Here are the most interesting and important points from the 115 page document which explains why the decision was made to charge Luis Suarez with racially abusing Patrice Evra. (Or just scroll to the bottom where the key points from the report are summarised).
- The FA and Evra watched some video footage of the match. Evra pointed out to the FA, by reference to the video footage, when it was during the match that Suarez made the comments about which Evra had complained. This information enabled the FA to ask broadcasters to provide video footage. It contained material which was not broadcast, including footage of the exchanges in the penalty area in the 63rd minute taken from a number of different camera angles.
- The FA arranged to meet Suarez to obtain his account of what had taken place Suarez was accompanied by an interpreter from the Club . An independent professional interpreter was also present. On the same day, the FA also interviewed Kenny Dalglish, Damien Comolli, Ray Haughan (the Liverpool Team Administration Manager) and Kuyt. The interviews were recorded and transcripts were produced.
- The FA obtained signed witness statements from the following individuals: Evra, Marriner (the referee), Phil Dowd (the fourth official at the match), Sir Alex Ferguson, Ryan Giggs, Valencia, Hernandez, Nani, and Anderson. In the case of each of the Manchester United players who provided a witness statement, except for Mr Giggs, the statement was provided in the player’s native language and also in English, using the services of a professional translator.
- The FA instructed two experts, Dr Scorer and Professor Wade. The experts were instructed to prepare a written report on the linguistic and cultural interpretations of the words “negro” and “negros” in Rioplatense Spanish. The FA provided the experts with relevant materials, including 12 video clips of the match, the witness statement of Evra and the transcript of the interview with Suarez.
- Material which the FA had gathered or considered in the course of its investigation but on which it did not intend to rely was given to Suarez. The purpose of providing it to Suarez was to enable him and his advisers to examine the unused material to see whether, in their view, it was relevant and helpful to Suarez in defending the Charge. For example, the contents of a document amongst the unused material might be thought by Suarez and his advisers to be directly helpful in itself or to set them on a train of enquiry which might lead to their acquiring helpful evidence. The disclosure to Suarez of unused material is intended to achieve fairness and transparency in the process.
If Suarez did not intend his words or behaviour to be abusive or insulting, then he did not breach the Rule. Suarez would breach the Rule, according to his defence, only if he intended his words or behaviour to be abusive or insulting, or was aware that they may be abusive or insulting.
Thoughts of the commission
- The question is simply whether the words or behaviour are abusive or insulting. This is a matter for the Commission to decide, having regard to all the relevant facts and circumstances of the case. It is not necessary that the alleged offender intends his words or behaviour to be abusive or insulting in order for him to breach the Rule.
- The FA accepts that the Charge against Suarez is serious, as do we. It is for this reason that we have reminded ourselves that a greater burden of evidence is required to prove the Charge against Suarez.
What actually happened? – The goalmouth
- Evra said that he is not exactly fluent in Spanish but that he can easily converse in Spanish. Evra told us that he began the conversation by saying “Concha de tu hermana”. Evra’s evidence was that this is a phrase used in Spanish like when you say “fucking hell” in English.
- Evra claims that when he asked “Why did you kick me?”, Suarez replied “Porque tu eres negro”. Evra said that at the time Suarez made that comment, he (Evra) understood it to mean “Because you are a nigger”. He now says that he believes the words used by Mr Suarez mean “Because you are black”.
- Suarez said that he replied to Mr Evra’s question “Why did you kick me?” by saying “que habia sido una falta normal”, meaning “it was just a normal foul”. He said he shrugged his shoulders and put his arms out in a gesture to say that there was nothing serious about it. At this point on the video footage, Mr Suarez’s face is obscured, but he does appear to shrug his shoulders.
- Evra said that he followed up Suarez’s reply “Because you are black” by saying “Habla otra vez asi, te voy a dar una porrada”, which means “Say it to me again, I’m going to punch you”. Suarez replied by saying “No hablo con los negros”. Evra said that, at the time, he understood this to mean “I don’t speak to niggers”, although he now says it means “I don’t speak to blacks”.
