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Luis Suarez: 10 Liverpool Controversies That Didn't Involve the Uruguayan

Mark JonesFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2013

Luis Suarez: 10 Liverpool Controversies That Didn't Involve the Uruguayan

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    With debate raging over whether or not Luis Suarez will ever be seen in a Liverpool shirt again following his latest in a long line of controversial acts against Chelsea on Sunday, everyone is having their say on the Uruguayan.

    In biting Branislav Ivanovic during the 2-2 draw at Anfield, many are now claiming that Suarez has bitten off more than he can chew and that his Reds career could well be over.

    It is undoubtedly true to state that the Reds have never had a player who bends and breaks the rules as frequently as their current star forward does, but the club haven't been averse to controversy over the years.

    Some of the incidents pale into insignificance compared to what Suarez has done in the past, but others landed those involved in hot water.

    Confining our countdown to solely on-pitch affairs, here are 10 Liverpool controversies that, for a pleasant change, don't centre around Suarez.

Robbie Fowler Supports Sacked Dockers

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    In the same week that he'd been praised by FIFA for attempting to overturn a penalty decision given in his favour in a match at Arsenal, Robbie Fowler was then fined by UEFA for revealing a T-shirt supporting the 500 sacked Liverpool dockers after scoring a goal in a Cup Winners' Cup match against Norwegian side Brann Bergen.

    It was a show of solidarity that went down well on Merseyside, but not so well in the corridors of European football power―where they ban players from making political statements.

    Fowler was fined 2,000 Swiss Francs, but many saw that as a small price to pay for highlighting an issue that affected thousands of people in the part of the world where the forward was brought up.

El-Hadji Diouf Spits at a Celtic Fan

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    In the closing stages of Liverpool's UEFA Cup quarter-final first leg tie at Celtic Park, Liverpool forward El-Hadji Diouf chased a loose ball to the touchline, then saw his momentum take him into the crowd.

    The Senegalese―who had already carved out an unsavoury reputation during his two years at Anfield―was patted on the head by an 18-year-old Celtic supporter, an act which led to Diouf turning and spitting in the fan's face.

    Reds boss Gerard Houllier immediately substituted the player, and he was later fined two weeks' wages by Liverpool and banned for two matches by UEFA.

    He left Liverpool that summer, and there weren't many who were sad to see him go.

Kevin Keegan Fights Billy Bremner

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    Despite this being the Charity Shield, there wasn't much charity about the way Kevin Keegan and Billy Bremner came to blows in a match between Liverpool and Leeds United at Wembley in 1974.

    After being fouled by Johnny Giles, Keegan mistook the culprit to be the notoriously tough Scottish midfielder Bremner, and the two squared up to each other and landed blows in front of stunned onlookers.

    Keegan had been sent off in a preseason friendly just four days earlier, and as he and Bremner both received their marching orders here, they famously both took off their shirts and threw them to the ground as they made their way off the pitch.

    Both players were fined £500 and banned for 11 matches; three for the fight and eight for the short throwing.

Steven Gerrard 'Tackles' Gary Naysmith

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    Then 22, Steven Gerrard was well on the way to becoming Liverpool's midfield general in late 2002 but he still had a reckless streak in his game that he was struggling to control.

    One such moment came in a Merseyside derby at Anfield just before Christmas, when Gerrard launched into a two-footed tackle on the Everton defender Gary Naysmith.

    The incident was missed by referee Graham Poll, but it sparked a brawl involving the likes of Danny Murphy and a young Wayne Rooney.

    Gerrard was later found guilty of violent conduct and banned for three games by the FA.

    Liverpool failed to win any of them.

Robbie Fowler Taunts Graeme Le Saux

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    In late February 1999, Liverpool's match at Chelsea―a game otherwise remembered for a 42-minute performance from French midfielder Jean-Michel Ferri, a controversial enough signing on his own―was livened up by a confrontation between home defender Graeme Le Saux and Reds forward Robbie Fowler, a pair who had been England teammates.

