Defiant Liverpool attack FA again as Suarez accepts ban
Published 22:32 03/01/12 By David Maddock
Liverpool have launched a final attack on the FA – even after confirming they will not appeal Luis Suarez’s suspension.
The club finally ended the racism row that has rocked football by accepting their striker’s eight-match ban – but not before again questioning the credibility of the governing body.
And the Uruguayan himself claimed: “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.”
In a statement that spoke of the need to end the controversy to enable the fight against racism to continue, the Anfield club also repeated the idea of a conspiracy against their South American striker.
They accused the three-man FA disciplinary panel that heard the charge of racism against Manchester United’s Patrice Evra of making a “subjective” decision in its “determination to prove its conclusions”.
The club angrily continued to maintain the player’s innocence, with a strongly-worded statement, that contained a reference to American sport, suggesting it had come straight from the US owners.
They conceded the row had damaged football’s image, and for that reason, declined their right to appeal.
But the wording of the statement may well provoke a response from the FA, particularly the suggestion of a conspiracy, which risks a disrepute charge.
“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 statement read.
“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 of the Premier League’s best players, deciding he should be punished and banned for perhaps a quarter of a season.
“This case has also provided a template in which a club’s rival can bring about a significant ban for a top player without anything beyond an accusation.
“The facts in this case were that an accusation was made, a rebuttal was given and there was video of the match. The remaining facts came from testimony of people who did not corroborate any accusation made by Mr Evra.”
Accepting the ban meant Suarez was not available for Tuesday night's game against Manchester City.
But it also now means the striker will likely be available to return on February 11 – which just happens to be the date of the Reds' visit to Old Trafford for a potentially explosive encounter with United.
The player himself has remained unrepentant and insisted he would serve the ban while believing he has not done anything wrong.
In a statement, he said: “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.
“I will carry out the suspension with the resignation of someone who hasn’t done anything wrong and who feels extremely upset by the events. I do feel sorry for the fans and for my team mates whom I will not be able to help during the next month. It will be a very difficult time for me.”
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish maintained his support of Suarez.
He said before the defeat at City: “We stand alongside Luis Suarez, as the football club has always done for people that they respect and people they appreciate for the efforts they have given to the club.
“The club have made quite a comprehensive statement; Luis has made a brilliant statement. So we’ll stand right beside him.
“And that really, without getting myself into trouble, is all I’m prepared to say.”
The FA will now take a long look at Liverpool’s statement to see if the continuing questions raised about the credibility of the disciplinary committee constitutes an offence.
While the FA made no public statement in response to the comments of Liverpool and Suarez, Wembley chiefs privately reacted with stunned incredulity.
The lack of contrition, let alone apology, was seen as petulant by the FA, who feel they have been entirely vindicated by the full written reasons for the eight-game ban.
But they are likely to take into account the club’s insistence that the fight against racism is more important that the fight for their own player, which was delivered in the second half of the statement.
“Continuing a fight for justice in this particular case beyond today would only obscure the fact that the club wholeheartedly supports the efforts of the Football Association, the Football League and the Premier League to put an end to any form of racism in English football,” it read.
“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.”