Luis Suarez: Why Liverpool Fans Are Wrong in Their Blinkered Support
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Let me cut straight to the chase.
I will assume that most readers of this piece will have been aware of the events that transpired between Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra during the Liverpool-Manchester United game last month. I will assume that you are also aware of the English FA's subsequent decision to charge Suarez.
(For a summary on the case, and then some, check out Nigel Scott's piece here.)
In the weeks that have passed after Evra first came out with his claims, and in the days that have crept by since the FA confirmed their charge, Liverpool fans have shown incredible support behind their No. 7, and indelible condemnation towards Evra.
And I'm here to denounce their blinkered support.
Before I give my reasons, let me first clarify my position. I'm not here to denounce Liverpool Football Club's support. As with any case involving such sensitive matters, full evidence has to be gathered, and Kenny Dalglish and the Club have come out expressing their support for Suarez.
Stepping away from a feverish football-club "gladiatorial" mentality, an employer or a family member should always step up and provide full support to a person going through such trials and tribulations. Innocent until proven guilty. And I am confident that they will be strong with their public condemnation of racist behavior if Suarez is indeed found to be guilty in this case.
The same mentality applies to the fans. Liverpool have traditionally been famous for their family-oriented fanbase. Players, coaches and fans alike have all praised the welcoming community at Liverpool, and you don't call the Merseyside Derby the "friendly derby" without any justification.
No, I'm not here to condemn the Club and the fans in getting behind Luis Suarez.
I'm here to denounce their blinkered support.
This blinkered support has seen Liverpool "fans" call Evra a "crybaby" and a "boy who cried wolf," among others, just because he has raised a claim that he considers serious.
This blinkered support has seen Liverpool "fans" hang on to Suarez's responses that Evra's Manchester United teammates were even surprised with his reactions.
This blinkered support has seen Liverpool "fans" blindingly agree with Suarez's claims that, in Uruguay, the alleged word spoken ("negrito") has no racial allegations or discriminatory undertones.
But this is the same group of narrow-minded people who pointed fingers and made gestures towards Nani after his embarrassing "look at me!" episode against the referee in March and cried that Jamie Carragher wouldn't have deserved a red card for his high tackle.
This is the same group of narrow-minded people who have been quick to condemn Chelsea's John Terry after allegations of his racial abuse towards QPR's Anton Ferdinand, even when Terry's case is still under investigation. Terry will surely be the subject of boos from the Liverpool crowd during this Sunday's matchup.
It's double standards at its best. (Or should it be worst?)
As a Liverpool fan belonging to a minority race, I hope that Liverpool will cooperate fully with the investigations and continue to show the support that Suarez has received.
But only if he turns out to be innocent.
Now, I understand the high-stakes on-field pressure, and I also understand that, to get under the opponents' skin, some players turn (in my opinion, stupidly) to derogatory name-calling. Given the social backgrounds of many players, an outright ban on stronger language and a huge tightening up of the rules and regulations would be an overreaction and unnecessary.
But if Suarez does turn out to be guilty of racially offensive language, I would support a reasonable match ban and hefty club fine. Even if the FA decide to use this as an "example," it would send a much stronger message than the pathetic several-thousand-pound fines FIFA has leveraged on racist chants during international games.
And I sincerely hope that Liverpool fans, who have been known for their generous support, would be sensible enough to not afford him a heroic reception when he takes to the field after his ban.
Because a welcoming, family-oriented football club, a club that Liverpool pride themselves for being, would not tolerate this sort of behavior. Not even from a No. 7.
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