Would I lie to you? – The North West race row

by admin

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

A heavy cloud appears set to hover over English football during the next week or so, one with far greater implications than a simple bout of bad weather. For all the pre-match preamble concerning Liverpool’s progress and Wayne Rooney’s Euro ban, the newspaper headlines that have come out of Saturday’s contest make grim reading for everyone. Openly involved in a personal grudge match throughout the ninety minutes, it was revealed soon afterwards that Manchester United’s French full-back Patrice Evra had accused Reds’ forward Luis Suárez of verbal racial abuse.

Evra specifically claimed that the Uruguayan had used the “n-word” against him as many as ten times and went on to say that, if the footage were to be revisited accordingly, evidence of this would doubtless be found. This was clearly no immaterial allegation and, sure enough, the Frenchman informed Sir Alex Ferguson on Monday that he wished to take it up with the FA, who are now looking into things. The governing body will want to do so thoroughly yet efficiently to avoid what is bound to be an ugly process being dragged out under the watchful eyes of the media. The Premier League has gone without such an issue arising for some time now and the repercussions of this sudden feud could be as costly for its own reputation as any player’s.

Luis Suárez was quick to deny the accusation, labelling it an insult on his morality. Certainly, the striker has no history of such behaviour but the big question lingering at the heart of the dispute is why would Evra lie? By no means to brand Suárez guilty until proven innocent, but it seems a very dangerous game for the Frenchman to be playing if he is pursuing the matter so forcibly without the necessary proof in tow. Indeed, I would argue that it is an equally shameful and punishable crime to make up such an offence being committed against you as committing the offence itself.

Neither player has shied away from controversy in their recent footballing lives. Patrice Evra, you may remember, led a team revolt against then French national coach Raymond Domenech for sending Nicolas Anelka home mid-tournament from the 2010 World Cup. Les Bleus subsequently left South Africa acrimoniously, humiliated by their performances and disgraced by their lack of professionalism. By contrast, Uruguay stayed out there almost to the very end, but mainly thanks to a blatant act of bad sportsmanship from Luis Suárez when he handled on his own goal-line to prevent Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan from scoring a winning header, a decision for which he was both condemned and applauded.

Adding fuel to the impending fire is the fact that both players are held in such high regard by their respective clubs. Patrice Evra was captain of United on Saturday whilst Luis Suárez and Liverpool FC have appeared to be a match made in heaven to date. Whatever the outcome of the FA review, that may all be about to change for one of them. The English game has come a long way in kicking racism both off the pitch and out of the terraces and I suspect that the culpable party here, be it Suárez or Evra, may well have the book thrown at them.

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