In the last post we wrote about how Liverpool’s Luis Suarez had been handed an eight match ban by the English FA for racist comments made to Manchester United’s Patrice Evra. While most thought Suarez would be found guilty many, including us, wondered about the severity of the punishment. Eight games is a long time in a busy footballing period and it wasn’t particularly clear whether Suarez’ intent was malicious or naive.
However, following the release of the FA’s comprehensive report on the incident on New Year’s Eve (why?), it has become pretty clear why the FA has handed down this punishment. Evidence given by Suarez and Evra conflicted somewhat but in the end it was clear enough that Evra’s testimony was the more reliable. According to the report the incident on the pitch went as follows:
Evra (after being kicked): Why did you kick me?
Suarez: Because you are black.
Evra: Say that to me again. I’m going to punch you.
Suarez: I don’t speak to blacks.
Evra: I’m going to punch you.
Suarez: OK, blackie, blackie, blackie.
Suarez then gestures at Evra’s skin
Evra: Ref, ref, he just called me a fucking black.
After the match Evra told his manager, Alex Ferguson, what had happened and Ferguson followed exactly the correct procedures by heading straight to the referees room to report the incident. The FA then took control of the investigation, resulting in a pretty comprehensive report and the eight match ban.
Suarez’ explanation of his use of the word ‘negrita’ (blackie) as a friendly term was completely undermined by the tone of the player’s conversation and the intensity of any match between Manchester United and Liverpool. One would hope that Liverpool and Kenny Dalglish will now back down in this matter and stop insisting on Suarez innocence. For his part, Suarez has said he will not be using that word again, at least in this country.