- Suarez’s evidence was that Evra replied to the comment “it was just a normal foul” by saying “Ok, you kicked me, I’m going to kick you”. Suarez said in his witness statement that his response was “Le dije que se callara e hice un gesto breve con mi mano izquierda parecido a la mocion de un “pato cuando hace cuac” para indicarle que hablaba mucho y deberia callarse”, which was translated as “I told him to shut up and made a brief gesture with my left hand like a “quacking” motion as if to say he was talking too much and should be quiet”.
- Evra said that after Suarez said “I don’t speak to blacks”, he (Evra) said “Ahora te voy a dar realmente una porrada”, which means “Okay, now I think I’m going to punch you”. To this he says that Suarez replied “Dale, negro…negro…negro”. At the time, Evra understood this to mean “Okay, nigger, nigger, nigger”. He now says it means “Okay, blackie, blackie, blackie”. The expert witnesses stated that the phrase “Dale, negro” can be
understood as “Bring it on, blackie” or “do it, blackie” or “go ahead, blackie”. Evra said that as Suarez was speaking he reached out to touch Evra’s arm, gesturing at his skin. Evra said that Suarez was drawing attention to the colour of Evra’s skin. This gesture is clearly shown on the video footage, just as Kuyt comes
between them. It seemed to us that Suarez reached out and pinched Evra’s left forearm. In cross-examination, Evra said that at the time he did not realise that Suarez had pinched his arm. He was more focussed on his lips and what he was saying.
- Suarez said that at no point did he use the word “negro” during the exchange with Evra in the goalmouth.
- Evra’s evidence is that up to this point Mr Suarez had used the word “negro” or “negros” five times in the goalmouth: “Because you are black”, “I don’t speak to blacks” and “Okay, blackie, blackie, blackie”.
- When the referee blew his whistle to stop play, Evra and Suarez were standing close to each other, having just run and challenged for the corner. The referee called them over to him. Suarez said something to Evra, then started to walk away. There is a clear reaction by Evra to Suarez’s comment. This is apparent in two
ways. First, there is a facial reaction by Evra, akin to a look of surprise. Secondly, whilst looking at the referee, Evra points to Suarez. Evra walks towards the referee and says something while pointing back at Suarez. Evra’s evidence was that while he was walking towards the referee he said “ref, ref, he
just called me a fucking black”. He said that he did not know whether the referee heard his comment. The referee said something like “Calm down, Patrice, the game has been brilliant, stop the pushing between you and Suarez, the game is going well.”
- Suarez’s evidence was that simultaneously with the blowing of the whistle, Evra said to him “Don’t touch me, South American”. Suarez took this to be a reference to his touching Evra’s arm on the goal-line a few moments earlier. Suarez said that he turned to Evra and said “Por que, negro?”. He said that he used the word “negro” at this point in the way that he did when he was growing up in Uruguay, that is as a friendly
form of address to people seen as black or brown-skinned or even just black-haired. He said that he used it in the same way that he did when he spoke to Glen Johnson, the black Liverpool player. He said in no way was the use of the word “negro” intended to be offensive or to be racially offensive. It was intended as an attempt at conciliation.
- Marriner, the referee, was shown the footage of this incident at the hearing. Marriner said that he could not recall what was being said to him. He explained that he wanted to take control of the situation, that the game had gone “swimmingly” up until that point with no confrontation between any players, and he just wanted to get his point across to the players. He said that he told the players to get on with it, and calm down. That is why he took charge of the situation and really did not take on board what was being said to him. We found Mr Marriner’s account to be plausible and credible. The fact that Mr Marriner did not hear what Mr Evra said is not inconsistent with Mr Evra’s evidence.
What actually happened? – Evra is booked
- As the players moved upfield, there was an exchange between Evra and Kuyt. The referee called Evra over and gave him a yellow card. Giggs spoke to the referee about the caution and then spoke to Evra.
- Evra described the booking in the following way. Kuyt told him to stop diving so Evra pushed him away. The referee called Evra over to book him. Evra asked the referee why he was booking him and the referee said it was because he had pushed Kuyt. When he was being booked, Mr Evra told the referee again that he had been called black. Evra added that after booking him, the referee spoke to Ryan Giggs. Giggs then asked Evra what was wrong and Evra told him that he had been called black. Giggs told Evra to calm down and not get sent off.
