“There are three sides to every story. Yours, Mine and the cold, hard truth.”
It wasn’t long after the publication of the pictures of Patrice’s Evra’s bust up with Chelsea groundsman, Sam Bethell, that stories emerged explaining the incident to be one of a racist nature.
Whilst Bethell insisted it was “handbags”, both Carlos Tevez and Gerard Pique told a different story to the press. Tevez spoke of a “grave insult” in Evra’s direction, whilst Pique confirmed our player had been provoked.
At a later hearing, United’s Assistant Manager, Mike Phelan, as well as club captain, Gary Neville, who were also witnesses to the event, said Evra had received a racist insult.
Yet we’ve had plenty of rentboys on this blog defending their groundsman, which has left me completely baffled. If Frank Lampard or John Terry were the ones accused of racism, it would make sense. Of course you’re going to back your own players over your opposition’s, no matter how unlikely it was that your players were telling the truth. But a groundsman?
To suggest that all these people at United would lie about a racist assault is quite simply ridiculous and insulting. It’s one thing to defend Evra, but it’s something entirely different to fabricate a story of racism.
Evra is no angel in this scenario. Whatever was said to him, of course the FA would be right to expect Evra to be the bigger man and rise above it, as a professional. If your mate down the boozer was abused, you’d fully support them having a crack at the racist, and whilst I have no big issue with Evra choosing to go for someone who called him an immigrant, I understand why the footballing authorities would. Regardless, I find it incredible that CFC are suggesting that Evra, Tevez, Pique, Neville and Phelan have sat down together and decided to falsely accuse someone of making a racist comment. There’s no need for it. Whatever Bethell said to him, it won’t get Evra off the hook for swinging at him just because the comments were of a racist nature, so there would be nothing to gain from United’s perspective to make this up. Whilst Chelsea wouldn’t want their record book blotted with another accusation of a racial attack from one of their staff to an opposing player.
What confirmed it to me was Chelsea’s admission that something was said, claiming Bethell called Evra a “fucking idiot”, not “fucking immigrant”.
Say those two words out loud now. How alike do they sound? They begin and end with the same letters, but you’d have to be pretty hard of hearing to confuse the two. To suggest that five men all misheard “idiot” as “immigrant” is laughable.
The side we hear from Chelsea is that United were performing their ‘warm down’ session in an area of the pitch that the groundstaff weren’t happy with. It was as they stood there, with their lawnmowers at the ready, that the scuffle broke out. “Are you not supposed to cut the grass before the game?” questioned Sir Alex Ferguson. Indeed. Why the Chelsea groundsmen were mowing the lawn after the game and why they were so offended at where our players were warming down just adds further suspicion to the whole thing.
Regardless, this unfortunate situation has rumbled on far too long already, when you consider the event took place on April 26th. With Chelsea now being charged by the FA for not keeping their groundsman in check, the hearing that was supposed to take place this week has now been delayed to next month. They will argue that they didn’t fail to ensure that Bethell conducted himself in an orderly fashion and refrained from using racist, abusive and provocative language.