Luis Suarez has been banned for 10 games over biting Branislav Ivanovic, to much surprise at the severity of the punishment by Liverpool and other commentators. It's difficult to see where that comes from - Suarez was banned for seven games for the same crime before, albeit by a different FA, and this is a repeat offence. It is not a ban without precedence, either: Joey Barton was once given twelve games for violent conduct. The other reason many seem surprised by the length of the suspension is that it is longer than he received for racial abuse: but nobody ever went broke underestimating the FA's competence in sticking to their own message and effectively combatting racism.
That last point is, of course, the biggest problem: the FA have immediately sent out the signal that biting somebody is worse than racism, simultaneously reducing the crime of racist abuse as if it were merely unsportsmanlike, but one suspects that those in charge of English football don't really understand that a racial epithet is really any worse than a four-letter word. It's idiotic, a PR disaster, and once again the actions of the organisation have failed to match the bluster and marketing.
The fault lies, however, not in the length of the current ban. It is in no way disproportionate, compared to the other offences of a similar nature the FA will punish. There's been talk of "making it up as they go along", as though people expect there to be a hitherto-overlooked section of the laws of the game that stipulates what to do when someone starts gnawing at someone's ulna.
Rather, the problem was with the initial punishment lacking in any real conviction, a throwaway decision made without thought to any problems it may throw up in future. In the same way that prisons are used by society just because they're there, without any serious thought as to what purpose they serve or what benefits they bring, the FA wields the punishment of match bans.
It's also notable that the FA shamefully apologised for Suarez "not being a racist", rather simply racially abusing someone, as though there were any distinction to be made. But in drawing the distinction between the crime of racism and the actual act of it, the FA prioritises the latter - bringing the game into disrepute. This is what 'trial by media' really means - the FA are concerned with the image of themselves and that of the game, and act accordingly to back up their own brand. The actual structural problems are, for them, never going to be worth engaging with.
They key point is, however, that none of their incompetence excuses Suarez. You may well feel that a dangerous tackle or biting an opponent is not as serious as racism, but there was nothing disproportionate about a ten-game ban.
The ludicrous suggestions that xenophobia is at play here are neatly countered by the Barton example, which also lays out the reason for people believing Suarez is being victimised: like Barton, he had previous form. If it was about xenophobia, then Sergio Aguero would find himself out of action too for his shocking 'tackle' on David Luiz in the FA Cup Semi-Final, but once again, the notion that one unrelated oversight elsewhere exonerated Suarez is the logic of a four-year-old.
The FA may lash out wildly for those who have a reputation, but it all comes under the parcel of protecting their image. The best way to counter it might be to stop giving them so much ammunition. The old line in Medieval Europe was that only witches need fear witch-hunts. That may not have been true, but it's certainly a fact that only those who bite people need fear disproportionate bans for biting people.