Spanish slang may get Suarez off the hook

Use of word 'negrito' is key part of Liverpool striker's defence as race row with Evra rumbles on

Patrice Evra is aware that the nuances of South American slang may prevent him from demonstrating that he was the victim of racist abuse from Liverpool's Luis Suarez in Manchester United's league match at Anfield last month.

Sources in France suggested last night that the word Evra says he heard Suarez utter several times in the second half of the game may be negrito, a South American term which is generally affectionate, but sometimes – as in this context – a way of poking fun.

It translates as "little black fella" though is such a common part of the Spanish vernacular that team-mates use it on each other. A tweet that was sent on Friday from Dani Pachecho to his Spain U21 team-mate Thiago translated as: "Negrito. Enjoy yourself there and if you need anything the lion will come to the rescue haha..."

If negrito was the word Suarez used, then Evra's shock is understandable if he did not understand the context in which that particular piece of vernacular is used.

But in Uruguay and Argentina, the use of the word negro and negrito by commentators describing Premier League players is common. Visitors to South America often find that shocking if they are unaware of the nuance but the Spanish word negro for the colour black is pronounced differently to the offensive "negro" and one has nothing to do with the other. Un hombre negro means "black man". Affixing 'ito' and 'ita' on the end of words is to express that something is smaller.

The possibility of negrito being the offending expression explains why Suarez said in midweek that his own words were not an insult but just his own "way of expressing myself. I called him something his team-mates at Manchester call him, and even they were surprised by his reaction".Suarez said "there were two parts of the discussion, one in Spanish, one in English", and it is is possible that David de Gea and Javier Hernandez – the members of United's Spanish-speaking fraternity on the pitch that day – may have evidence relevant to Suarez's claims.

The expression is certainly a very long way from Luis Aragones referring to Henry as negro de mierda back in 2004. Though Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish has been deeply critical of the time it has taken the Football Association to conclude this investigation, the complexities do reveal what the authorities are up against. Dalglish's complaints were premature and unjustified.

Meanwhile, Suarez has revealed his desire to remain at Liverpool for many years to come. He has made an excellent start to life on Merseyside and admits he feels completely at home in England and believes it would be difficult to re-create his level of satisfaction anywhere else in the world.

Suarez said: "I've just started a phase of my career which I always dreamed about and wanted to do, which is to play for Liverpool. I have five years left on my contract and I think beyond that, I'm already thinking about staying many more years at Liverpool.

"It's a club I like. I feel very good about being here, about being in the city. I feel very pleased. It would be difficult to match the atmosphere, hunger for success and glory that this club has, at another team."

Suarez also spoke about netting four times in a World Cup qualifier against Chile last Friday night. The striker joked that his Uruguayan team-mates had joked that he could even have doubled his tally had he not been substituted after 76 minutes as a precautionary measure.

Suarez, who scored all four in a 4-0 win, said: "You always dream about scoring goals and scoring four in a game is not easy, but if it wasn't for the efforts of my team mates, I would not have scored the goals.

"The important thing is that I could keep playing, but I did not over-extend myself in some plays. One of my team-mates joked that if it wasn't for the slight back pain I could've scored eight!"

He added: "I love playing, so whenever I'm taken off I mourn a little, and get a sick feeling in my stomach, but it's all about the team, and I always appreciate everyone's efforts"

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