Luis Suarez Ban: Ajax Have More Class Than Liverpool

Terry CarrollContributor IIIJanuary 4, 2012

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers at Anfield on December 26, 2011 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Liverpool have not backed down one jot in defending Luis Suarez, even though they have accepted the IRC decision that he racially abused Patrice Evra.

Indeed, while piously seeking to validate their ant-racial credentials with irrelevant references to America, they have continued to criticise all and sundry in their besieged mentality.

The media response suggests that in doing so, they have lost the support of fair-minded football fans and writers.

Sports journalist of the year Martin Samuel, for example, has taken Liverpool to task in his latest editorial in the Daily Mail.

And whatever patronising utterances Liverpool may have to make about their attitude to black players doesn't wash with Jason Roberts or the anti-racism campaigners. There is a gathering clamour for an apology to Evra that has been notably absent from all concerned.

Suarez Has Previous Offenses

Perhaps the most surprising thing in all this is the absence of any mention that Luis Suarez does not, in fact, have an untarnished disciplinary record.

We're not talking about red cards here, but serious physical abuse. Among the most abhorrent behaviours in a sporting arena, two of the worst are spitting at or biting an opponent.

And yes, you've guessed it, a year ago, Luis Suarez, then captain of Ajax, was found guilty of biting an opponent,PSV's Otman Bakkal, in an unprovoked attack.

Suarez and Ajax's Reaction Different to Liverpool

Ajax's reaction was immediate and salutary. They imposed their own two-match ban and a fine even before the Dutch authorities acted.

Suarez's reaction was also dramatically different in that case.

This was on 23 November 2010, and in this case, the Dutch Football Federation reacted immediately. The following day, it imposed its own seven-match ban on Suarez. Ajax didn't appeal, thereby averting a disciplinary hearing.

The Dutch daily paper De Telegraaf branded Suarez the "Cannibal of Ajax."

Suarez uploaded an apology onto his Facebook page.

Abuse is Abuse

Of course, physical abuse cannot be equated with racial abuse, unless it is based on racial or colour difference or prejudice.

The fact is that, in stark contrast to the "whiter than white" image Liverpool have painted of their star striker, he was convicted of, accepted and apologised for serious physical abuse.

His abusive one-finger gesture against Fulham fans, which earned him a one-match ban, pales into insignificance in comparison to the two much more serious offences. They do, however, form a pattern which, added to his cheating in the World Cup, paints an unsavoury overall picture.

A Missed Opportunity

The sad thing in all of this is that Suarez and Liverpool have now missed an important opportunity. Nobody is denying the charitable work that the player has done to alleviate inequality and disadvantage.

Stories like that should be making the headlines rather than whining finger-pointing and a graceless unwillingness to apologise to a fellow player who was clearly upset and aggrieved by the racial and very personal slur.

It would also have been an opportunity to build bridges with Manchester United, to which that club could have responded positively and constructively.

Instead, long after the player has gone, non-Liverpool football fans are now likely to remember him for these events, rather than the fine footballer that he is.

The other sadness is to see an equally fine footballer and latter day legend, Kenny Dalglish, fall by the wayside. You can surely expect a manager to support his player, but one rather expects that Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United would have done the decent thing if the tables had been turned.

The Liverpool manager has clearly had a strong hand in the pre- and post-disciplinary reaction. He won't back off and has added fuel to the fire. It is a pity that he, his striker and the name of one of history's greatest football clubs have been so badly damaged by a controversy of their own making.


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