England’s FA has suspended Liverpool striker Luis Suarez for eight matches and fined him more than $60,000 for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra. Evra claimed Suarez called him “negro” at least 10 times during a match on Oct. 15. He reported it to the referee after the match. The referee mentions it in his match report.
Liverpool has defend Suarez vociferously and released a whiney press release that reeks of owners Fenway Sports Group. (Imagine Dan Gilbert without the Comic Sans.) Observations that Suarez has black friends and is of mixed-race himself are cheap nonsense, (Does he eat at soul food establishments? Does he tip black waiters?) but the club does raise a couple legitimate issues.
Most validly, the incident was not caught on tape, and there has been no neutral-party corroboration this incident happened as described by Evra. More debatably, there may be a legitimate cultural disconnect at fault. Words, even if translated directly, can assume different contexts. In Western nations such as the United States, Britain and France, there is a strong sensitivity to racism. This is not a sign of our enlightenment, so much as our shared, turbulent and Imperial pasts. The goal is to stamp out veritable racism. It is conceivable Suarez could have been ignorant to the virulent context his words would have to a black French player in an English league. Probability is another question. Will one of his bosses, LeBron James, weigh in?
Suarez’ punishment, harsher than most countries receive from FIFA over racist incidents, sets a zero-tolerance tone. One wonders how this will affect the case of Chelsea and England captain John Terry who was caught on tape racially abusing Anton Ferdinand. The FA is waiting for a police inquiry to finish before meting out punishment.
Liverpool have two weeks to appeal the Suarez decision. They should do so, if only because they play four EPL matches those next two weeks. If the suspension is upheld afterward, only five of the eight would be in the Premier League and Suarez would miss the away trip to Manchester United on Feb. 11.
Suarez’ conversion rate is questionable, but his activity in the opponents’ penalty area creates an incredible number of scoring opportunities. The club rarely attacks incisively without him. He is the only Reds player with more than two league goals this season. Suarez extended absence could be trouble and cost Liverpool a chance to return to the Champions League. That’s about 60 million guaranteed reasons for John Henry and partners to feel aggrieved.
Previously: Luis Suarez Bit An Opponent On the Neck and The Announcers Called Him Mike Tyson
Previously: Luis Suarez Scored Two Sweet Goals Today.
Previously: World Cup 2010 Winners and Losers
[Photo via Getty]