Liverpool fan Phillip Gannon, 58, has been banned by the Liverpool Magistrates' Court for racially abusing Patrice Evra in an FA Cup tie between Manchester United and Liverpool at Anfield earlier in the year, according to The Independent.
Liverpool was battling one of its fiercest rivals, United, on January 28 in the the fourth round of the FA Cup when the incident took place. Liverpool won 2-1 that day in its journey to the final, but the day was marred, yet again, by non-football events.
Gannon has been banned for four years. The game was one of the eight for which Luis Suarez was serving a ban for racially abusing the same victim, Patrice Evra. The Suarez-Evra episode had raised tensions between the two clubs, and the atmosphere at Anfield was certainly very hostile that day.
Gannon let the occasion get to him and could not quite control his outburst. With Liverpool's image already somewhat soiled by prior events, Gannon should have taken care of his behavior with a lot more discipline.
Besides being found guilty on two counts of using insulting words, Gannon was also pictured making a monkey gesture towards Evra. Gannon had taken a bottle of Carlsberg beer before the match that may have influenced his behavior. The Independent reports:
"He seemed to spend more time shouting abuse than actually watching the game."
Gannon told the court that at the time he was unaware "Pikey" was a racial slur against the traveling community.
At one stage of the game, Mr Maguire said, Evra was about 10 yards away from their seats when he heard Gannon make the offensive remarks in French.
Is the ban for four years too harsh?
The Liverpool Magistrates' Court has convicted the offender for the act, and it should be appreciated for that. There is simply no place for racism in the game and everything that can be done to prevent it in future should be implemented. Having said that, the rule should apply for everyone, or it simply becomes another kind of racism.
The court in Liverpool has acted without bias after an investigation was reasonably carried out. Patrice Evra admitted to abusing Luis Suarez during the game in which Suarez was adjudged to have racially abused the Frenchmen. Evra got away without paying even a fine, let alone being banned. Evra can also be seen abusing Frank Lampard and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink throughout the internet in a video (contains profanity).
Additionally, why was there no investigation carried out with conviction regarding the incident on the eve of Manchester United vs. Liverpool at Old Trafford when fanzines portrayed Luis Suarez in a very bad light? Further, Liverpool fans have every right to anticipate the action that will be taken against John Terry for a similar offence to Suarez's.
If such incidents do not have the same outcomes as Phillip Gannon's, then I am afraid that there is another kind of racism going on in the world without anyone judging it.