I am no lawyer so I don’t know whether the Independent Regulatory Commission’s report into the Luis Suarez /Patrice Evra racist language row, gives Liverpool FC and Luis Suarez enough leverage to appeal.
Given last months decision, no one would seriously expect the report to paint Suarez in a favourable way. It is hard for me as white, non racist UK citizen who is in contact, through where I live and work, with people from all races to find the quotes in the report that have been attributed to Suarez as acceptable. Seeing them in print makes my blood run cold.
Nonetheless there are apparent inconsistencies and unresolved issues in the report. For example there is still no direct evidence about what Suarez said to Evra, only each of the player’s words, which don’t match up. Moreover the report details the words, which initiated the clash, Evra said to Suarez about his sister yet he has escaped punishment. Then there is the issue of intent and context in which Suarez uses the word “negro” not to mention the cultural aspect and how this word has different meaning in South America. One also wonders why the FA has taken so long to issue it, perhaps they were making sure it was as watertight as possible?
No doubt the lawyers will consider all this and go through the report with a finest of toothcombs and again? The club have said they need to go through it before deciding weather or not to appeal and is no wonder, it is a detailed document, 115 pages long. I’m still torn, if Liverpool and Suarez genuinely believe an appeal is the right thing to do they should do so. However sadly I fear it will not purge Suarez and Liverpool Football Club of the almighty stench that this case has caused.
The PR gaffs haven’t really helped. Many point to the T shirts the squad worn before the Wigan game which supported Suarez. To me this is no big deal, it’s simply friends and team mates supporting each other, showing unity, yet others have read more sinister things into it lending much needed credence to flaky arguments that suggest Suarez and club are victims of FA bias, or some kind of a witch hunt? However, perhaps, with hindsight, Liverpool should have waited for the report to be published before issuing any kind of statement not least the strongly worded one after the decision to punish Suarez was announced?
So where are we now? In a way the club has painted itself into a corner. If they accept the report we will be seen to have behaved rashly in the lead up. The club and Suarez’s reputation will have been damaged no, it already has. If we go ahead and appeal we will undoubtedly, given the graphic content of the report, be ploughing a lone furrow and be seen to be damaging the “kick out racism” issue of the game, even if we think Suarez is innocent. There used to be a time when Liverpool did all their dirty washing behind doors. Not so with the onset of Hicks and Gillett and we, seemingly, have still to restore that policy under the new regime.
Whatever the case Suarez has done himself no favours. A rash moment on the pitch, to add to the Fulham finger ban, has caused all this hassle and eight game ban isn’t exactly going to help the team and what it is hoping to achieve this season. Moreover his reputation, guilty or otherwise, will have taken an unholy bettering which might even see him leave us altogether. Perhaps this is a good thing for the player (and the club) although the report, and Evra, suggests that Suarez is not a racist many will not see it like that and ask what the difference is between making a racist comment and being a racist? It is an unholy mess and a situation which, regardless of how things pan out, Suarez and Liverpool will never emerge from as winners.