SUAREZ: WHY THE GUILTY VERDICT WAS CORRECT

By Paul Edwards

I’ve read hundreds of tweets and blogs about the Suarez verdict and just as many about the 115 pages of reasons published by the Football Association on New Years eve. Really great timing that by the FA it seemed, though it transpires Suarez and Liverpool had received the paperwork the day before.

There are lots of people with good intentions skimming through the verdict, desperate to pick holes in it, trying to find that loophole either in the legal argument or simply in the quality of the English in the hope it opens a loophole that Liverpool can use to blow the whole case open and assist a successful appeal. I am sure that Liverpool’s lawyers are doing the same – let’s hope they find something!

Sadly my view is that in the same way some of the language in these thoughts will be clumsy it will not make a bit of difference to the probable outcome here.

Before I make lots of enemies, let us get my position clear. I despised Patrice Evra before these events and that hasn’t changed. He has been involved in too much controversy over his career to come to this issue with clean hands, what with being called an unreliable witness by the FA (strangely not here though) and with leading an unforgivable mutiny at the world cup.

I love Luis Suarez, I did before and I still do. He is one of the most exciting players we have had in the number 7 shirt since Kenny. He is one of us and we will stick by him because we have to. Despite that it is clear to me that he is a wind up merchant, a trouble maker and acted like a complete idiot in saying what he did to Evra, regardless of the exact wording he used.

My view is that on the basis of what evidence was before the FA the verdict is sound and the best any appeal could achieve would be to reduce the length of the ban, though with a risk of it being extended. It is therefore likely that whatever happens Suarez will miss between 6 and 10 matches.

I am not a solicitor, nor a specialist sports lawyer, but I have attended and prepared submissions to numerous tribunals ranging from $40m salvage hearings at Lloyds of London to small commercial disputes. I have also worked on a variety of sports cases, including football tribunals, and have seen the way they work. These views are however purely my opinion based on my reading of the 115 pages and my gut instincts! (In case you aren’t sure that sentence is my legal disclaimer!)

I am also experienced at having conducted a hearing, been confident (no, certain) of success and then had my hopes dashed with a judgment that no matter how much I wish was not the case I cannot appeal, or if I did it would not be with much hope of success.

That is what has happened here. I think Liverpool felt the hearing went well, hence the rumours Suarez would be found not guilty and the relaxed attitude of the likes of Dalglish. I suspect their immediate reaction and “that” statement and the t-shirt parade (both of which I applauded then and still do) was caused by their horror and surprise at the outcome.

Many people’s reaction to the reasons is that this is a stitch up, and that there remains no evidence upon which to convict Suarez. Short of having microphones or cameras definitively picking up what was said the Tribunal had to work with what it had.
We sometimes see in the news people convicted in the news of murder, despite the lack of a body or other forensic material, with circumstantial evidence and the disappearance of the victim being enough.

The criminal standard of proof is far higher than it is here in a civil tribunal and this goes some way to explain why John Terry faces a criminal trial and then potentially an FA charge whilst Suarez was only dealt with by the FA.

The format of the decision is pretty standard and it is well written. It sets out in detail the charge, the applicable regulations, the standards of proof that apply and a chronology of the whole process. This is usual.

It is interesting that Kenny Dalglish made some glib comments about the process nearing its testimonial when the chronology sets out a day by day summary of progress, and I can’t really see the delay complained about.

In fact it was Liverpool who asked for extra time, partly due to extra video evidence becoming available, and in view of the pressure upon FA officials, the panel (one of whom is a practising QC and accordingly very busy) and of course the demands on the footballers I think they may have done quite well to get it dealt with as soon as they did.

Publishing a verdict as soon as possible is required by the regulations, and this is what they did. It is not a surprise that such a long set of reasons took so long to produce, requiring careful drafting and consultation between the 3 members of the panel.

The report sets out the evidence that they considered and the weight they attached to it. It is untenable to suggest that the tribunal should have just said that as the main basis of the complaint was from Evra it should have been rejected out of hand.

