A brief look at the controversial topic of Suarez v Evra.
Since Luis Suarez's arrival at Anfield in January 2011, to say he's had his ups and downs would be an understatement. A player with unquestionable ability yet marred in controversy.
As a Liverpool fan, I'll attempt to look at the racism case he's found himself at the centre of without bias. His impact on the pitch has been massive for Liverpool FC, his pace, movement, aggression and raw talent has seen him terrorise defences up and down the country. Even Manchester United felt him in full swing at Anfield earlier this year as he ran rings around title winning defenders.
However, even before he arrived in England, Suarez had been dividing opinions. His handball, sending off and subsequent celebrations when Asamoah Gyan missed the penalty in the World Cup in 2010 were seen around the globe. In November 2010 he was given a 7 match ban for biting Otman Bakkal's shoulder while playing for Ajax against PSV Eindhoven.
The most prolific incident (in England) was at Anfield in October when Liverpool played out a 1-1 draw with Manchester United, after which Patrice Evra complained that Suarez had racially abused him. After months of delays, Suarez has been handed an 8 match ban and a £40,000 fine after being found guilty. The main issue with this is whether or not he is guilty. Before I cite points that indicate the 8 match ban is harsh, I'll say that if Suarez was racist towards Patrice Evra then he deserves a punishment and the FA are perfectly within their right to come down on him, or any player found guilty of racism, like a ton of bricks.
Despite this, there are several points which point to a lack of evidence to reach a proper conclusion. It always struck me as bizarre that during the match Evra was booked for dissent after an altercation with Suarez. Now, if Suarez had racially abused him then, would Evra not have mentioned this to the referee at the time? Furthermore, it was only upon Sir Alex Ferguson's prompting at the final whistle that Evra decided to mention it.
At this point Liverpool were about to take a corner, meaning there were a lot of bodies in the United box, yet no-one except Evra heard the apparent racial abuse?
After the match Suarez apparently admitted to calling Evra 'negrito,' which Evra's teammates reportedly also call him. This lead to a debate about cultural differences between Uruguay and other Hispanic nations and the United Kingdom. If this was the case, it was naive of Suarez to use the word, but as far as he is aware it is not an offensive term. 'Negrito' is a term of endearment in Spanish, as is the female equivalent 'negrita'. There is even a drink sold in almost every alcohol outlet in Spain called Negrita.
To me, this proves the cultural differences. This would never ever be sold in the UK, but in Spain and other European nations it's widespread. For the record, it's quite tasty!
It seems as if the FA want to show their hand here, and make an example of Luis Suarez, an already controversial figure in English football now. But with all this, is an 8 match ban a fair outcome? Liverpool FC do not think so, and shortly after the punishment was given to Suarez, issed a strong statement. In their statement they mention the fact Patrice Evra himself does not think Suarez is a racist, and the FA themselves "accepted that Luis Suarez was not a racist." This being the case, how has an 8 match ban been the outcome?
Racism is a disgusting plague on the football world, but did Luis Suarez racially abuse Patrice Evra? If he did, only stubborn Liverpool fans will argue the ban is unjust, but on this lack of evidence and cultural differences can such a punishment be justified? It will now be extremely interesting to see how the FA deal with the John Terry case. All eyes on them.