- Giggs gave evidence before us. He said that he was reasonably close to the referee and after he had shown Evra the yellow card, Giggs approached the referee and asked him why he had booked Evra. The referee said to Giggs “just calm Patrice down”. It was obvious to Giggs from looking at Evra that he was upset. Giggs said to Evra “what’s happened?”. Evra replied “he called me black”. Giggs said to Evra “did the ref hear it?”, to which Mr Evra replied “I don’t think so”. Giggs then told Evra to calm down and not get himself sent off.
- Kuyt gave a slightly different version from Marriner, Evra and Giggs. He said that after the goal kick he was close to Evra and said “Come on, let’s move on, let’s keep going with the game” and touched Evra just on the arm. According to Kuyt, Evra reacted aggressively and smashed his arm away and at that point, the referee
having seen the incident, called Evra to him and booked him. Kuyt said he was “absolutely certain” that he heard Evra say that the referee was only booking him because he was black.
- We found the evidence of Marriner on this point to be credible and plausible. He recalled Evra telling him that he was being called black. This is consistent with Evra’s evidence of what he told Marriner at that time, and also with Giggs’ evidence of what Evra said to him shortly afterwards. In light of this, we reject Kuyt’s evidence that Evra said that the referee was only booking him because he was black. It would make no sense in the circumstances for Evra to accuse the referee of only booking him because he was black. Not only had Evra pushed Kuyt away, which he is likely to have realised had led to his booking, but his concern at that stage was that he had been called black (bearing in mind that, at the very least, Suarez admits having called Evra “negro” by this stage of the game).
What actually happened? – After the final whistle
- As the players went into the dressing room at the end of the game, Evra was really angry and upset. Valencia said he could see it. He explained that Evra is not normally angry after games. Evra said that he was angry because Suarez had insulted him. “I cannot remember exactly the words Evra used but he said that Suarez had said that he wouldn’t speak to him because he was black. I think the words Evra used
were words similar to “Negro, no hablas conmigo”.”
- Hernandez: “Although I was stood with the medical staff, I could clearly hear Evra as he was speaking loudly. He said that during the game, Suarez said to him words similar to “No voy a platicar contigo porque eres negro”. I understood from what Evra said that Suarez had been racially abusive towards him and that he had told Evra that he would not speak to him because he was black.”
- Nani: “He said that Suarez had said that he wouldn’t talk to him because he was black. When he said this in English I think he used the word “nigger” but in Spanish/Portuguese he used the word “negro” or “preto”, I cannot remember exactly which. Evra was also angry that Suarez had not been booked for saying what he did. Evra said something like, “This is a joke. How is it possible that the referee does nothing when he knows what happened?” Evra said that he had told the referee what Suarez said to him.”
- Anderson: “I cannot remember all the exact words Evra used but he told us that Suarez had said to him on the pitch that he wouldn’t speak to Evra because he was black. I think he used words similar to “no hablo con negro”.”
- Valencia and Anderson told Mr Evra that he must tell the manager and go and see the referee because this was serious. When Sir Alex Ferguson and Evra left the dressing room to go and speak to the referee, Valencia and Anderson followed them. They wanted to support Evra but they were not allowed into the referee’s room, only Evra and Sir Alex Ferguson went in.
- Evra said that he told the referee that Suarez had called him a nigger. According to Evra, the referee said to him “Oh, that is why you were talking about being called black”, referring back to what Evra had said to the referee on the pitch. Evra said “Yes.”
What actually happened? – When LFC found out about the accusation
- Ray Haughan is the Team Administration Manager at Liverpool FC. He gave a witness statement on behalf of Suarez. While he was standing outside the dressing rooms after the end of the game, he saw Sir Alex Ferguson and Evra go into the referee’s room. Sir Alex knocked on the door, which was not closed, and went in. Haughan told us that he heard Sir Alex say “I want to make a complaint because Suarez has called him (meaning Evra) a nigger five times.” Haughan thought that the Liverpool management should be aware of what was happening. He went to see the management, Kenny Dalglish, Damien Comolli and Steve Clarke.
