Luis Suarez has to go. His blatant refusal of Patrice Evra's outstretched hand before the start of Saturday's Premier League game at Old Trafford was an act of crass stupidity. In a season where the ugly issue of racism has been all too prevalent in the Premier League, Suarez had a chance to close one of the worst chapters of this moronic behavior, but instead, with his contemptible action, he has brought further shame upon soccer, Liverpool FC and himself.
Much was made before the game about the prematch handshake between Evra and Suarez. Earlier this week, as reported in The Daily Telegraph, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said, “But from Luis’s point of view, we have spoken to him and I know he will shake the hand of Patrice Evra and the other Manchester United players before the game.”
Dalglish, who has come under criticism himself in the last few days for his support of Suarez, will have trouble defending the Uruguayan striker now. Suarez has thumbed his nose up at his manager and decided that he is bigger than the club. Dalglish will not be able to defend Suarez's actions any longer or claim the player should never have been banned in the first place, without now making himself look foolish.
Suarez, returning in is first full game back since his eight-match ban for racially abusing Evra, not only walked past Evra's offer of a handshake, but when the Manchester United captain grabbed his arm to stop him, Suarez simply shrugged it off. No matter how aggrieved the Liverpool No. 7 feels about his ban and even if he feels wrongly judged because he claims his abuse was in jest rather than in malice, Suarez needed to do the right thing for soccer, Liverpool FC and himself.
Instead, Suarez ended up making himself look like a bad joke.
Sir Alex Ferguson is never going to be Liverpool FC's biggest fan and he has had plenty to say about the club in the past, but as reported in The Guardian, the Manchester United manager got it right when he said this about Suarez:
"I could not believe it, I just could not believe it. He's a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club, that certain player should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again. The history that club's got and he does that and in a situation like today could have caused a riot. I was really disappointed in that guy, it was terrible what he did."
The fact that United won 2-1, with Rooney scoring a quick double and Suarez scoring for the Anfield club, means little when compared to the wider-reaching effects of racism in soccer. The Premier League has made a big deal over its involvement with the Kick Racism Out program and this season the FA has had two huge racism cases to deal with: Suarez's abuse of Evra and John Terry's alleged abuse of QPR defender Anton Ferdinand.
The John Terry case is set to start in July, but the fallout has already been wide reaching with Terry stripped of the England captain's armband and England manager Fabio Capello's resigning from his post.
While it can be argued that it was nothing more than a missed handshake and the excuses will surely flow as to how Suarez simply made a mistake, the FA could make a stand and show they are serious about the issue of race hate and ban Suarez for the rest of the season. Liverpool FC and Dalglish in particular could come out and issue an apology to Evra.
Dalglish at the end of the match cut a forlorn figure, lost outside the entrance of the tunnel, unsure of what to do apart from slap his players on the back. Suarez is going to tarnish Dalglish's legacy if he is allowed to continue at the club.
Suarez's behavior this season is starting to distract from all the good things that Liverpool have done. If Liverpool continue to support Suarez then this season becomes about how Liverpool FC stood by a player banned for racist abuse and continued to support him even as his racist behavior never abated. Liverpool FC will lose fans and become known as a club that supports racists. That is not acceptable for any team, let alone one of the greatest soccer clubs in the world.
Liverpool FC needs to distance itself from Suarez, not only for the good of the club but for the good of the game. Suarez has to go.