War of words: The breakdown
Published 02/01/2012 | 05:00
Evra: 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 touched Evra's arm, gesturing at his skin.
Evra: Ref, ref, he just called me a f***ing black.
suarez's version of events
Evra: Why did you kick me?
Suarez (shrugging): It was a normal foul.
Evra: I'm going to kick you.
Suarez: Shut up.
Suarez then touched Evra's arm in a pinching-style movement.
Evra: Don't touch me, South American.
Suarez: Por que, negro (Why, black?)
The commission said he was a credible witness. It found that he gave his evidence in a calm, composed and clear way. It was for the most part consistent. The confrontation, when Liverpool were preparing to take a corner, began with Evra asking Suarez why he had kicked him on the knee in a tackle.
His evidence was unreliable in relation to matters of critical importance. It was, in part, inconsistent with the contemporaneous evidence, especially the video footage. He said he pinched Mr Evra's skin in an attempt to defuse the situation. He also said his use of the word negro to address Evra was conciliatory and friendly. The commission rejected that evidence, saying: "To describe his evidence in that way was unsustainable and simply incredible given that the players were engaged in an acrimonious argument. That this was put forward by Suarez was surprising and seriously undermined the reliability of his evidence on other matters." The commission also said that Suarez's words, which included a reference to Evra's colour, were insulting. "The use of insulting words which include a reference to another person's colour on a football pitch are wholly unacceptable."
Suarez said it is a word often used in Uruguay as a friendly form of address to people who are black or brown-skinned. Language experts said that context was crucial and that, in an argument such as he had with Evra, it would have been seen in Uruguay and other South American countries as offensive. The Commission noted that, in the course of the confrontation, Suarez had used "the words negro or negros seven times. He did so both before and after the referee told the players to calm down. Suarez addressed Evra as negro. He also made other derogatory comments using the word".
Suarez ought to have known the word was unacceptable, particularly in view of the FA's campaign to eliminate all forms of racism from the game, and he said he would not use the word on a football pitch again. Evra accepted that Suarez is not racist.
When told Evra's version of what had happened and that it would be put into the referee's report, Liverpool's manager said, "hasn't he done this before?", causing Phil Dowd, the fourth official, to stop and think whether Evra had previously been involved in such allegations. Dalglish's comment is believed to have been a reference to the unproven allegation of racism made against the Chelsea groundsman, Sam Bethell, although it was United's assistant manager Mike Phelan and the goalkeeping coach Richard Hartis who claimed to have heard the word "immigrant" used in that incident at Stamford Bridge.
Liverpool's director of football, who speaks Spanish, said in his evidence that he felt something had been lost in translation of the word negro in the way that Evra had interpreted the remark.