- Comolli spoke to Suarez in Spanish. Dalglish said that, having spoken to Suarez, Mr Comolli explained to Dalglish that Suarez had said that Evra had called him South American and that Suarez had replied “Tu eres negro” which is “you are black”. Comolli reported the Spanish words to Dalglish, that is he told him that Suarez had said “Tu eres negro”, and then Comolli told Dalglish that this meant “you are black”. Suarez was still in the room when Comolli told Dalglish that Suarez had said “Tu eres negro” to Evra.
- Dalglish went to see Marriner and Dowd without Suarez. Marriner explained to Dalglish what had been reported to him by Sir Alex and Evra. Marriner said in his witness statement that Evra had told him that Suarez had said to him “I don’t talk to you because you niggers”, although Dalglish told us that he did not remember the referee saying that to him. Since Suarez accepted Marriner’s witness statement, we accept Marriner’s evidence that he said this to Dalglish.
- Dalglish said, “hasn’t he done this before?”. This was the evidence to us of Dowd. Dowd remembered this as it caused him to consciously stop and think whether he was aware of any previous allegation involving Evra.
What actually happened? – Canal+
- Comolli made reference to Mr Evra’s Canal+ interview. He said that a few hours after the game, he received telephone calls from Canal+ who said that Evra had been to see them in the tunnel after the game and said “I want to talk on TV. I want to report my record because I’ve been abused racially by Suarez ten times”.
- Evra served a supplemental witness statement to clarify the circumstances surrounding the interview he gave to Canal+. He said that as he is the only French player in the Manchester United team, Canal+ ask him to do an interview with them after every game. He usually agrees to the interviews and would probably agree to 25 out of every 30 requests. After the match, Canal+ asked Mr Evra for an interview as usual and he agreed. He said that he knew the Canal+ staff well and they could see that he was upset by something. He told them what had happened between Suarez and him during the game. Evra denied saying what Mr Comolli said he was told, namely that he wanted to talk on TV and report his record because he had been abused racially by Suarez ten times. He said that he specifically asked Canal+ not to ask him about the incident with Suarez during the interview. However, the interviewer did ask him about why he was upset with Suarez during the game. Evra decided to answer the question but was careful not to say exactly the words that had been used. He told us that he would have preferred for the interviewer not to ask him about the incident but journalists always ask whatever they like.
- The FA obtained from the Canal+ interviewer his account of what had happened. Stephane Guy, the interviewer, said that Evra answered the interviewer’s request for an interview. He said that as Evra is the only French-speaking player at Man United, the interviewer asks him each time that he covers the team’s matches. Noticing that he was very distressed coming out of the changing room, Guy first questioned Mr Evra off the record. It was then that Evra revealed what Guy described as “what has become the Suarez case”. According to Guy, it was his duty as a journalist to ask Evra the same question again on the record even if he was not spontaneously in agreement to talk about it.
- Evra added that when he answered the question, he mentioned that a word had been said to him ten times. He told us that he did not mean this in the literal sense, it was just a way of talking. It was just a figure of speech.
The language experts
- The experts who were instructed are Professor Peter Wade and Dr James Scorer. Wade is a specialist in race and ethnicity in Latin America, with particular emphasis on black populations, genetics and sexuality; he has also worked on the ties between Colombian national identity, popular music and race. He learnt his Spanish mainly in Colombia, has been a fluent speaker for nearly 30 years, and has experience of Spanish usage mainly in Colombia, Mexico and Spain. James Scorer works in the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies. His research focuses on Latin American cities, particularly urban politics and cultures in Buenos Aires, as well as on national and regional identities in Latin American cinema, including that of Uruguay. He learnt his Spanish predominantly in Buenos Aires, and has been a fluent speaker of Castellano for nearly 10 years.
- The word “negro” can have pejorative connotations, as it may be associated with low class status, ugliness, vulgar behaviour, noisiness, violence, dishonesty, sexual promiscuity etc. The word can be employed with the intent to offend and to offend in racial terms; often the word would be appended with further insult, as in the example “negro de mierda” [shitty black]. The word “negro” is by no means, however, always used offensively. The term can also be used as a friendly form of address to someone seen as somewhat brown-skinned or even just black-haired. It may be used affectionately between man and wife, or girlfriend/boyfriend, it may be used as a nickname in everyday speech, it may be used to identify in neutral and descriptive fashion someone of dark skin. Though these terms are often used between friends or relatives, they are not used exclusively so; thus, an individual might call out to a passer-by “ay, negro, querés jugar con nosotros?” [hey, blackie, do you want to play with us?]; in all cases, however, when the word is used in this way it implies a sense of rapport or the attempt to create such rapport; naturally, if the term were used with a sneer, then it might carry negative connotations.