    Le Saux's refined personality had led to false rumours that he was gay, and Fowler―in what he described as "banter"―responded to the argument by turning and showing his backside to the Chelsea player.

    The FA didn't agree with Fowler's version of events, although his ban for the incident wasn't to come until he hit the headlines again a month later...

Robbie Fowler 'Eats the Grass' Against Everton

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    Five weeks after the Chelsea incident, Fowler was back in the firing line in a Merseyside derby against Everton at Anfield.

    After scoring one of his two goals in the 3-2 win, Fowler dropped to his knees in front of the Everton fans and pretended to snort the Anfield touchline as though it were a line of cocaine. For years the forward had been the subject of false taunts and rumours―chiefly started by Everton fans―about an apparent drug habit, a claim that always rejected by the player and never proved by anyone.

    Fowler's manager, Gerard Houllier, gave the comical excuse that Fowler was actually "eating the grass" in a celebration inspired by the Cameroonian defender Rigobert Song. No one was buying it.

    The club eventually fined him £60,000 for the incident, and the FA―coupling this with the Le Saux confrontation―fined him a then record £32,000 and banned him for six matches.

John Barnes Has a Banana Thrown at Him at Goodison

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    It is one of the controversies on this list that can't be blamed on a Liverpool player in any way, but it represented one of the key moments in 1980s football in England.

    In 1987, when John Barnes was one of the key players in a hugely exciting Liverpool side, the Reds visited Goodison Park to play in a Merseyside derby.

    With some Everton fans heard singing "Everton are white," a banana was thrown at Barnes, who skilfully backheeled it off the pitch.

    The moment was captured on camera and served as one of the most striking images of football's struggle against racism at the time.

Sander Westerveld vs. Francis Jeffers

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    So many of these incidents occur in Merseyside derbies don't they?

    In truth this one was a little comedic, as Reds goalkeeper Sander Westerveld and Everton forward Francis Jeffers squared up to each other and traded blows 15 minutes from the end of a 1-0 win for the Blues at Anfield―still their last win at the home of their old rivals.

    To add to the comedy, Liverpool had used up all of their substitutes and so defender Steve Staunton spent the remainder of the game in goal, whilst Gerrard was sent off for a reckless tackle in the closing moments.

Jamie Carragher Leaves a Tip at Highbury

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    In 2002, a tempestuous FA Cup fourth round tie that ended with just 19 men on the field saw cup holders Liverpool trailing to Dennis Bergkamp's goal.

    Martin Keown had just been sent off for Arsenal midway through the second half, when Jamie Carragher went to take a throw in by the touchline. Carragher was hit by a coin thrown by one of the Gunners fans, and the defender reacted by turning and throwing it back into the supporters.

    With as many as three Arsenal fans claiming the coin hit them, Carragher was sent off, receiving a three-match ban and a £40,000 fine.

    Bergkamp was also sent off for the Gunners as Arsenal held on to win 1-0.

Bill Shankly Suspects Inter Milan of Foul Play

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    Chasing a place in their first ever European Cup Final, Liverpool beat Inter Milan 3-1 in the first leg of their semi-final in 1965. However things were going to take a turn for the worse in Italy.

    The problems started when incessant church bells where the team were staying in Lake Como ensured that the players were kept up all night―a problem which forced manager Bill Shankly to challenge his physio Bob Paisley to climb up the church tower and wrap the bells in bandages to drown out the noise. Paisley refused.

    The problems became more serious in the San Siro, though, where Shankly felt that a series of decisions going against his team cost them a place in the final as they lost 3-0.

    "I was told before the game in Milan that whatever happened we would not go through to the final," he said later.

    "I had the feeling that something was wrong politically and I believe there were some investigations later about Inter and Liverpool. We can't really prove anything but I remember being told that we would not win. It was just like a war that night. Two of the Inter goals weren't legal."

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