LONDON: Liverpool, angrily displaying a chip on their corporate shoulder, have reluctantly accepted the eight-game ban on Luis Suarez for having made racist comments to Patrice Evra in the October clash with Manchester United.
The Uruguayan forward was handed the suspension by the Football Association on December 20, after a lengthy investigation, as well as being given a £40,000 fine, while the independent regulatory commission’s 115-page report was released on New Year’s Eve.
assessed the findings, Liverpool have notified the Football Association they will not contest the ban – which took effect immediately and ruled him out of the Premier League visit to Manchester City.
An official FA statement read: “Liverpool FC have this afternoon informed the FA that they will not be appealing the decision of an Independent Regulatory Commission in relation to the recently proven misconduct charge against Luis Suarez. Suarez will be suspended with immediate effect for a period of eight matches, starting with this evening’s fixture against Manchester City.
“Suarez was also fined £40,000 and was warned as to his future conduct.”
Liverpool and manager Kenny Dalglish had been resolute in their support for Suarez and the players – cont roversially – even wore Suarez T-shirts in the warm-up before their match against Wigan last month.
Despite deciding not to appeal, the club released a statement on their official website making their dissatisfaction with the case clear. “Liverpool Football Club have supported Luis Suarez because we fundamentally do not believe that Luis on that day – or frankly any other – did or would engage in a racist act,” it read.
“Notably, his actions on and off the pitch with his team-mates and in the community have demonstrated his belief that all athletes can play together and that the colour of a person’s skin is irrelevant.”
The statement from Liverpool said: “It is our strongly held conviction that the Football Association and the panel it selected constructed a highly subjective case against Luis Suarez based on an accusation that was ultimately unsubstantiated.
“The FA and the panel chose to consistently and methodically accept and embrace arguments leading to a set of conclusions that found Mr. Suarez to “probably” be guilty while in the same manner deciding to completely dismiss the testimony that countered their overall suppositions.
“In its determination to prove its conclusions to the public through a clearly subjective 115-page document, the FA panel has damaged the reputation of one the Premier League’s best players, deciding he should be punished and banned for perhaps a quarter of a season.”
The statement went on to make clear Liverpool’s continued commitment to anti-racism measures in football.
“English football has led the world in welcoming all nationalities and creeds into its Premier League and its leagues below, and Liverpool Football Club itself has been a leader in taking a progressive stance on issues of race and inclusion,” it continued.
“The Luis Suarez case has to end so that the Premier League, the Football Association and the club can continue the progress that has been made and will continue to be made and not risk a perception, at least by some, that would diminish our commitment on these issues.
“It is time to put the Luis Suarez matter to rest and for all of us, going forward, to work together to stamp out racism in every form both inside and outside the sport. It is for this reason that we will not appeal the eight-game suspension of Luis Suarez.”
Suarez issued a statement in which he thanked Dalglish, his team-mates and fans as well as his family for their support. He also rejected any suggestion, saying: “Never, I repeat, never, have I had any racial problem with a team-mate or individual who was of a different race or colour to mine. Never.
“I am very upset by all the things which have been said during the last few weeks about me, all of them being very far from the truth.
“But above all, I’m very upset at feeling so powerless whilst being accused of something which I did not, nor would not, ever do.
“In my country ‘negro’ is a word we use commonly, a word which doesn’t show any lack of respect and is even less so a form of racist abuse.
“Based on this, everything which has been said so far is totally false.”
Even so, Suarez’s defence of the term ‘negro’ suggests that foreign players need guidance about British society as well as their next opponents in the Premier League.