Luis Suarez has only himself to blame for the racism charge he now faces because he failed to apologise for, or personally explain, the Spanish slang which he claims has been the cause of the anger felt by Manchester United's Patrice Evra, the Kick it Out organisation said last night.
Liverpool are preparing a defence of the Uruguayan striker which will centre on the striker's declaration that he used a word which Evra's "team-mates at Manchester call him." That word might be negrito, which means "little black man" in Spanish, but is used in South America both as a term of endearment and as a gentle wind-up.
It is possible that an apology for any perceived slight could have enabled Liverpool to avoid a Football Association commission hearing which left their manager, Kenny Dalglish, reflecting yesterday on how his club have been on the receiving end of a series of perceived injustices from the football authorities. But none has been forthcoming, with the first public suggestion that Suarez used any slang coming when he addressed the Uruguyan press last week.
A spokesman for Kick It Out said last night: "It would appear that Patrice Evra had no other option than to lodge a complaint in the absence of an apology or any sort of explanation. The process has begun and we await the outcome."
The FA's decision, on Tuesday evening, to charge Suarez with abuse that "included a reference to the ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race of Patrice Evra" divided opinion intensely yesterday, with the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) preparing to throw its weight behind Liverpool's attempts to demonstrate that Suarez is not guilty.
Liverpool are preparing a defence which will centre on the allegedly benign nature of slang derived from the Spanish word for black, negro. The AUF is seeking help from the Uruguayan Embassy in London and its own Foreign Office as it seeks to bolster that aspect of the case for the impending hearing.
The sense of indignation felt by Uruguayans was also graphically revealed when the Brighton & Hove Albion manager, Gustavo Poyet, accused Evra of "crying like a baby" over alleged racist comments and another to join the Suarez cause last night was Liverpool's first black player, Howard Gayle, who insisted Liverpool would not support the player if he were guilty.
Poyet is concerned that the charges brought against his compatriot set a dangerous precedent. "I believe [with] Luis Suarez, it's simple," he said. "I played football for seven years in Spain and was called everything, because I was from South America , and I never went out crying like a baby, like Patrice Evra, saying that someone said something to me. I'm really sad about this charge because it's going to become too easy. I can make a complaint about any opposition manager, and if I take it as far as I can he's going to get charged. Why are we going to take one person's word over another one's? It's too risky."
Poyet, 44 , claimed there was insufficient evidence against Suarez, though the FA has been acutely aware of the linguistic complexities of the case. Its painstaking work on linguistic nuance has largely contributed to the investigation taking five weeks and careful reading of the more serious of two charges could see Suarez escape relatively lightly if he is found to have included a reference to the "colour" or Evra, rather than "ethnic origin" or "race." There is a significant difference between the Spanish word for black – negro, of which negrito is a derivation – and the same word in its widely understood racial context. The substantial number of United players interviewed by the FA may be key to the commission hearing.
Dalglish said Liverpool had felt they were on the receiving end of a lot. "Everybody at every football club thinks that someone can do better or be more helpful but you just get on with it," he said. "Most of the time you don't want to say anything but if you don't say anything they'll walk all over you. They might still walk all over us anyway but you've got to justify yourself, you've got to have an opinion and you've got to make a statement of a belief you've got. At the end of the day we know we've got to play the game and we will play it but it doesn't mean we haven't got an opinion about when we're playing it and it also doesn't mean to say we've got an excuse. "
The manager, who said he wanted the commission to do its work "quickly but correctly," insisted that the charge hanging over Suarez would not affect his form "for any other reason than, like everyone else, sometimes you don't play as well as you are capable of playing."
World shrugs shoulders over Fifa chief's 'race storm'
That Joey Barton was ready to give his Twitter's-worth was no surprise, and neither was the rest of the world's general bemusement over this country's furious reaction to Sepp Blatter's latest example of how not to govern world football. The headline in the Sydney Morning Herald said it all. "British press call for Blatter's head," it said. This is seen by much of the globe as another English disease, only less contagious. Blatter and his entourage are, though, becoming increasingly conscious of the negative perception in which he is held in this country, and the drip-drip effect that has on his wider reputation – his response to Rio Ferdinand's despairing texts over the 75-year-old Swiss's remarks and subsequent desperate attempt to "clarify" the comments demonstrate just that.
Ferdinand remarked: "Fifa clear up the blatter comments with a pic of him posing with a black man... I need a hand covering the eyes symbol!!" Blatter was stung enough to direct a reply: "The 'black man' as you call him has a name: Tokyo Sexwale [a former Robben Island prisoner and South African government minister]. He has done tremendous work against racism." Blatter is due to speak to the BBC today in an interview arranged before this current "race storm", as one Swiss newspaper put it, blew up.
Barton was one of a host of players to attack the Fifa president. He tweeted "Words fail me as to how much of an imbecile this guy really is. taxiforblatter".
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