Anti-racism group leads fresh calls for apology from Anfield
Liverpool were under mounting pressure last night to issue an apology for Luis Suarez's conduct against Manchester United's Patrice Evra in the game which has brought him an eight-game ban -- and to withdraw any plans to appeal the decision of an independent regulatory commission which found the Uruguayan used the word "negro" or "negros" seven times in a two-minute period of the Anfield match.
Liverpool maintained a steadfast silence on the commission's report yesterday and, 72 hours after the exhaustive and apparently watertight reasoning was delivered to them, have not moved beyond a holding statement declaring their intent to digest the contents.
While the report clears the Uruguayan of racism, the picture it paints of club personnel altering statements to fall in line with Suarez's explanation of why he used the word "negro" -- in contravention of FA rule E3(1) -- is an embarrassing one which will sit uncomfortably with the club's owners, Fenway Sports Group.
On the one occasion Suarez addressed Evra's claims in public, he declared that "depending on who ends up in the wrong, one of us will have to apologise." His club's reputation is being done no service by the absence of one.
Piara Powar, executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE), a network of anti-racism groups on the continent, yesterday led calls for the club to change their stance.
"Luis Suarez and Liverpool FC have the right to appeal," Powar said. "However, we would call on the club to think again about their public campaign to dispute the charges and contest the principles involved in the case. As a club with a good international standing the vehemence of their campaign is unquestionably causing them reputational harm."
Liverpool have been given until January 13 to respond, meaning Suarez will be free to play in their next three games, including their Carling Cup semi-final, first leg trip to Manchester City on January 11. If he admits to the offence now, four of the games he misses could be cup fixtures, providing Liverpool progress past Oldham Athletic to the FA Cup fourth round on Friday. (© Independent News Service)