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 misbehavior.
"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. Suarez, one of the league's most high-profile players, could have lodged an appeal against the extra seven games. If unsuccessful, he risked the possibility of the FA extending his sanction for making a frivolous appeal.
The Uruguay international has apologized, and been fined by Liverpool, for biting Branislav Ivanovic's upper right arm during a 2-2 draw with 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 widespread condemnation of his actions, broadcast live to a global television audience, the striker has been passionately defended by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and 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.
"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."
British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Friday that Suarez, the league's second highest scorer with 23 goals, has set an "appalling" example to youngsters by biting a fellow player and welcomed the tough sanction.
"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."
The FA statement reads: "A three-person Independent Regulatory Commission upheld The FA's claim that a suspension of three matches was clearly insufficient and the player will now serve a further seven first-team matches in addition to the standard three.
"The suspension begins with immediate effect and applies to Liverpool FC's next ten domestic first-team fixtures.
"This sanction followed an incident with Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in Sunday's fixture at Anfield (21 April 2013).
"The FA intends to publicise the Independent Regulatory Commission's written reasons in due course."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.