The Dregs of Football Society

Cacophonic noises roaring out of the Liverpool camp are understandably disheartening, not just to me as a supporter of a great club, but to any genuine football fan: to ANY person. It doesn’t stop there either, public relations monstrosities don’t come much worse than this recent debacle. The truth about how I feel about his whole situation is that Luis Suarez, great player that he is, does not harbour my complete support. Neither, in this particular incident do Liverpool FC and I’m glad I’m not alone in these sentiments. Thanks to statements by Alan Hansen on the BBC’s Match of the Day, I think there is an opportunity for a little introspection.

When Liverpool fans boo and jeer Evra, some do it as ill-thought banter, others because they believe the Manchester United captain is a liar and yet others who are genuinely bigoted: Proven by the imbecile who taunted Patrice Evra with monkey impressions. Admittedly, when I first heard the breaking news of Suarez’s racist abuse, I like many other Liverpool fans thought that Evra was up to his old tricks; after all he has cried wolf before. As the situation unfolded, I also let my love for Liverpool blind me against the correct course of action: For Suarez to accept his mistake and take his punishment like a man. Nevertheless, it was the reaction of Kenny Dalglish, a man who I hold in even greater regard, which was the most disparaging. I understand that he wants to protect his players, but he has stated on numerous occasions that Liverpool FC is bigger than any player; I just wish he stood by that.

In the aftermath of the original incident Luis Suarez admitted to making a comment regarding Patrice Evra’s race, though he alleges it was a term of endearment, however bizarre that may seem. An argument was brought forward regarding context and cultural nuances in language, but then there is also a need for some insight into other contextual issues:

  1. Most ensuing arguments tend to be said in anger, an ‘endearing’ comment could then imply sarcasm.
  2. Alleged repetition of the word, which as I understand was only stated by Evra, also reflects some kind of intent.

I really have nothing to add regarding the first point, it is more a characteristic of a man, to know how he deals with his own anger. In such case, it’s more speculative than a proven fact. The latter however, is why I think and hope Liverpool fans jeer the defender, let me explain: I mentioned that Evra has claimed racist abuse before; additionally the repetition is supplemented by the fact that  Evra has stated that he does not believe that Liverpool striker is a racist. To me, it seems incredibly inconsistent, if a person is persistently using language that is perceived to be racially derogatory, then they are invariably, a racist. Therefore, I believe that Evra is booed because Liverpool supporters think he is not being genuine.

The contextual argument still stands in my opinion, he was after all speaking to Evra in Spanish and his command of the English language is not as strong. I’m not attempting to make an excuse for Suarez here, I genuinely believe that there was no malice intended; I don’t believe he is a racist but racist language needs to followed in the context of your host’s environment and the recipient involved (Victim). Evra felt it was offensive, and in England it is deemed offensive to make such comments. Therefore, it was only correct that the outcome was a fine and a ban. In conclusion to the nuances in the language and familiarity to the environment, Suarez never felt he did anything wrong so insofar as enacting punishment was involved it could have been more lenient, but only if Suarez had shown some remorse. Unfortunately, he alongside his club defended his stance and all those involved were unwilling to admit their error. Public relations stunts such as the t-shirt fiasco and the perpetual defence from Dalglish have caused uproar: A tidal wave that Liverpool cannot and will not be able to quell immediately.

Liverpool had, up until this point, been seen as a friendly club; a team with appeal and integrity. That image has now become tarnished. The handshake advocated by the FA at Old Trafford was a farce but it heightened the tension of the whole affair, an extension strategy to a saturated product, if you like. Suarez probably felt aggrieved for defamation of character, once again I reiterate, I don’t believe the words were stated with any malice. Nevertheless, we return to the correct course of action, he SHOULD have just shook his hand and let the incident pass.

Unfortunately some of us are allowing our hearts to cloud our judgement. The reality of it is that Suarez was wrong, he should have just said, “sorry, I made a mistake, I apologise.”  He is after all a role model and an icon, but the institutional rebuttal of Suarez’s misdemeanour was something that Liverpool should have dealt with much more gracefully. By taking such a risky stance, Liverpool Football Club could be accused of turning a blind eye to the underlying issue: the spread of racism in football. Campaigns such as Kick it Out are undermined and can undo years of great work. The English FA, after having had taken such a hard line stance on a certain Sepp Blatter, were always going to address this issue with an iron fist. And good for them.

Sorry Shanks, football isn’t THIS important.

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