Why Luis Suarez Should Be Cautioned for 'Racist' Comments

Tim AndersonCorrespondent INovember 25, 2011

Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez
Patrice Evra and Luis SuarezClive Brunskill/Getty Images

The Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra row has now been dragging on for nearly two months without resolve, and it is only recently that light is being shed on exactly why it is still under investigation.

It has now been reported in various circles (h/t CNN) that the word used by Suarez was 'Negrito' (although this has not been officially announced).

For English ears that understand a little of languages, 'Negrito' would translate literally as 'little black man'. The word is a derivative from Negro mean 'black', formed with 'ito' to mean a smaller or younger person and finishing in 'o', the masculine version of the word.

In many parts of Europe (including France), this term would be recognisable as an offensive word, with strong connotations to the slave trade. It could be argued that Evra was not too offended by the word to let it pass 'at least 10 times' without informing the referee, but that wouldn't excuse Suarez's behaviour.

But for Uruguayans among several countries in South America (including neighbouring Argentina), use of this word has a completely different context.

Despite being the destination over several centuries for the continuous horrendous abuse of the slave trade from African colonies, Uruguayans are in general not offended by the use of the word and commonly call each other, regardless of color,  'negrito/negrita' as a friendly and even affectionate term on the same level as 'mate' or 'buddy' in English.

But this does not mean that Suarez is in the clear. As a visitor of a new country, it is important to respect the local customs and be aware of the language differences that could cause offence to others. Clearly, it has slipped the mind of Liverpool officials to remind Suarez of his new cultural surrounds.

and even the Uruguayan Consulate have offered to lend support to Suarez's case. The FA will be pressured to act as they have committed themselves correctly to stamping out racism.

But they will open a can of worms ensuring that the language that comes with every international player is on the same level of understanding as the English.

To be offended in the English game by a non-English word is also up for debate. To set a precedent of understanding racism between two non-English players may be too hard to control.

This is why the case continues to drag on and also why Suarez should this time receive a caution.