It is surely naive to suggest that nothing happened between Suarez and Evra, I could see it before me on the day from my seat in the Lower Centenary, and regardless of the actual details on the basis of the evidence before the Tribunal I can see why a guilty verdict was reached.

To move from that position we would have to show that Evra is a complete and utter fantasist and a liar. The fact that Suarez admitted saying certain things shows that something happened.

I do think that the verdict could have been avoided. This is where I am frustrated. It looks to me that several errors were made that contributed to Suarez’s downfall. Hindsight however is wonderful and often in court one wishes an argument had been run in a different way.
The representative Liverpool used is a specialist in Sports Law and no doubt an expert in this area. Without being there we don’t truly know what happened on the day. Representatives react on their feet to the attitudes of witnesses and Judges.

I know how lawyers work, and despite smears against the make up of the panel I do believe this to be an honest result, albeit one I wished hadn’t be reached.

So why did we lose?

  • The low standard of proof would not help, though you will see that in view of the seriousness of the charge they confirmed that where possible Suarez may get the benefit of the doubt.
  • We lost on the argument over what test was applicable, whether the offence or whether the abuse had to be committed intentionally or not. This objective/subjective point is crucial and despite our lawyers arguing otherwise we lost on it. I can see why, as the reasons set out otherwise decisions on dangerous tackles would be impossible to adjudicate on if one had to prove intent.
  • Inconsistency – this was disastrous and it happened time after time. There were differences in the evidence provided, even McCormick admitted there had been bad drafting. One minute the “pinch” was a wind up as admitted at the hearing, but previously it was “conciliatory”.
  • It was regarded as being very coincidental that evidence changed in light of the expert evidence, no doubt because Liverpool hoped this had given Suarez a way out. Liverpool had time to draft their statements, something went wrong.
  • There were inconsistencies between what Comolli said at the time, and also between what evidence was given by Kuyt. Suarez was left trying to argue that both were wrong, via plain error or misinterpretation. That cannot have looked good.
  • Why didn’t we refer to Evra’s past? That is a mystery to me I must admit, not least because at the time of Evra reporting this incident Dalglish was clear of his history. We were offered the chance to raise credibility factors and declined. Mud sticks and I would have thrown as much as I was able. Probably not the most professional approach but still.

I don’t think we can put too much weight on the purported inconsistencies in Evra and Ferguson’s evidence. Yes it didn’t match word for word (whether he said it 5, 7 or 10 times) but the inconsistencies occurred at the time the match finished, no doubt when tempers were frayed and where the media were desperate to put their angle on it.

I sadly think that United’s approach was largely consistent, and of course supported by the views of the referee. United and referees is of course a different article to write!

I am disappointed to conclude that whilst not being found to be racist Suarez was correctly found guilty of having used words that mean he committed the offence he was charged with.

Frankly he doesn’t come out of this well. We knew he had an edge, his previous bans and even the hair pull showed he can’t help but get involved in trouble. Acting in this way was stupid – end of.
It doesn’t matter if other players wind each other up. He was trying to upset Evra, and it worked but he went way too far. He was upsetting Evra simply by making him look a mug on the pitch.

People talk about how far Liverpool and Suarez will pursue this. The clubs sign up to these rules meaning that in theory all they can do is appeal and then go to the CAS in Switzerland.
An appeal is not a re-hearing. We would have to show that either there was some major administrative failing or that to reach the conclusion they did was so wrong it must be reversed. That I do not think can be achieved. Just because we do not like the outcome does not mean we can succeed.

There are other options, through the courts but they are to be regarded as the “nuclear” option as they would shake the foundations of the FA power and their rules.

A recent case involving Wayne Rooney attempted to take a dispute to the courts and failed, the courts confirming that the parties had agreed to abide by the rules they had signed up to. I would be surprised if a challenge to the courts would succeed.

