."
Cameron said Friday that he welcomed the tough sanction on one of English football's most high-profile players.
"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.
"I've read in some newspapers, who think somehow this isn't serious," Cameron added. "I think it is serious, when we're trying to bring up our children properly, they do see football players as role models."