Suarez D-Day as Liverpool star waits to discover fate in Evra race row
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez could find out later today if allegations he racially abused Manchester United defender Patrice Evra have been proved.
The Uruguay international, charged by the Football Association with abusing the Manchester United defender and referring to his “ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race”, faced a disciplinary hearing last week.
Suarez has always denied the allegations levelled against him by Evra after the 1-1 draw between the sides at Anfield on October 15, with formal proceedings in front of an independent three-man panel having started on Wednesday.
Row: Luis Suarez (left) and Patrice Evra clashed as United and Liverpool drew
The FA announced on Friday there would be no announcement on the case before today at the earliest.
Although the case has become one man”s word against the other, there are complexities that have left it open to interpretation.
From the moment Sir Alex Ferguson escorted his player to see referee Andre Marriner at Anfield after the game, Evra has insisted Suarez abused him on numerous occasions when they clashed in the second half.
Hehas confided in team-mates for several weeks that he is supremely confident the case against Suarez will be proven and his complaint will be vindicated.
Flashpoint: Suarez was charged with abusing Evra at Anfield
Suarez does not deny using the word “negro” or “negrito” once, but what has complicated the case is his defence that the term was not meant as an insult and would be acceptable in Uruguay and many countries around the world.
Brighton boss Gus Poyet said: “In Uruguay it is a nickname for someone whose skin is darker than the rest. It is not offensive. Such people are part of society. We will defend them, go to war with them, share everything with them and at the same time use thatword.”
The context in which it was used was not insulting, Suarez claims, and Liverpool are believed to have employed a linguistics expert to argue this point.
Man in the middle: Ref Andre Marriner had to speak to Evra and Suarez at Anfield
THE MEN WHO WILL DECIDE
PAUL GOULDING QC (chairman): Works at the same Blackstone chambers as the barrister who was successful in representing the FA in Wayne Rooney”s Euro appeal. Qualified FA coach who appeared for Jean Tigana in his successful 2million-plus claim following his sacking as Fulham boss.
BRIAN JONES: Chairman of Sheffield and Hallamshire FA, who wrote to county members six months ago stressing need to fight discrimination.
DENIS SMITH: Ex-Stoke defender who managed York, Sunderland and Oxford United. Now mentor at Stoke academy.
Body language is also said to have been put forward as a mitigating factor, with Suarez claiming his lack of aggression towards Evra also suggests no harm was meant by his comments.
His defence have submitted video evidence they believe supports this point. Although there was little cultural interpretation needed for Suarez”s body language when it came to the one-fingered gesture he gave Fulham fans this month – a separate FA charge followed for that – his defence is expected to cite Evra”s previous; notably the hearing that followed a confrontation between United players and Chelsea ground staff in 2008 which found Evra”s account of events to be “exaggerated and unreliable”.
Opinion has been divided on the issue – as well as Dalglish, Ferguson and Poyet having there say, Fulham boss Martin Jol has also revealed he would be shocked if the charges against Suarez were proved.
Jol worked with Suarez over an 18-month period during his time as Ajax manager and would be taken aback if the charges against the 24-year-old are found proved.
“If it is true, I certainly am surprised,” the Dutchman said. “At Ajax we had players from all over the world, with all the continents involved and he was good with them all.
“He was my captain and you can imagine I told him it was his job to make them feel comfortable. If it is true, I can”t believe it.”
WHAT HAPPENED AT ANFIELD ON OCTOBER 15
Manchester United faced Liverpool in a Premier League match. In the 57th minute Suarez fouled Evra and tempers flared at the next corner. They squared up to each other and Evra asked why Suarez kicked him. Suarez said he should forget about it, these things happen. Evra claims Suarez then became racially abusive, using the word “negro”. Suarez denies using the word in that clash. Evra is clearly wound up, but nearby players do not seem particularly bothered.
A few minutes later Marriner calls the pair together. Suarez apologises and tries to pat Evra on the head. It is alleged Evra said: “Don”t touch me, you South American,” to which Suarez replies: “Porque, negro”
Evra catches Kuyt two minutes later and is booked. He allegedly shouts at Marriner: “You”re only booking me because I”m black.”
Suarez is bemused, saying: “I called him something his team-mates call him and even they were surprised by his reaction.”