The verdict has been reached by The FA in the case of Luis Suarez regarding the alleged racist comments made by the Liverpool striker against Patrice Evra in the Liverpool against Manchester United match from October 15. Suarez has been handed an eight match ban and £40,000 fine after The FA charged him with misconduct. The sentence is suspended pending the outcome of whether Liverpool want to appeal the charge or not.
I’ve purposefully avoided writing about the topic of the Suarez case until now because, frankly, I don’t believe it had anything to do with football. It was an incident that happened on the pitch but had nothing to do with the game that we follow. Plus, it’s an incredibly thorny topic that is complicated by a lack of evidence in the public domain as well as cultural and language differences. To come out either for or against Suarez would have been, I believe, unfair unless we were able to review the evidence that The FA had seen.
Of course, I don’t think that racism should have a place in this sport either on or off the pitch, but now that a conclusion has been reached, the ramifications will have an impact on football. I believe that the Anfield club will appeal the sentence and will hope for a reduction of the ban as well as some sort of penalty for Evra who is also accused of using insulting words. But a lot of the next steps will depend on what The FA’s Independent Regulatory Commission reveals when they explain their findings, their reason for its decision and the reasons for the penalty.
The Suarez case is undoubtedly a serious issue, but I believe the verdict is even more of a sore point for Liverpool supporters because the game was against Manchester United. If it had been any other club, the penalty would have been the same but it just hurts more when it’s their arch-rival. I’m sure some Liverpool fans feel a sense of injustice because Manchester United may have gotten away with it again, and if the tables had been turned then Manchester United would not have received as severe a punishment. That’s quite possible, but it doesn’t change the fact that this is a verdict that Liverpool fans are incensed by, while Manchester United fans are already gloating about the decision.
Liverpool, the club and its fans, may feel that they’ve been unfairly treated in this case, but it’s one of those controversial topics where it’s hard for Liverpool or Manchester United supporters to be objective regarding the decision. Liverpool fans will feel that Suarez has been persecuted and is being made an example of. Manchester United fans will feel it’s the right decision. But for those of us who are in the middle, myself included, who don’t support either club, it’s more complicated. We’re stuck in the middle because there’s not enough evidence to sway us one way or the other.
Did Luis Suarez act inappropriately? I believe he did based on the little evidence that has been made available. Did Evra act inappropriately too? I believe he did, but yet again, I’d like to better understand why The FA’s independent committee ruled the way they did before knowing whether The FA’s sentence is fair or not.
It’s a messy topic, and it’s one that I would rather wish had not happened at all. But it has, and the decision has been made. And now we have to wait to find out what the consequences will be pending the appeal.
The story is far from over, and I believe will continue to simmer long into the future as long as managers Kenny Dalglish and Sir Alex Ferguson are in business. This is something that Dalglish, in particular, will not forget anytime soon, and he’ll want his vengeance by knocking United off its perch. Whether that will happen or not is a tall order, but I wouldn’t put it past Kenny Dalglish.