Liverpool still haven't quite got to grips with this sorry lark.
For an apology to truly resonate it has to be delivered without a caveat. It has to come without even the merest suggestion that you're in any way the victim. In the court of apologies, there is no "but" to the Luis Suarez bite.
Those of us with partners know this only too well. Try telling your wife you lost all of your family's passports because you were stressed out over moving house. Try telling her you poured bleach into the washing machine, destroying several of her favorite tops, because the bottle looked like the normal detergent you use.
I've tried both. Neither worked anywhere near as well as, "I'm sorry, I royally screwed up, what can I do to make it better," would have done.
This is sign I saw hanging in Jimmy Johns sandwich job recently. Usually these types of signs are to be scoffed at and ignored, but with Suarez's bite on the brain this one stood out to me. It's a simple lesson in how to apologize.
Suarez, Liverpool chairman Ian Ayre and the club's manager Brendan Rodgers have obviously never been to Jimmy Johns for a delicious deli meat sub (freebies welcome).
This is how they reacted to the FA's (perfectly reasonable) 10-game ban for a player who has now twice been found guilty of biting an opponent and once for racial abuse.
"I can't help but look at the sanction which has been put on Luis and I honestly feel the punishment has been against the man rather than the incident," said Rodgers, as per Metro.
"We are all disappointed at the severity of the punishment and in particular the differing standards that have been applied across various previous incidents," said Ayre, per Liverpool's official website.
Said Suarez, in an official statement released through twitter:
I would like to explain to everyone that I decided to accept the ban because whilst 10 games is clearly greater than those bans given in past cases where players have actually been seriously injured, I acknowledge that my actions were no acceptable on the football pitch so I do not want to give the wrong impression to people my making an appeal.
All three got it wrong. "I'm sorry, but," is never the way to go.
The punishment should not have been the focus. The focus should have been Liverpool's representatives regaining their dignity and setting an example of how one of the world's great, historic and beloved sporting institutions should deal with the art of contrition.
There will be no official appeal, but by questioning the ban openly Liverpool have launched a public one anyway.
Having decided not to appeal only one course of action made sense and that was to accept the punishment gracefully and with humility—however bitter the taste (no pun intended). Anything else would be read as stubborn resistance to authority and diminish Suarez's reputation still further.
Liverpool have dealt with this one far better than they did Suarez's "incident" with Patrice Evra, but they still have much to learn in the art of apology.
Sorry is no longer their hardest word, it's avoiding the but that follows it.
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