That does not mean other litigation might not follow to attempt to clear Suarez’s name. Off the top of my head the Daily Mirror must be concerned. It had a headline of “Racist” despite Suarez not being found to be such.

I really hope I am wrong, and that Liverpool can get out of this mess (we have quite a record of pulling victory from the jaws of defeat – see Istanbul and ask Tom Hicks) but my instinct is that we need to move on. We shouldn’t punish ourselves either for the t shirts or the support given to our player, our hero.

The only justification for appeal is in respect of the size of the ban. The problem here is that as the Tribunal acknowledges this is a new area of law and that essentially they had a blank piece of paper to work with.

On that basis finding 8 games on the basis of aggravating factors is probably not unreasonable. I guess the best we can hope for is say 5 or 6 games but I don’t doubt a failed appeal would see an increased punishment.

If I were Kenny Dalglish (and thank goodness I am not in his shoes) I would accept the ban, carefully picking the date to do so to do the least damage in terms of big games missed, whilst issuing a strongly wording statement highlighting frustrations and again putting pressure on the FA to behave consistently and punish Evra for his foul and abusive language and the fact it was his misbehaviour that caused Suarez to react.

Ultimately Suarez is young, and we hope he will learn from his mistakes. What is certain is that his career with us is undoubtedly going to be a roller coaster of emotions.

57 Comments

  1. Mark Scanlon

    I think the main point now would be for Suarez to clear himself of the racist slur, the fine and ban are secondary to this. He isn’t going to get a fair hearing with the “English FA’s attitude of cultural imperialism” (copywright @RorySmithTimes).

    With the limited knowledge I have it looks like his best bet is the Court of Arbitration for Sport or perhaps FIFA – who would no doubt love to run the FA’s nose in it.

  2. drakerichards

    You can NOT find a man guilty on the word of his antagonist. Suarez big fault was his naivety ( or lousy advise) he should have kept his gob shut and let them prove if ANYthing was said

  3. Mark Peters

    Whilst I think you make a fair arguement I do have to disagree with you. I found myself reading the judgement getting more and more incredulous the more I read it. A few years ago I lead a campaign against Hampshire county council to stop a school being closed and was faced with similar documents to the report issued. I was told it wasnt worth the trouble,there was no way you could beat the system. So what did I do? I did a line by line rebuttal of the document and found what I considered to be 76 errors in both process and failure to follow the rules in a 90 page document. I took the appeal forward and only needed one of those errors to be agreed upon by an independent appeal panel. I got 30 of them agreed.
    The secret is to question every single thing and there are so many questionable decisions and use of process in this document as to be laughable. One example being how Evra was allowed to give his evidence alongside the video footage but Suarez wasnt. This questions fairness and impartiality in process never mind the decision, if you can argue failure of or lack of impartiality in the process ,then the case is winnable.

  4. Trevor Yong

    A very balanced and accurate review of the situation which I fully agree with. LFC should move on now and look to the future. We’ve learned a harsh lesson and can hopefully come out of this looking stronger and wiser.

  5. Good post, and I can totally see where you’re coming from but; I’m still standing by the use of the language and the culture barriers. Maybe I’m deluded, maybe not. This was also brought to my attention yesterday though, I don’t know if you’ve seen it or not:

    http://lfc.im/70

    • Patrick Ever

      Tom I’ve seen the piece attributed to a Professor at Brown university, has there been clarification that it actually comes from him?

