Truth: Luis Suarez called Patrice Evra “negro” during a game between Liverpool and Manchester United. Suarez admitted that he called Evra this but insisted that he meant it in a “conciliatory” way. Independent language experts confirmed that “negro” wasn’t always used as a racist insult in Uruguay and that it could be used between friends without being abusive. The same experts also confirmed that “negro” was still a term of abuse in Uruguay if used between people that weren’t friends. With footage showing Suarez kicking Evra in the knee, slapping him around the back of the head and pinching his arm, in probably the most heated and hate-filled fixture in English football, Suarez’s defence was rightly deemed totally unbelievable and he was banned for eight matches.
Suarez’s version: “It was so hard what happened to me. I don’t show my emotions in the field, you know, but outside I do it I cried a lot with all the Evra stuff. People at the club are sure that it was a way that Man United used to put me out of the team and stop Liverpool.”
Conclusion: Even if you were to assume that Manchester United were capable of making a player call Evra “negro” and then make that player admit it to the FA, in a bid to stop a team, they probably would have targeted a Manchester City player, rather than Suarez, who played for a team that finished 37 points behind United in 8th place.
Truth: In Suarez’s first game against United after being banned for racially abusing Evra, he refused to shake Evra’s hand. After the game, Suarez told the club’s website: “I have spoken with the manager since the game at Old Trafford and I realise I got things wrong. I’ve not only let him down, but also the Club and what it stands for and I’m sorry. I made a mistake and I regret what happened. I should have shaken Patrice Evra’s hand before the game and I want to apologise for my actions.” Liverpool’s Managing Director, Ian Ayre, also apologised on Suarez’s behalf. “We are extremely disappointed Luis Suarez did not shake hands with Patrice Evra before yesterday’s game,” he told the club’s website. “The player had told us beforehand that he would, but then chose not to do so. He was wrong to mislead us and wrong not to offer his hand to Patrice Evra. He has not only let himself down, but also Kenny Dalglish, his teammates and the Club. It has been made absolutely clear to Luis Suarez that his behaviour was not acceptable. Luis Suarez has now apologised for his actions which was the right thing to do. However, all of us have a duty to behave in a responsible manner and we hope that he now understands what is expected of anyone representing Liverpool Football Club.”
Suarez’s version: Several months later Suarez claimed that it was Evra who was at fault and that he had been set up. “Before the match against Man United, I promised my wife, the manager and the directors that I was going to shake my hand with Evra,” he said. “Why not, I thought, because I had no problems with him. I had been punished because of him, but I had no problems with shaking hands. But I was not forced to greet him. It was only a handshake and I was OK with that. But it was a misunderstanding, what happened between me and Evra at Old Trafford. In fact, I think it was all arranged against me again, as it had happened with the punishment. The media in England showed the moment when I passed in front of him, but they didn’t see that he had his hand low before. Only the media in Uruguay but also in Spain showed that I wanted to shake his hand. But in England, Man United has this political power, and you have to respect that and shut your mouth.”
Conclusion: Both the club and player apologised for Suarez’s decision to refuse to shake Evra’s hand. Suarez then attempted to re-write history and again blame Manchester United for something he did.
Suarez just isn’t right in the head. For whatever reason, he believes he can behave however he wants and try and convince people that he is totally innocent. When he was banned for seven games for biting someone when he played for Ajax, you had to wonder about his mentality. Players can do far worse damage with mistimed challenges, but we should remember that tackling is part of the game. There’s no room for players biting each other. They’re not toddlers.
For Suarez to bite someone again a couple of years later, Ivanovic, surely should leave us to worry about his mental state. That’s just not normal, is it. What kind of grown man bites someone? Twice? It’s utterly bizarre.
Still, having spent two and a half seasons at Liverpool, finishing 6th, 8th and 7th, he is understandably ready to move. He’s too good to be playing for a club with no realistic ambitions of even playing in the Champions League, let alone winning it, so wants off. He’s managed to drag Liverpool’s reputation through the dirt, with his racial abuse, diving and biting, and now he wants to play for a better club. So what does he do? Blames it on someone else, as per usual.
“My reason for leaving is my family and my image, I don’t feel comfortable here any more,” said Suarez. “It is a difficult moment for me, my coach and my colleagues know that they [the British media] didn’t treat me well. All the silly things they said, all the pictures, all the taunts. That happened every day and nobody [in the press] supported me. They talk about me being named the best player in England but I knew that wasn’t going to happen because of the way they treated me. And the straw that broke the camel’s back was my mistake [biting Branislav Ivanovic]. I accept it was my fault, but they went too far.”
If the press didn’t criticise Suarez for racially abusing someone and repeatedly biting people, then what would that say about them? Whilst Liverpool supporting journalists like Sid Lowe and Sachin Nakrani have embarrassed themselves with their Suarez coverage, you’d have to agree that any half decent journo would condemn any player for behaving like Suarez has. If Suarez doesn’t want the media to report on his outrageous behaviour, then maybe he should consider changing how he behaves? Maybe he shouldn’t racially abuse people, or bite people, or admit to diving? It’s not rocket science.
Some Liverpool fans will now be busy burning his shirt, but others are defending him yet again, feeling sorry for their poor little victim, who has been forced out of playing for the club he loves and likely having to settle for Real Madrid or Bayern Munich. Poor lad.
But if ever there was a player and club made for each other, it is Suarez for Liverpool, with his ability to behave in a totally shameful way and then blame someone else for it.