Race row not an issue for deadliest rivals -- Ferguson
Alex Ferguson has broken Manchester United's silence on the eight-game suspension handed down to Luis Suarez for racially abusing Patrice Evra by claiming the English FA is right to ban the Liverpool forward.
Liverpool have reacted furiously to the sanction imposed on Suarez, with a strongly-worded statement issued by the club in response to the verdict casting doubt on the credibility of United defender Evra as a witness.
Despite Liverpool's anger at the outcome of the disciplinary hearing, which was triggered by Evra's allegations of racist abuse following the 1-1 draw at Anfield on October 15, Ferguson has insisted United have no quarrel with Liverpool over the matter. But the United manager reiterated the belief within Old Trafford that the FA was correct with its findings and subsequent punishment of Suarez.
"Our support of Patrice was obvious, right from the word go and that's still the same. The matter is over and I think we're satisfied that the FA have found the right decision," Ferguson said. "It's not about Manchester United and Liverpool at all. This is an individual situation where one person was racially abused."
The continuing delay in the publication of the written findings of the independent commission has added to the febrile atmosphere surrounding the case.
But Ferguson admitted United were forced to endure a similar period of uncertainty when Evra was suspended for four games by the FA in December 2008 following a post-match incident with a groundsman at Chelsea.
"Patrice got that suspension for the incident down at Chelsea when no one was there, just a groundsman and our fitness coach," Ferguson said. "He got a four-match ban and we had to wait two weeks for the evidence to come through. We were quite astounded at that ourselves. To get a four-match ban for that, we thought, was well over the top for a trivial incident."
Depending on the outcome and timing of Suarez's likely appeal, the former Ajax forward, who continues to await the outcome of an improper conduct charge for allegedly making an obscene gesture at Fulham supporters earlier this month, could be serving his suspension when United and Liverpool clash at Old Trafford on February 11.
But despite the raising of the temperature between Old Trafford and Anfield in the wake of Suarez's suspension, Ferguson insists that the United v Liverpool fixture will not be affected by the fallout from the case.
He said: "It doesn't take a lot to remind everyone that this is the biggest derby game in the country. Things may change the more successful Manchester City become, but it (United v Liverpool) has never needed anything to light the powder keg. It's always there." (© Daily Telegraph, London)