      Also I think you’ll find it will be classed as just another piece of opinion, it won’t change the outcome or the fabric of the case, in my opinion Liverpool went to the panel ill prepared and got outgunned by a superior legal team, unless someone has video or audio footage to change the whole case then we need to accept our lot and get on with it

      • From the professor’s statement:

        “There is no way in the world he could have said to Evra, spontaneously and as a reaction to Evra’s words and attitudes, “porque tu eres negro”

        From the verdict:

        181. The experts noted that the use of the verb form “porque tu eres negro” is not the most usual form for Montevidean Spanish, since the form of the verb “ser” most commonly used would be the “vos” form, that is “porque (vos) sos negro”. Nevertheless, a small percentage of people from Montevideo do use the “tu” form (in contrast to Buenos Aires, where it is rarely used) or even a mixture of both. In the interview with Mr Suarez the transcription indicated to the experts that he uses the “tu” form of the verb, though there are other filmed interviews published on the internet in which he uses the “vos” form of the verb. Given that he has spent some considerable time in Europe it is possible that his use of Spanish alters between Uruguayan and European contexts. It is also possible that Mr Evra, who may have learned his Spanish in Spain, where the “vos” form is not used, may, when recalling the incident in interview, have rendered Mr Suarez’s usage as the “tu” form, even if Mr Suarez used the “vos” form.

        The good professor needs to re-read the report.

        • yes but the ‘good professors’ argument raises the point of how easily the use of different dialects can cause misunderstandings…and the fact that Commoli used the phrase tues negro which doesn’t even mean anything so how can they use his statement as evidence against Suarez? The fact that there were 5 different languages (one in 2 different dialects) spoken that day shows how easy wires could have been crossed and it still boils down to one mans word against another… I know he admitted saying it once ( which is the only evidence they should have used as everything else was hearsay) but now because of this report everyone thinks he said all those other things but there is no proof…

          • No, the good professor completely undermined his own argument by being factually incorrect when he claimed Suarez would never use the “tu” form when in fact, Suarez himself, in HIS own testimony to the panel, admitted to doing so.

            5 different languages spoken, yet Commoli and Kuyt happened to hear, in their native tongues, exactly the same words spoken from Suarez.

            “and it still boils down to one mans word against another…”

            It does not. Suarez’ own defence conceded that it was not simply a case of one man’s word against another. Suarez himself admitted to using the term, and in an unfriendly manner. Plus, it was both Commoli and Kuyt’s testimonies that provided much authentication to Evra’s version of events. Hence, there is adequate proof. It’s just that yourself and others choose not to see it.

        • “No, the good professor completely undermined his own argument by being factually incorrect when he claimed Suarez would never use the “tu” form when in fact, Suarez himself, in HIS own testimony to the panel, admitted to doing so.”
          Can you please point out from which page in the report that he admitted to doing so.

  6. you are biased against evra for no reason. evra was the victim here but you despise him. suarez was the guilty party, yet you love him. i think that tels everything. suarez is a cheater always going down after minimal contact. the same liverpool fans who booed ronaldo for his antics now love suarez who has taken those antics a step further. and too boot he has been proven to be a racist

    • Please get facts right SUAREZ HAS NOT BEEN ‘PROVED’ TO BE RACIST.he was found guilty of using abusive language in which he referred to Evra’s colour. The panel’s verdict went on to declare that he is not racist. There is a difference but perhaps that is too subtle for you to comprehend. Sadly too many people have gobbled up the verdict delivered by our gloriously xenophobic press without reading the findings of the panel. Evra was looking for a fight before the game kicked off – watch a replay if you do not believe me – sadly Suarez fell for the wind up.
      Excellent article by the way

  7. Feud for thought. Good piece.

  8. I would like to bring to the attention of the author the CAS judgment of 2008 involving Atletico Madrid which actually overturned a sanction imposed for similar allegations. All I can say to people is watch this space!

    The judgment is totally flawed.

  9. @Mark Scanlon Exactly. At the moment I couldn’t care less if Suarez was banned for the rest of the season so long as this ‘racist’ name he has now was cleared. The report is flawed. Bring to that the statement of a university professor and a native of Uraguay stating that the Spanish used in Evras statement and the Spanish used by Commoli is essentially non exsistant, I feel Suarez has grounds to bring it higher.
    Yes Suarez may be a wind up merchant but ive seen that kind of thing in players week in, week out. Grabbing private parts, whispering in ears, flicking bums and ear lobes all in a bid to distract the opposition. And yes Suarez admitted using the term negro and Evra, being of different culture, had every right to be upset, but I think his statement is a little far fetched. Especially as both players were surrounded by various members of both teams yet no one heard. Strange.
    I think the FA should have taken Suarez’s own admission and used it as a starting ground for other players of different cultures to know that the word will not be tolerated in England and imposed a lesser ban and fine. Instead the bad handing of this has ruined a mans reputation and sullied his time at Liverpool. I see him looking for a way out this summer….

