Friday 23 February 2018

Liverpool launch stinging attack on FA as Suarez begins suspension

Mark Ogden

Luis Suarez began his eight-match suspension last night for racially abusing Patrice Evra after the Liverpool forward and his club issued astonishingly belligerent statements criticising the punishment meted out by the English Football Association.

Suarez, who missed the Premier League clash with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium after accepting his suspension prior to the game, claimed he would serve his ban with the "resignation of someone who hasn't done anything wrong". And Liverpool proved equally damning of the three-man independent commission which found Suarez guilty of abusing Manchester United defender Evra by suggesting, in a forceful 574-word statement issued with full knowledge and support of the club's American owners, that the panel was "highly subjective" when reaching its verdict.

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.

"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." Despite the accusatory tone of Liverpool's statement, the FA declined to respond to the comments from Anfield last night, with sources at Wembley understood to be keen to avoid a futile war of words with the Merseyside club.

Further action against Liverpool is unlikely, with the FA now judging the matter to be closed due to the club's decision not to appeal the ban.

Despite the hugely detailed, and at times damning, written findings of the independent commission, which were released publicly on New Year's Eve, Liverpool's defiant stance remained unchanged last night.

Dalglish said: "We stand alongside Luis Suarez as the football club has always done for people we respect and appreciate for their efforts.

"The club has made quite a comprehensive statement, Luis has made a brilliant statement so we'll stand right beside him.

"That's all I'm prepared to say; there's plenty more I would love to say but I don't think I should go there."

Suarez was found to have called Evra 'negro' seven times during the United game three months ago and judged to have given "unreliable" evidence at his hearing. Liverpool remained keen last night to question the reliability of Evra as a witness, however.

The Liverpool statement said: "Mr Evra was deemed to be credible in spite of admitting that he himself used insulting and threatening words towards Luis and that his initial charge as to the word used was somehow a mistake.

"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." The damage to Suarez's reputation was evident during the fixture against City, with the home fans chanting "Where's your racist gone?" once the teams appeared on the pitch.

Suarez, who is likely to be eligible to face United at Old Trafford on February 11 after returning from suspension against Tottenham at Anfield on February 6, insisted that, despite admitting to using the word 'negro,' he did not racially abuse Evra.

The Uruguayan forward 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." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport