Luis Suarez: Public Enemy No. 1?

Story highlights

  • Luis Suarez hit with 10-game ban for biting by Football Association
  • Punishment appears out of proportion with in comparison with past bans
  • Pizza company offers customers chance to "bite Suarez's face"
  • In contention to win top player award voted by his fellow professionals on Sunday

Hated by the English Premier League champions, chastised by the UK's Prime Minister and even lampooned by a pizza company -- is Luis Suarez the number one enemy to English football?

If the Uruguayan had not already secured his place as the "Enfant Terrible" of the English game then he now has that role all wrapped up.

As Suarez sank his teeth into the flesh of Branislav Ivanovic, he put paid to the old adage of "once bitten, twice shy."

Read: Suarez hit with 10-game ban

No sooner had the Liverpool striker been handed a 10-game ban for his meal on Merseyside than the entire footballing world began a furious debate over the severity of the punishment.

"The FA should explain how they've come to 10 games," Rory Smith, football writer at The Times newspaper speaking before the FA released the reasoning behind their decision, told CNN.

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"If they've taken his past transgressions into account then that's understandable, but by not explaining they're allowing for lots of speculation and conspiracy.

"They could have given seven matches, which is the same as the Dutch FA so it would be interesting to see their reasoning.

"It's unusual for past offenses to be taken into account and perhaps there is a thought that they have something against Suarez.

"The problem they have now is that next time there is a reckless challenge which goes over the top of the ball and hurts a player, what are they going to do?

"Are they saying biting is worse?"

Read: Suarez bites opponent

Suarez is no saint. That much has been clear ever since that infamous handball at the 2010 World Cup which deprived Ghana of a place in the semifinal and earned him a red card and his country a place in the last four.

Then there was the episode where he was labeled as the "Cannibal of Amsterdam" after he was hit with a seven match ban for biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal's shoulder during a match in November 2010.

His reputation was tarnished further when he was given an eight-match suspension and a $63,000 fine after being found guilty by the Football Association of racially abusing Patrice Evra.

After Sunday's game, Suarez, 26, was quick to apologize for his antics and would have hoped for a lesser sentence.

But he appears to have found himself in the unenviable role of English football's hate figure.

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One company in the UK has even brought out a Suarez pizza where customers are invited to bite into his face, which is shaped with various toppings.

Read: Soccer stars behaving badly

The Uruguayan has won few friends outside of Anfield, despite riding high in the English Premier League goalscoring charts with 23 so far this season.

His constant niggling away at defenders, his penchant for diving around the penalty area and his often childish behavior has riled opponents and opposing fans.

But this latest incident, which occurred during last Sunday's 2-2 draw with Chelsea at Anfield has caused outrage both within and outside the realms of sport.

Such was the outcry at Suarez's actions that even British Prime Minister David Cameron felt compelled to offer his opinion on the matter.

"It is rightly a matter for the football authorities to consider," a Downing Street spokesman said.

"As part of their consideration, I think it would be very understandable if they took into account the fact that high-profile players are often role models."

Read: Does responsibility come with superstar status?

In a statement issued by the FA on Wednesday, the organization which runs the English game insisted that "a suspension of three matches was clearly insufficient and the player will serve a further seven first-team matches in addition to the standard three."

Liverpool, which has until midday on Friday to respond, has already criticized the decision and the severity of the ban.

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre told the club's official site: "Both the club and player are shocked and disappointed at the severity of today's Independent Regulatory Commission decision.

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"We await the written reasons tomorrow before making any further comment."

What rankles with many critics of the ban is that it appears out of proportion when compared to punishments handed out for similar offenses.

Writing on the CNN World Sport Facebook page, Jason Noblit said: "It should have been five games. No doubt he deserves to be punished, but the FA is too happy to demonstrate it has double standards for players like Suarez."

But others disagreed with Moustafa Ali adding: I think they gave him the right punishment , especially he has blemish record against other players like Evra and Bakkal."

During a Premier League game in 2006, Tottenham's Jermain Defoe was shown just a yellow card for biting Javier Mascherano, then playing for West Ham United.

Read: Suarez apologizes for Evra handshake snub

At the time, an FA spokesman said: "We are unable to take any action because the referee has already dealt with the incident.

"FIFA regulations prevent us from taking retrospective action."

Suarez's ban is also longer than that of former Manchester City defender Ben Thatcher, who was suspended for eight games after his elbow on Pedro Mendes left the player unconscious.

The FA also issued a further 15-match ban suspended for two years, while the club fined him six weeks wages and prohibited him from playing for six weeks

Suarez's ban is by no means the most severe handed out by the FA.

Read: Suarez fined, suspended over racist remarks

In 1998, current Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio was banned for 11 games after pushing a referee while playing for Sheffield Wednesday.

Five years later, Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand was suspended for eight months after missing a drugs test.

Another Manchester United star, Eric Cantona, was banned for nine months after launching a kung-fu style kick at a supporter during a game at Crystal Palace in 1995.

Di Canio, Ferdinand and Cantona all went on to enjoy successful Premier League careers, despite their off-field problems.

Suarez could yet follow suit with his name on the shortlist for the PFA Player of the Year Award -- voted on by his peers -- which will be handed out on Sunday.

And if he does pick up the prestigious trophy, you can be assured that there will be the gnashing of teeth around the football world.

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