- Evra stated that the goalmouth incident started when he addressed Suarez, beginning with the phrase “Concha de tu hermana”. According to the experts, the literal translation is “your sister’s cunt” and it can be taken as a general swear word expressing anger, although the word “concha” is not as taboo as the English word “cunt”. It is thus equivalent to “fucking hell” or “fuck me”.
- Assuming Suarez responded with “Porque tu eres negro”, this would be interpreted in Uruguay and other regions of Latin America as racially offensive. When the noun is used in the way described by Evra, it is not a friendly form of address, but is used in an insulting way: it is given as the rationale for an act of physical aggression (the foul), as if the person deserved such an attack since they are black.
- The sentence attributed to Suarez, “No hablo con los negros”, falls into the same category of racist usage. It assumes that the individual did not merit being talked to as he belongs to a whole category of people classed as black.
- If Suarez used the words “negro” and “negros” as described by Evra, this would be understood as offensive and offensive in racial terms in Uruguay and Spanish-speaking America more generally. The physical gesture of touching Mr Evra’s arm would also, in the context of the phrases used, be interpreted as racist.
- If Suarez used the word “negro” as described by Suarez, this would not be interpreted as either
offensive or offensive in racial terms in Uruguay.
- There are some black people in Uruguay and other areas of Latin America who object to the use of the word “negro” as a term of address, as they say it highlights skin colour when this should be irrelevant. This is the use of the word “negro” (ie as a term of address) which Suarez contended before us is acceptable, yet his view appears to be contentious with some in Uruguay and Latin America. Also, the use of the word “negro” can be seen as offensive or inoffensive in Uruguay and Latin America. It appears to depend, largely, on the context. It might be seen by some as inoffensive when used to address relatives, friends or passers-by. However, we note the experts’ comment that in all cases when the word is used in this way it implies a sense of rapport or the attempt to create such rapport; naturally, if the term were used with a sneer, then it might carry negative connotations. It is important to examine closely the context in which it is used, and the way in which it is used, in order to decide whether it is being used offensively and offensively in racial terms.
How to make a decision
This case is not simply about one person’s word against another. Whilst there were conflicting accounts of what happened which were presented to us by Evra and Suarez, there was other relevant evidence which we were able to take into account in reaching our decision. This other evidence included:
* video footage of the match
* the evidence of others as to what happened during or immediately after the match
* documentation in the form of the referee’s report which was based on conversations he had immediately after the match
* transcripts of interviews with the main protagonists and other witnesses conducted in the course of the FA’s investigation before witness statements were prepared for the purpose of this hearing
* the evidence given to us by other witnesses quite apart from Evra and Suarez, including expert witnesses on Spanish language.
We reached our decision on the basis of a consideration of the totality of the evidence attaching such weight as we considered appropriate to the different elements of it.
- It was accepted by both Mr Greaney (FA’s representative) and Mr McCormick (Suarez’s representative) in closing submissions that this is not simply a case of one person’s word against another.
- We found Mr Evra to be an impressive witness. He gave his evidence to us in a calm, composed and clear manner. Evra also demonstrated a measure of balance in his evidence and he was prepared to make a number of concessions before us. In giving his account of their exchanges in the goalmouth, Evra described how he started the conversation with the offensive phrase, “Concha de tu hermana”. He said this in his first interview with the FA on 20 October, and included it in his witness statement placed before us, even though it reflected badly on him.
- Suarez was not as impressive a witness as Evra. His answers were not always clear or directly addressed to the question. Whether this was due to language difficulties or evasiveness was not entirely clear and so, whenever we could, we gave Mr Suarez the benefit of the doubt. We were certainly more concerned by the substance of his evidence than by the manner in which he gave it.
Suarez and Dalglish’s inconsistencies
- The footage was not of any real direct assistance in terms of what was said by Suarez in the goalmouth. It was not possible to try and lip-read what Suarez said largely because his face was obscured at the crucial moments. However, the video footage did shed considerable light on the sequence of events and the way in
which Evra and Suarez acted towards each other.
