Luis Suárez, the Liverpool striker, has been handed a 10-match suspension for biting the arm of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic during a Premier League game on Sunday.  A statement by the Liverpool managing director said that "both the club and player are shocked and disappointed at the severity of today's Independent Regulatory Commission decision. We await the written reasons before making any further comment."  Suárez will miss the remaining four games of the season and the first six matches of the next campaign, putting him out until October, though he is expected to appeal the length of the suspension. 

The 26-year-old Uruguayan star had issued an apology for his actions shortly after the match on Sunday, saying he was "deeply sorry for my inexcusable behavior earlier today during our match against Chelsea."  Suárez had originally been given a three-game suspension for violent conduct, a punishment which the Football Association called "clearly insufficient". 

The office of British Prime Minister David Cameron also appeared to urge stricter punishment for the striker.

"It is rightly a matter for the football authorities to consider," said the prime minister's spokesman. "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."

The Guardian reported that Liverpool was standing behind the striker.  The club's manager had warned him after the incident on Sunday that no player was irreplaceable.  But Ian Ayre, the managing director, told the paper that the bite would not have any bearing on Suárez's future with the team. 

"It affects his future in the sense that we have to work with him on his discipline but Luis is a very important player to the club," Ayre said.  "He's a very popular player with his team-mates. As we keep saying, he signed a new four-year contract last summer and we'd all love to see him here throughout that contract. He's a fantastic player, top scorer and everything we'd want in a striker'.

The incident was Suárez's latest brush with controversy.  In 2010 he was banned for seven matches by the Dutch Football Association for biting Otman Bakkal of PSV Eindhoven, which earned him the nickname of "the Cannibal of Ajax".  In 2011, he received an eight-match ban and a £40,000 fine for allegedly using racist language in an argument with Manchester United's Patrice Evra. 

Sports Illustrated noted that for recent parallels, one might have to turn to other sports.  England international James Graham, a rugby player, was recently banned for 12 games for biting an opponent during an Australian League game. 

Suárez is on the six-man shortlist for English football's Player of the Year award, which was released before Sunday's incident.