Right. This should be interesting.
Luis Suarez has been found guilty by an Independent Regulatory Commission appointed by the FA of using insulting words to Patrice Evra that referred to Evra’s skin colour. As a result he has been given an 8-match ban and a £40,000 fine. Liverpool Football Club will await the written document that outlines the ruling and reasons behind it before considering an appeal but have already expressed their concerns about the manner in which the case was investigated.
I am a Liverpool supporter. I have also been involved in work dealing with racism and promoting issues of those from the various ethnicities that are a part of British life. My view of this case has been that it has aroused much emotion from all parties concerned. I have a good friend who is a Liverpool fan – his life is LFC – and he is one who isn’t given to emotional responses, he views things as logically and rationally as possible. He was livid at the decision reached for logical and rational reasons.
Elements of what LFC and Suarez are saying are fairly reasonable. Namely that it would appear that the decision has been reached based solely on the word of Evra with no support from anyone who was around at the time. The other argument put forward is that the term that was used was one of familiarity and endearment in Uruguay – the equivalent to saying ‘mate’ or ‘pal’. And also that is why I understand the call that some LFC fans have made to rally behind and support Suarez because he’s ‘innocent’. Whatever happens Suarez will feel he’s been hard done by. That’s his view. (I’m not sure about other LFC responses to the verdict, though.)
Here’s my view. Evra made a complaint that Suarez made a racially offensive term. Suarez admits that he used the term, but it was not a racially offensive term. To me it would be good if there were witnesses. Yet Suarez has already admitted to using the term, just not in the way that it has been perceived. But that’s not Evra’s experience. The ruling is NOT about whether or not Suarez is a racist. Apparently even Evra said that Suarez is not a racist. It’s pretty lazy for people to jump straight to the racist argument. The case is not about if someone is racist, the charge is did he use racially insulting terms. (Fascinating to hear of people debate as to whether a racist comment makes a person a racist. It doesn’t. Don’t be silly. Don’t be lazy. Think it through.) And the only person who knows if he was offended by it is the person who was offended, who is the person who is making the claim.
It was right and proper that the independent regulatory commission took the time it took to consider the charge carefully before reaching a conclusion. I struggle to see how LFC can make a viable stand against the result and would only think that the best they can hope for is a reduction of the ban to 6 games. In as much as I understand the arguments defending Suarez, especially from the perspective of cultural misunderstandings and also the claim that others may have used the very same terms. The bottom line though, is that a player felt he was the recipient of racially offensive language. The FA supported it, which is why he was charged. The apparently thorough-going independent regulatory commission investigated it and also endorsed that as the case.
It’s tough – very tough – to come to another conclusion. It is just sad that people will not address the decision but fly off into the ‘racist’ tag for Suarez.