- Evra started the encounter in the goalmouth, albeit Evra was in shock (as he put it) and responding to Mr Suarez having fouled him five minutes previously. Evra opened the conversation with the offensive phrase, although Mr Suarez did not hear the words he used at the time. Evra was the initiator of this confrontation. He was clearly angry with Mr Suarez. Suarez responded in kind. His facial expression was hostile towards Evra, he was speaking forcefully to him, he looked Evra up and down and then reached out and pinched Evra’s bare left forearm. This was an unpleasant and petty gesture which appeared designed to aggravate Evra, and was likely to have that effect.
- The referee spoke to both players. They listened and then walked away. As they did, Suarez put his hand on the back of Evra’s head. There are, of course, many ways of touching an opposing player with the hand. Some are obvious attempts at conciliation such as a handshake or sometimes a pat on the back. Others are intended to further aggravate the opposing player whilst, perhaps, being made to appear like an attempt at
conciliation. In our judgment, Suarez placing his hand on the back of Evra’s head fell into the latter category. It appeared calculated to wind him up and had that effect, which is shown by Evra forcefully pushing Suarez’s arm away.
- Having said in his witness statement that he was trying to defuse the situation when he touched Evra’s left arm in a “pinching type movement”, Suarez eventually answered, after persistent questioning, that he was not trying to calm down the situation by doing so. It was plain to us that Suarez’s pinching of Evra’s arm was not an attempt to defuse the situation. It could not conceivably be described in that way. In our judgment, the pinching was calculated to have the opposite effect, namely to aggravate Evra and to inflame the situation.
- Whilst Suarez had, in his interview with the FA, said that he had used the word “negro” towards Evra in a “friendly and affectionate” way, the first time that he used the words “conciliation” and “conciliatory” was in his witness statement. This was signed after Suarez had received the experts’ report which referred to the possibility that Suarez’s use of the term was intended as an attempt at conciliation. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Suarez used the words conciliation and conciliatory to describe his use of the word “negro” because the experts had used those terms to describe the circumstances in which the word would not generally be offensive in Uruguay.
- What is more significant, in our judgment, is the substance of Suarez’s evidence that his use of the word “negro” with Evra “was intended as an attempt at conciliation” and “was meant in a conciliatory and friendly way”. The whole episode in the match starting with Suarez’s foul on Evra, and continuing with their encounter in the penalty area was confrontational and hostile. In the goalmouth, Evra fired the first verbal assault and Suarez responded in a hostile fashion judged by his demeanour as shown on the video footage and his pinching of Evra’s skin. When the referee blew his whistle to stop play, it was less than 10 seconds after the pinching in the goalmouth. This is when Suarez claimed to have used the word “negro” for the one and only time. The players’ demeanour, as shown in the video footage, showed that the exchanges continued to be confrontational. This was followed, after the referee had spoken to the players, by
Suarez putting his hand on the back of Evra’s head in a way which, in our judgment, was intended to aggravate Evra. The whole tenor of the players’ exchanges during this episode was one of animosity. They behaved in a confrontational and argumentative way. Whilst Mr Evra is partly to blame for starting the confrontation at that moment, Suarez’s attitude and actions were the very antithesis of the conciliation and friendliness that he would have us believe.
- Suarez’s use of the term was not intended as an attempt at conciliation or to establish rapport; neither was it meant in a conciliatory and friendly way. It was not explained by any feeling on Mr Suarez’s part that a linguistic or cultural relationship had been established between them or that the context was one of informal
social relations. The video footage, when viewed in detail and when looked at as a whole, shows that the players continued their animosity throughout this incident. Their hostility is shown in their actions and demeanour before, at the moment of, and after Suarez’s admitted use of the word.
- Suarez spoke in Spanish to Comolli soon after the game about this serious allegation. Suarez also spoke in Dutch to Kuyt. Both Comolli and Kuyt understood Suarez to have told them that when he spoke to Evra he said words which translate into English as, “Because you are black”. According to Suarez, Comolli misheard what Suarez said in Spanish, and Kuyt misheard what Suarez said in Dutch.
