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PFA back strong statement on racism made by Luis Suarez punishment


Luis Suarez's eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra is a strong statement that racism will not be tolerated, players chief Gordon Taylor said today.

Liverpool striker Suarez is expected to appeal - the Uruguay international's defence was that due to cultural differences he was unaware that language acceptable in his country was viewed as racist in Europe.

Liverpool have reacted with fury at the punishment for the 24-year-old, who was also fined £40,000, which was imposed by an FA independent regulatory commission.

Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, said the sanction was an important message especially after the outcry at FIFA president Sepp Blatter's remarks - later retracted - that racism on the pitch should be settled by a handshake.

Taylor told Press Association Sport: "This was an independent commission experienced in law and football and they must have had compelling evidence, and it sends out a very strong message to the rest of the world.

"I understand the point about cultural differences but if you come to this country all players have to abide by not just the laws of the game but the laws of the land as well.

"Referring to someone's skin colour has got to be offensive - it's self-evident.

"No one can say the FA have ducked this issue and bearing in mind outcry in this country over Sepp Blatter's remarks it sends out an important message.

"This is a timely reminder that the FA, the PFA and the clubs to continue education programmes particularly for players coming from abroad that it is never right to make reference to a person's skin colour or nationality."

Taylor said the high-profile nature of the issue, with two of the biggest clubs in the world, would reinforce the message.

He added: "This is a situation involving two of our biggest clubs and a very sensitive time and it reiterates the message we want to get out.

"We are a multicultural society and a cosmopolitan league and players must have equal respect for people regardless of their nationality or skin colour.

"You can understand Liverpool being upset as they are a top quality club with a top quality manager but perhaps it is a timely reminder that players new to this country need to be advised about what is unacceptable."

The incident happened during the Liverpool v Manchester United match on October 15.

Liverpool have suggested there was a witch-hunt against Suarez and insist they believe their player is innocent.

Lord Herman Ouseley, chairman of Kick It Out, also backed the FA's punishment but also urged the game's authorities to maintain a tough stance on racism.

Asked if this was the landmark case Kick it Out needed, Ouseley told BBC Radio 5 Live this morning: "It's not that Kick it Out needed it, it's football needs it.

"It is quite important that the football authorities take the decisive action where the evidence is there, where they carried out thorough investigations, to impose sanctions that would hopefully prevent other players from not maintaining the standards of conduct that are expected in any professional arena.

"And professional football is such that if players who are very expensively paid to perform their functions, providing entertainment, also have a code of conduct that if breached it's professional misconduct and therefore it requires the sanctions that are to be imposed.

"It remains to be seen whether the FA will maintain its' tough stance and its' consistency that is needed to see this through, we're still in a process..."