Rodgers defends Suarez in first press conference since bite ban

The Liverpool manager has stood behind the Uruguayan forward following his 10-match suspension, and believes the punishment is based more on the individual than the crime
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has expressed his support for under-fire Luis Suarez, who he believes has been harshly treated by the Football Association following his 10-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.

In his first press conference since the FA announced the punishment, Rodgers told reporters that he was shocked by the length of the ban, which he believes is down to the striker's controversial reputation.

You can read the full transcript of the press conference here:

"Of course we were very shocked and bitterly disappointed, not so much at the ban.

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"I think everyone that had seen it, what had happened - and none more so than ourselves and Luis, in all fairness - were very open and honest to know what he did was wrong.

"I think it's the severity of the ban which has hurt most, and that's something we're bitterly disappointed in.

"I think it's one you can only compare with similar incidents that we've had, and I'm sure you guys in the media will know that over the course of these last couple of years there's been two incidents of this type of scenario, and both of them 2006.

"One player [Jermain Defoe] received no ban and actually was continued to be chosen by the FA as a part of the England squad, and the second player received a five-game ban.

"So as you can imagine whenever Luis Suarez receives a 10-game ban, then it's obviously very, very difficult for us to understand, more so for Luis, because this is a guy who has genuinely been trying to curb his behaviour and change all his natural instincts from a young boy growing up when his mentality has been about winning.

"He's grown up in a country and an environment where that's so valuable, and this year, for me, he has done a brilliant job, and I've seen that close hand which is why I've been always at the forefront of looking to defend him.

"Whenever he hasn't, him and I have spoken and he's understood that, but for him to receive that [ban], as I said, when the comparisons of similar instances are somewhat different, then that's what is very hard to take.

"For me, I can't help but look at it, and look at the sanction that's been put on Luis for the incident, and I honestly feel that the punishment has been against the man, rather than the incident.

"That's my underlying feeling in it all. I think of course there was a lot of euphoria around the time it happened... but whenever you come away from it and you look at the cold light of day and assess it, then it's violent conduct.

"The football club admitted it, Luis admitted it, he understood he needed to be punished, but I think what we've got is a punishment with absolutely no intention [of aiding] the rehabilitation of the player, and that's what's disappointing.

"Maybe you need a bit of help. The player needs a bit of help and that's something we'll look to provide here as a football club, and our supporters and our city, and something that I would expect any football club or business to do.

"I believe if I had half a dozen more players with a similar mentality then we would be in a different position as a football club.

"He hasn't let me down one bit. He's a player that, as I about said the standards that are set at the club, he fell way below those at the weekend, because this is a football club that's based on that respect and [those] standards.

"But that doesn't mean he should be thrown to the garbage, which is what has happened with a lot of people in these last couple of days, and it's certainly something I won't be prepared to do.

"He's a boy that's working tirelessly, him and his family, to fit in to the life and the way it is in this country, and unfortunately for him he's made a mistake and he's got a sanction that I don't believe fits what he did.

"What I do know at this moment in time, having spoken a lot with him and spent a lot of time around him, is he's visibly very, very disappointed.

"This is something that he knows is clear. It's out there what he did, and he expected a punishment and I think he'd hoped that he would supported in a rehabilitation process that allows him not to do it again.

"But I look at his face and for the first time since I've arrived here I see a genuine guy who's bitterly disappointed.

"It'll take a wee bit of time for him to reflect. It'll take a bit of time for him to try to understand why other cases, people have never been punished, some have got a smaller punishment.

"He's still very much part of the Liverpool family, he's still very much part of our future, and very much, even though he's not playing, he's going to be very, very important going forward in order for us to succeed.

"I think if you look at lots of South American players, they do whatever it takes to win.

"We look here in this country, we'll go to these European Championships and World Cups and we'll come back and people will say that our teams aren't as streetwise as some of these South American teams and other groups, as this is the way they've been brought up.

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"They've been brought up to fight for their lives, to win, and Luis epitomises that. It's the same traits that he showed on Sunday that make him the player that he is, and that's what we can't forget either.

"The world class player and talent that he is, that has wowed many people with his quality, which has been breath-taking this year.

"I asked Luis what was he thinking, and he couldn't answer it. It's very much impulsive.

"It's something we've seen in many sports. We've seen in it this sport various times. People react in different ways. You see tennis players, if something happens and they smash their racquet and they do something that maybe doesn't fit with their character or their game.

"This is something that you can't explain. This is just an impulsive inherent thing that just came in that moment.

"The biggest thing for us is to try to help and make sure it doesn't happen again.

"What I'm saying is, is in modern life, whether you're a football player, a plumber, a joiner, a bricklayer, you work in a warehouse, you're not immune to your issues and problems, especially if you're a footballer.

"Because you might have a bit more money than someone else, it doesn't rule out that sometimes there might be something clinical that is wrong with someone.

"All we're saying is that whatever the issue is - the behavioural issue - we will do everything we can to support that person and that person now is Luis Suarez.

"I [thought] it was probably going to be three games.

"Listen, it could have been 12 games, but with six games suspension and then six suspended, and looking at his future behaviour. I don't think anyone could have argued with that."