The Star Late Edition

‘No apology will leave Reds, Suarez red in the face’

- IAN HERBERT

LIVERPOOL were last night under mounting pressure to issue an apology for Luis Suarez’s conduct towards Manchester United’s Patrice Evra in the game which has brought him an eight-match ban.

Also, that he withdraw any plans to appeal against the decision of an independen­t regulatory commission which found the Uruguayan used the word “negro” or “negroes” seven times in a two-minute period of the Anfield match in October. Liverpool maintained a steadfast silence on the commission’s report yesterday and, 72 hours after the exhaustive and apparently watertight reasoning was delivered to them, have not moved beyond a holding statement declaring their intent to digest the contents.

While the report clears the Uruguayan of racism, the picture it paints of club personnel altering statements to fall in line with Suarez’s explanatio­n of why he used the word “negro” – in contravent­ion of FA rule E3 (1) – is an embarrassi­ng one which will sit uncomforta­bly with the club’s owners, Fenway Sports Group. On the one occasion when Suarez addressed Evra’s claims in public, he declared that “depending on who ends up in the wrong, one of us will have to apologise”. His club’s reputation is being done no service by the absence of one.

Piara Powar, executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe, a network of antiracism groups on the Continent, yesterday led calls for the club to change their stance.

“Luis Suarez and Liverpool FC have the right to appeal,” Powar said. “However, we would call on the club to think again about their public campaign to dispute the charges and contest the principles involved in the case. As a club with a good internatio­nal standing the vehemence of their campaign is unquestion­ably causing them reputation­al harm.”

Liverpool’s stance has raised questions about leadership at the top of the club. The controvers­y has not been well handled by Liverpool, with the club’s strategy seemingly being driven by manager Kenny Dalglish.

The commission report detailed the FA’S case that Evra asked Suarez why he had kicked him, to which the forward replied: “Because you are black.” When Evra challenged him to repeat the answer and said he would “punch him”, Suarez said: “I don’t speak to blacks.”

The report, released on Saturday evening, details how Evra then told Suarez he was going to hit him, to which the Uruguay internatio­nal replied in Spanish: “Dale, negro, negro, negro.” That translates as: “OK, blackie, blackie, blackie.”

In the absence of video footage which enables investigat­ors to lip-read exchanges between the two players and with no Manchester United players able to provide direct corroborat­ion of Evra’s story, the commission report relies heavily on the credibilit­y of the two players as witnesses. It dispels one of the central points by which Evra might have been discredite­d, finding that there was no question that the defender told the referee André Marriner he was booking him during the 1-1 draw because he was black.

While Evra emerges as a credible witness, Suarez’s testimony is found to be dubious in parts and his actions are found to have “damaged the image of English football around the world”. – The Independen­t

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