Luis Suarez's play on the field has been great, and he has been the driving force for the team's attacks without captain Steven Gerrard. However, some of his actions that are non-football related have made life quite interesting for the club and the Uruguayan forward.
Liverpool's handling of Luis Suarez's racism row was somewhat embarrassing for such a big club. Their actions were overly aggressive and, if the report of the commission that passed the ruling is anything to go by, unfounded.
The club made themselves out to be the victim, and even in accepting the ban, they were defiant. Add that to the fact that they could not reign in their star enough to make sure he avoided his confrontation with Fulham fans.
Here is a look at some of the things the club did:
- The club questioned the credibility of both the FA and the victim, Patrice Evra.
- Soon after the initial ruling of the eight-match ban, the players offered their support by wearing t-shirts with a defiant-looking Luis Suarez on the front.
- Despite the fact that they accepted the ban, the club still vented its feelings on the matter and the innocence of its employee.
- Luis Suarez's "apology" left room for a bit more apologizing.
Taking all that into consideration, the commissions report leaves Liverpool looking a bit foolish.
The report emphasized the lack of credibility in Luis Suarez's statements along with highlighting the full depth of the commission's investigation.
The reasoning behind the ban also included that the Liverpool forward was unreliable as his claims were inconsistent with video footage and other evidence. Furthermore the report rejected his claims that the use of the word 'negro' can be seen as friendly.
Mr. Suarez's evidence was unreliable in relation to matters of critical importance. It was, in part, inconsistent with the contemporaneous evidence, especially the video footage.
For example, Mr. Suarez said that he pinched Mr. Evra's skin in an attempt to defuse the situation. He also said that his use of the word 'negro' to address Mr. Evra was conciliatory and friendly. We rejected that evidence.
To describe his own behaviour in that way was unsustainable and simply incredible given that the players were engaged in an acrimonious argument. That this was put forward by Mr. Suarez was surprising and seriously undermined the reliability of his evidence on other matters.
Here is a link to the full report.
Liverpool handled the whole situation badly. It is perfectly fine to defend your employee against such allegations especially when you are more knowledgeable of the person on a personal level, but for such a big club, Liverpool failed to look beyond themselves and in that sense made a mess of things.
Liverpool's willingness to play the victim and cry foul was bad public relations. They set themselves up to look like a whining child, one that was insensitive to such a sensitive issue—this, despite their claims otherwise.
Liverpool have admitted for the first time that the club's handling of the Luis Suarez racism case has left them with an image problem.
'The perception of how we are or have been over the past few weeks is not how we want it,' Ian Ayre, the club's managing director, told the BBC.
'It has been a difficult time for everyone at the club. The key for us is that this club want to fight racism and discrimination.'
Liverpool are a big enough club that they will be able to get past this without much trouble. They will certainly have to tread carefully when Luis Suarez returns and if any similar incidents occur in the near future.