Date: 21st December 2011 at 8:46pm
Written by:

Race to the ball. That's all it should ever be.

It’s a shame, but if it had to happen, I really wish that this whole Luis Suarez “is he racist/is he not racist” soap opera didn’t involve my club.

The ignorance of some has clouded the judgement of many who, unbelievably, think that their player has only been punished for what he said because he said it against a United player.  And others have said that United fans are jumping on the PC bandwagon, and wouldn’t care if it was against anybody else.

SO wrong, and SUCH an early 1990’s view.

There are many instances where it’s admirable to stick by your team, your player’s and anyone connected with your club through whatever circumstances.  It’s called loyalty and there’s many occasions where you will argue, in context with the current issue, that black is white.

But there is a line.

There is a point where even if you love a player more than the wife and kids, if there’s the chance he’s done anything wrong you have to at least acknowledge that.  You can still stick by him, offer him your unconditional support, and sing his name if you go to the next home game.  But all that, coupled with club should not mean you swear blind that you’re club are being victimised again.

Murky waters

I can easily see that, upfront, this situation isn’t that clear cut from an evidence point of view.  Everyone knows that.  The whole “You can’t see it on TV so it didn’t happen” thought process is as laughable as it is shallow.  No-one else on the pitch heard it…but counter that with the fact that if you’re going to wind someone up, and you don’t want to get caught, you’re tactful about it aren’t you?

Liverpool mentioned in their statement: “…when no-one else on the field of play – including Evra’s own Manchester United team-mates and all the match officials – heard the alleged conversation between the two players in a crowded Kop goalmouth while a corner kick was about to be taken.”  Liverpool need to remember their self titled “hostile atmosphere” could have added to that problem, should any comment have been made.  And let’s think back to ’s Robin van Persie’s sending off against Barcelona last season.

One piece of evidence that’s conveniently ignored by some is quite key, and starts to add clarity to the drama.  It’s been reported a number of times since the accusation, but there’s some definite selective hearing and reading going on:

Luis Suarez admitted that he called Patrice Evra “El negrito”. 

It all becomes a little more black and white now, doesn’t it?

Ok, so if those reported admissions are true, and it seems to be widely accepted that they are with no denial from Luis Suarez….then we’re still a bit confused because this whole “cultural differences” thing comes in to play.

There’s the notion that Suarez calling Evra what he did isn’t considered to be racist in his native country.  Something which seems to be clearly true and you can hand a small piece of benefit of the doubt to him for this, and there are a lot of cultural differences between South America and Western Europe.

But Suarez had been in England for ten months.  You would have thought…no, ignore that…you KNOW he was fully aware of the Kick It Out campaign that he and his peers are involved in as a professional footballer, and you also know he will have realised the ‘dos’ and ‘donts’ of England in that time.

Prior to his transfer to Liverpool, he’d captained Ajax Amsterdam.  He’d been at that club since 2007, and spent a year with Groningen of the Netherlands prior to that.  That’s five years he’s been in Europe, where racial remarks are looked down upon, and I can’t for the life in me think that he’s missed the boat with that one.

So…how is he ‘guilty’?

For me, if he has used this “it’s not like that in my country” stance as his defence for his ‘el negrito’ comment, then I’m afraid it’s too weak after living almost a fifth of his life in Europe.  And excuses aren’t a powerful tool when you’re under investigation.  I’m presuming that he did use it as was one of the main subjects of hiss defence, and if so it now starts to un-ravel as to how the guilty verdict came about.

It’s also worth noting that there hasn’t been one ounce of regret from Suarez for his ‘accedental insult’.  The pure defensive, we shall fight this to the hilt attitude from Suarez, his club and his manager smacks of desperation and guilt, and when you’re weighing up a verdict, I would guess that goes against you.  Had Suarez come out and said something like: “If I offended Evra, I’m sorry.  I did speak to him, but did not intentionally offend him, and I regret that” – then the whole “It’s not like that in my country” thing becomes a bit stronger.  But he didn’t.  And it didn’t.  You see, one thing you can see on the TV is that Suarez said something to Evra, which riled him judging by his reaction.

Boot on the other foot?

After 2010, I wanted United to sign the Uruguayan.  I thought he was class and I still do…I said to my Liverpool supporter mates when he joined them that I thought he would be the signing of 2011 in the Premiership.  I still think that.

But had we have signed him, and he’d done what he’s just been charged with, I’d still have supported him as our player, cheered his name but felt disappointed and wished he hadn’t done it, felt embarrassed about it.  He’d have gone down in my estimation a bit maybe, and I could still count him as one of ‘us’ – with a stern view that he must never do it again.

Unfortunately, I don’t see many Liverpool fans doing that, as I stated at the beginning of the piece.

Ignorance and has clouded right from wrong here, and you only need to gauge the conversations and comments from BOTH fans to realise that we’re using the issue to go to war again.  We don’t need to do that, we’re the two most important teams in the world who play the most important match of the season.  United v Liverpool.

But I do believe that the FA have done the right thing this time…IF they have set a precedent…something they’re not very good at.

Follow me on Twitter: @stevecrab

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