Suarez’s defence ‘harming Liverpool’

LIVERPOOL’S campaign of support for Luis Suarez is harming its international reputation, according to anti-racism campaigners.

Striker Suarez was last month found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s defender Patrice Evra in a match on October 15, last year, and banned for eight matches.

At the weekend, the Football Association (FA) published a 115-page report listing the reasons behind the judgment of an independent commission, in which it said Suarez had used the words “negro” or “negros” seven times in a two-minute period of the Anfield clash.

The finding is potentially embarrassing for the Anfield club, which has been unwavering in its support of the 24-year old Uruguayan international.

The Liverpool players wore t-shirts showing their support for Suarez before last month’s game against Wigan the day after he received the ban, a gesture that was heavily criticised at the time, while manager Kenny Dalglish tweeted that fans should not let him walk alone.

But the Executive Director of Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) – a network of anti-racism groups in the continent, Piara Powar, believes it is time for the club to change its stance.

“Luis Suarez and Liverpool FC have the right to appeal, however, we would call on the club to think again about their public campaign to dispute the charges and contest the principles involved in the case,” Powar said.

“As a club with a good international standing, the vehemence of their campaign is unquestionably causing them reputational harm.”

The FA’s case, according to the report, was that Evra asked Suarez why he had kicked him, to which the forward replied: “Because you are black.” When Evra challenged him to repeat the answer and said he would “punch him,” Suarez said: “I don’t speak to blacks.”

According to the report, Evra then told Suarez he was going to hit him, to which the Uruguayan international replied in Spanish: “Dale, negro, negro, negro.” That translates to: “Okay, blackie, blackie, blackie.” Powar believes that racial abuse between players remains an “unspoken taboo” in the English game, and hopes the Suarez case will prove to be a watershed moment.

“The Football Association’s published judgement from the Suarez-Evra incident is welcome,” Powar said. “It appears the FA have taken their time to initiate a process that was both fair in its implementation of football rules, and in accordance with the principles of British justice.

“As an international non-governmental organization, we think the investigation and judgement sets the bar for governing bodies globally.

“Racial abuse between players on the field of play has been an unspoken taboo for too long, an area that has been unsatisfactorily dealt with by English football despite many cases over the past 10 years.”

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Suarez’s defence ‘harming Liverpool’