Downing Street puts pressure on Liverpool to drop Suarez
Liverpool was under pressure to drop its most celebrated striker today, after Downing Street waded into the row over his behaviour during a 2-2 draw against Chelsea.
Luis Suarez bit Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic on the arm during yesterday's game, triggering outrage on the front and back pages of the press and demands that he should be dropped from the club.
Football authorities should take into account the fact that "high profile players are often role models", a spokesperson for the prime minister said.
Asked to expand on the prime minister's view, the spokesperson said: "I don't propose to nibble further at questions [on this].
"I think the implication is fairly clear."
The carefully worded statement shows Downing Street wanted to put pressure on football authorities to clamp down on this type of behaviour, amid signs of a return to violence among fans.
The comment will push Liverpool towards dropping the player or at least banning him for a significant number of matches.
So far, the club has acted quickly to try and draw a line under the incident, in direct contrast to its much-criticised response the last time Suarez was in trouble – for racially abusing Patrice Evra.
This time, the club fined its star striker, with the undisclosed sum going to the Hillsborough Family Support Group.
"I've spoken to Ivanovic on the phone so I could apologise directly to him," Suarez tweeted. "Thanks for accepting."
He added: "For my unacceptable behaviour the club has fined me.
"I have asked the club to donate the money to the Hillsborough Family Support Group for the inconvenience I have created to the Liverpool fans and to Ivanovic."
Suarez has also been offered anger management therapy by the Professional Footballers' Association.
Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre said the incident did not threaten Suarez's career at the club.
"It affects his future in the sense that we have to work with him on his discipline," he commented.
The Football Association will review the match official's report into the game and incident before deciding what course of action to take.
Merseyside police do not intend to take any action as Ivanovic has not reported the incident.
Suarez was previously given an eight-match ban and fined £40,000 for racially abusing Manchester United's Evra in December 2011.
Liverpool will be under increased pressure to do something about the incident after signs of a return to football violence over recent weeks.
Altercations in Wembley and the streets of Newcastle recently brought back memories of the 'bad old days' of hooliganism.