A few weeks after he arrived at Liverpool last January, Luis Suarez expressed his heartfelt wish that he would forge a reputation as something other than the cut-throat of Johannesburg and the cannibal of Ajax. He no longer wished to be the player remembered only for denying Ghana a place in the World Cup semi-finals or biting PSV Eindhoven's Otman Bakkal.
"I would love to change that impression of me," he said. But that impression may last a little while yet. Suarez is charged with racially abusing Patrice Evra when Manchester United visited Anfield in October. He is also under investigation by the Football Association for directing an obscene gesture towards Fulham fans as he trudged from the field after Monday's 1-0 defeat at Craven Cottage.
Suarez (right), currently preparing a defence believed to be based on linguistic nuance to the allegation of racism, is expected to be told today whether he is to face a second charge in two weeks over Monday night's incident. The FA's Governance and Regulation Committee was last night examining images, taken from the ground's Putney End, which appear to show Suarez reacting to the taunts of the home fans by raising the middle finger of his left hand.
It is not certain, as yet, whether the Uruguayan will face a charge and, if so, what the offence may be deemed to have been. Punishments for similar offences have varied wildly: Birmingham's Stephen Carr was banned for one game for an obscene gesture directed at Aston Villa supporters last year, while Joey Barton was given just a £2,000 fine in 2006 for dropping his shorts to Everton fans. A host of players – including Raul Meireles and Emmanuel Frimpong – have escaped without censure for such offences, while Wayne Rooney was banned for two games this year for swearing into a television camera.
Suarez retains the full support of his club on both issues and the striker is unlikely to face any internal disciplinary measures.
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