LIVERPOOL last night launched a passionate and vehement defence of Luis Suarez after the striker was handed an eight-match ban having been found guilty by the Football Association of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
The week-long hearing was told Suarez used insulting words including a references to Evra’s colour during the 1-1 draw between the two clubs at Anfield back in October.
Suarez, 24, who has also been fined £40,000, has 14 days to respond and his suspension will not commence until any appeal process has been concluded.
And Judging by his club’s strongly-worded response to the verdict, in which they questioned how the FA could find their man guilty solely on the word of Evra, Liverpool appear certain to contest the guilty decision.
A club statement said: “We find it extraordinary that Luis can be found guilty on the word of Patrice Evra alone.
“No-one else on the field of play – including Evra’s own Manchester United teammates and all the match officials – heard the alleged conversation between the two players in a crowded Kop goalmouth.
“It appears to us that the FA were determined to bring charges against Luis Suarez, even before interviewing him at the beginning of November.
“Nothing we have heard in the course of the hearing has changed our view that Luis Suarez is innocent of the charges brought against him and we will provide Luis with whatever support he now needs to clear his name.”
Suarez, the Merseysider’s top goalscorer this season, denied Evra’s claim – made during an interview on French TV immediately after the game in question – and argued at the hearing the word “negrito” does not necessarily have racist connotations in Uruguay.
The former Ajax captain tweeted last night: “Today is a very difficult and painful day for me and my family. Thanks for all the support.”
The severity of the punishment represents a bold move by the FA and will increase the pressure on them to hand a similar penalty to England captain John Terry should he face a replica charge relating to alleged racist comments, which he strenuously denies making, aimed at QPR’s Anton Ferdinand.
The FA said in a statement: “Mr Suarez used insulting words towards Mr Evra during the match contrary to FA Rule E3(1). The insulting words used by Mr Suarez included a reference to Mr Evra’s colour within the meaning of Rule E3(2);
“Mr Suarez shall be warned as to his future conduct, be suspended for eight matches covering all first-team competitive matches and fined the sum of £40,000.”
LUIS SUAREZ | CRIME SHEET
For a player not renowned as being one of football’s wildmen, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez certainly has a considerable list of previous misdemeanours.
Jul 2010: Attempting to become the first African side to reach the World Cup semi-finals, Ghana were denied their moment of history when Suarez handled on the goalline and Asamoah Gyan missed the subsequent penalty
Nov 2010: Suarez, then captain of Ajax, was given a seven-match ban after he was found guilty of biting PSV midfielder Otman Bakkal. The Dutch FA said Suarez’s previous poor disciplinary record contributed to the length of the ban.
Dec 2011: Having been subjected to chants of “cheat” throughout Liverpool’s 1-0 loss against Fulham at Craven Cottage, Suarez was photographed making an abusive hand gesture at the home supporters and was charged by the FA.