- Dalglish told the referee that Suarez responded with “you are black” having first been taunted with “you are South American”. Comolli is not recorded as using the word “taunted”, but said that Evra said “you are South American” to Suarez who responded with “Tues negro” which translates “you are Black”. There is no suggestion here that Evra had said “Don’t touch me”, yet this seems now to be an essential part of Suarez’s evidence. We were not given any explanation as to why the referee was not told that Evra had said “Don’t touch me, South American”, as opposed to “you are South American”. Secondly, at least as expressly reported by Dalglish, Suarez’s remark was a riposte to being taunted by Evra. If that is correct, it would suggest that Dalglish understood Mr Suarez’s comment to be in the nature of retaliation for having been called “South American”. But that would suggest that the riposte “You are black” was used in a derogatory sense, which is contrary to Suarez’s case. In fact, Suarez told us that he did not consider being described as South American to be derogatory, so it is difficult to understand why this was referred to as a “taunt”.
-The discrepancies between what Dalglish and Comolli reported to the referee on the one hand, and Suarez’s evidence as to what he said on the other hand, have not been satisfactorily explained.
- The impression created by these inconsistencies was that Suarez’s evidence was not, on the whole, reliable. He had put forward an interpretation of events which was inconsistent with the contemporaneous video evidence. He had changed his account in a number of important respects without satisfactory explanation. As a result, we were hesitant about accepting Suarez’s account of events where it was disputed by other credible witnesses unless there was solid evidence to support it.
Key points summarised
- Kenny Dalglish trying to sway Marriner and Dowd from the start by saying “hasn’t he done this before?”. Patrice Evra has never made claims of racism against someone, unfounded or otherwise.
- To add further weight to Dalglish’s point, Dirk Kuyt falsely claimed that Evra was telling people he had only been booked by the referee because he was black. The commission found this to be entirely untrue.
- Dalglish claimed that Suarez had been “taunted” by Evra, suggesting that Suarez’s response of “you are black” was following Evra saying “you are South American.” If this was true, Suarez wasn’t using the word “negro” in a friendly way at all, rather as an insult. Regardless, Suarez confirmed that being called “South American” was not an insult.
- Comoli stressed he knew how serious the allegations were so being fluent in Spanish wanted to make sure they had their story straight on what Suarez had said. After speaking to Suarez, he then went to tell Marriner and Dowd Suarez’s version. There was no mention of Suarez calling Evra “negro” in response to Evra telling him not to touch him though, which is what his defence later hinged on. They initially claimed Suarez said “you are black” then in the next set of interviews, Suarez claimed he said “why not, black?” after Evra told him not to touch him.
- Suarez claimed that he did not call Evra a negro when they were in the goal mouth, rather after the referee had called them over to speak to them and he then touched Evra. However, his version of events contradicts the testimony of Evra and referee. Evra says that as soon as the referee called them over, Evra reported the racial abuse he had just received, and the referee confirmed this.
- Suarez initially claimed that he pinched Evra on the arm to “defuse the situation”. When he was cross examined, he admitted this was not true.
- The first time Suarez claimed that his use of the word “negro” was “conciliatory” was after the reports from the language experts were made available, where they claimed if the word “negro” was used in a “conciliatory” way, it wouldn’t be regarded as racist in Uruguay.
- Suarez’s defence claim that Evra made up Suarez saying he kicked him because he was black and that he didn’t talk to blacks. They claim that because Suarez had kicked Evra in the knee, Evra wanted revenge, so fabricated the whole story. This means they are suggesting that Evra feigned outrage after his exchange with Suarez and lied to the referee, that he lied to Giggs on the pitch when he asked him what was the matter, and that he lied to Valencia, Chichartio, Nani, Anderson and Sir Alex Ferguson in the dressing room immediately after the game. The commission rejected the defence’s suggestion that the accusations were just an elaborate plot for Evra to get revenge on Suarez for being kicked.
- Comolli claimed that after the game Evra went to Canal+ and demanded that he was allowed to report the racial abuse he had just received. The journalist who interviewed Evra confirmed this opposite of this was true, and that Evra knew the journalist well and he could tell that he was upset. Evra told the journalist off the record what had happened, but the journalist confirmed he asked the question when Evra was being filmed regardless.