Liverpool should take Suarez case to CAS
Published: 21.12.11 / Written by: David Gold
Luis Suarez has been hit with an eight match ban for comments made towards Patrice Evra during a game between Liverpool and Manchester United earlier this season.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the ban is that Suarez was not found guilty of using racist language towards Evra. The FA statement itself says that he used “insulting” language with reference to Evra’s “colour.”
Why did they not just say racist? The presumption must be that they cannot prove what Suarez said was racist, knowing Liverpool would inevitably appeal. Suarez has indeed admitted using a word which refers to Evra’s colour. He insists it was not a racist word. In South American, it is well known that the word Suarez used is not a racist one. In English, it is racist. But all of that is irrelevant. The whole point here is ‘intent.’ If Suarez used a word which he did not believe was racist, then it was not racist. It is precisely the same difference as one person saying someone is “fat” to insult them or using the same word as a jovial, friendly reference.
Most people will find that they have used words which would be seen as insulting in one context to be friendly to someone. “El Flako”, “El Rubio”, and other terms mean “the skinny one” or “the blonde one.” These words make reference to someone’s physical appearance but are used affectionately to refer to Javier Pastore and Dirk Kuyt respectively. Indeed one of the players on the Uruguay team is referred to as “the monkey” and is black. In England this would be seen as undoubtedly racist. In Uruguay it just isn’t, and so there is good reason to think Suarez had no racist intent. If there was no racist intent, then he can’t possibly have been racist.
And then there is the issue of Patrice Evra, who is no stranger to controversy. Indeed he has alleged racism before, and was found to be completely unfounded. Evra also last year led the strike by France players which caused his own National Federation to ban him for five matches. He is not a player of impeccable character, and to the outsider who doesn’t know the conversation that took place between the pair, you would not automatically side with Evra if asked who you think is more likely to be telling the truth.
What Liverpool should do now is to appeal, and if they do not have Suarez’s ban significantly reduced, if not abolished altogether, take it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). It seems utterly ridiculous that Suarez should be banned for eight games, an unprecedented ban, when the evidence against him is so flimsy. Players in the Premier League have gone into challenges and broken the legs of their opponents through reckless behaviour and failed to be banned for more than three games. If Suarez was guilty of racism, then he should have had a huge ban. Racism in all its form is abhorrant. But it is equally wrong to tar an innocent individual with the brush of racism without being able to prove it. The FA statement indicates that they know there is no proof Suarez was racist. The ban he has been given therefore, is completely wrong.