Luis Suárez has defied the Football Association's view that biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic warrants more than a three-match ban, less than 48 hours after apologising for his "inexcusable behaviour" at Anfield.
The Liverpool striker has accepted the FA charge of violent conduct and will discover his fate when an independent regulatory commission convenes on Wednesday. Yet despite issuing a public and private apology to Ivanovic for his actions on Sunday, and condemnation from Liverpool's managing director, Ian Ayre, Suárez does not accept his punishment should exceed the automatic three-game penalty.
Suárez received a seven-match suspension from the Dutch FA in November 2010 for biting PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal. The 26-year-old could receive a similar penalty for his repeat offence after the FA announced the standard ban was "clearly insufficient" and appointed a three-man panel to handle the case.
Liverpool fear Suárez's chequered career in English football and pressure from the prime minister David Cameron's spokesman, who called on the FA to make an example of the striker, will culminate in a considerable ban that sidelines their leading goalscorer into next season. The panel can take into account the eight-match suspension Suárez received last season for using racially abusive language towards Patrice Evra when deciding its verdict.
Suárez's stance may be a pre-emptive attempt to reduce the severity of his punishment and raises the prospect of Liverpool appealing against any ban they feel is excessive. But it again exposes the club to allegations of indulging the Uruguay international regardless of his indiscretions.
In a statement the FA said: "Luis Suárez has accepted a charge of violent conduct, following an incident with Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in Sunday's fixture at Anfield. However, Suárez has denied the FA's claim that the standard punishment of three matches is clearly insufficient for this offence. The incident was not seen by the match officials and has therefore been retrospectively reviewed. An independent regulatory commission will hear the case tomorrow, Wednesday, 24 April."
The Liverpool striker may end the season banned but as the winner of the PFA Player of the Year award after the union's chairman, Clarke Carlisle, confirmed there was no prospect of Suárez being withdrawn from the six-man shortlist following Sunday's bite.
Clarke clarified: "It's not possible. The Player of the Year award is voted on footballing merit alone. This isn't club man of the year or most well behaved player. It's voted for by the players on football ability. A couple of years ago Ched Evans was in the Team of the Year, he was subsequently sent to prison for rape and we made the decision to stand because the vote was taken well before he got into the trouble and it was on footballing ability alone.
"If we were to change that now because Luis Suárez has bitten someone then that would be a terrible message to send out. We've made that distinction, it's about footballing ability alone, it's voted for by his peers and that's going to remain."
Suárez's notoriety has caught the attention of former world heavyweight boxing champion, and confirmed biter, Mike Tyson. Tyson infamously took a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear during their 1997 WBA title fight and started following Suarez on Twitter on Sunday to "see what his journey was all about." He told the David Glenn radio show in America: "He [Suárez] bit someone, it happens. I am sure he will make amends with this guy. I made amends with Evander and we got on with our lives."
Meanwhile, Liverpool have announced they are to honour Steven Gerrard's outstanding service to the club with a testimonial this summer. The match, that reunites Gerrard against his former Champions League conquests Olympiakos, will be held at Anfield on Saturday 3 August will all proceeds going to charity.
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