Liverpool teammates back Luis Suarez
LONDON -- Luis Suarez's lawyer announced plans Wednesday to appeal his eight-game suspension for racial insults toward Manchester United's Patrice Evra, and his Liverpool teammates publicly backed the Uruguay striker.
Alejandro Balbi, who is Suarez's lawyer and agent, told reporters in the player's home country that he would appeal.
"The counts of racism that were made against him are not true," Balbi said.
He said Suarez "is very affected" by the English Football Association's ruling but is also "calm because of the massive support of the club, the coach, his teammates and his captain."
Before Wednesday's match against Wigan, Liverpool's players and manager Kenny Dalglish appeared wearing white T-shirts featuring Suarez's picture.
They also released a statement expressing their anger at the FA's punishment, which included a $62,000 fine.
"Luis Suarez is our teammate and our friend and as a group of players we are shocked and angered that he has been found guilty by the FA," Liverpool's players said in a joint statement. "We totally support Luis and we want the world to know that. We know he is not racist. ... We have lived, trained and played with Luis for almost 12 months and we don't recognize the way he has been portrayed."
The FA accepted Evra's allegation that Suarez directed a racial insult at him during United's Premier League match at Liverpool on Oct. 15. If the appeal is rejected, the FA could increase the suspension.
Suarez started in Liverpool's game at Wigan on Wednesday with his punishment from the FA's independent three-man panel on hold pending any appeal.
"We will continue to support Luis through this difficult period, and as a popular and respected friend of all his teammates, he will not walk alone," the Liverpool players said, referencing the club's anthem.
Balbi noted that the only evidence taken into account by the FA disciplinary panel was "the word of Evra," a fact that Liverpool also emphasized Tuesday in defense of the player.
Suarez has also received support from his Uruguay teammates.
"I can't believe it. It's a big error that is being committed," Uruguay captain Diego Lugano said. "It's obvious that England has a problem with racism that they are trying to eradicate -- and that's fine -- but this decision does not have solid arguments. Luis is a victim. I don't understand how a player like Evra can do this.
"We all know the kind of person Luis is and the values he has. We are all very hurt. When one of our teammates is suffering, we all suffer. The only thing left is to support him and be with him."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press