  10. @patrick.. Yes I was on the professors Facebook page and the university website. It comes from him and is credible.

  11. David Sullivan

    Great piece, well done. This could be considered to be a companion article to Rory Smith’s thoughts on cultural hypocrisy.

    Like the author, I’m unhappy with the decision but I am in no way suffering from ‘blind loyalty’. I think the main issue is that Scousers don’t like being told what they should do by the Establishment. Liverpool FC, its managers, players and fans have all been told how they should behave and think for far too long and a lot of the reaction we’ve seen in the last week is perhaps driven by a deeply felt and often righteous objection to perceived injustice.

    But, it seems we have lost this battle. And the sooner LFC’s sporting and cultural leaders speak to their people like Paul Edwards has done here, the sooner we can move on. We need to take our lead from those we trust and not from institutions that don’t trust us.

    So, yes, let it go. Craft a statement that accepts the verdict but doesn’t agree with it; that supports our man but does not undermine the fight against racism and that, most importantly of all, validates the instincts of millions of Reds fans around the world to stand side by side with the Club that means so much to them.

    Then, hunt down the libellous rags and seek public apologies and damages for staining the reputation of a flawed but intrinsically good man.

  12. This article reflects my feelings on the report and whether the ban will stand or not. Nice one, Paul.

    One thing that still bugs me is that Suarez opened his mouth. All he, the club & the club’s brief had to say was ‘Not Guilty’. If we had left the burden of proof at the foot of Patrice Evra and his legal team, a quite diffrent verdict would have been reached. Arguing the nuances of language and expecting the FA to take on board those subtleties was a grave mistake. I hope the club learn from this.

    • Nigel S. Scott, Esq.

      Yes, he should have shut his mouth, escaped ban… and gotten away with racially abusing Evra (sympathetic victim that he is or not). Right is right and wrong is wrong. Suarez was wrong.

      Great piece… I disagree with the continued vilification of Evra, his indiscretions are no more egregious than Suarez’ own past indiscretions and his character no more checkered. Slinging mud for the purpose of slinging mud fails to address the larger issue. We should be interested in the right result being reached, not just what is favorable to Suarez’/LFC, fans.

      From Heysel to Hillsborough, Scousers have always felt set upon (and justifiably so) by those in authority. Our present reaction to the inquiry is no different… we reflexively circle the wagons rather than rationally assessing the flaws among our ranks. Suarez is no racist in my mind, he’s an impetuous, petulant young man who one hopes, has now learned his lesson, that he needs to clean up his act.

  13. Emperor Kenny

    “The low standard of proof would not help, though you will see that in view of the seriousness of the charge they confirmed that where possible Suarez may get the benefit of the doubt.”

    Agree the standard of proof itself is no basis for appeal, but disagree it was applied correctly. On the 6th and 7th findings of the word ‘negro’, they made the decision DESPITE Evra not even claiming the word was used then. They also said it was accurate for Evra to say a (different) word had been used 5 times in the refs room. ie, according to them, Evra remembered the word being said 5 times straight after the match, and accurately told Ferguson, who told the ref.

    So the 6th and 7th instances were findings which failed to properly apply the required standard of proof. These, at least, will be overturned on appeal.

    “We lost on the argument over what test was applicable, whether the offence or whether the abuse had to be committed intentionally or not. This objective/subjective point is crucial and despite our lawyers arguing otherwise we lost on it. I can see why, as the reasons set out otherwise decisions on dangerous tackles would be impossible to adjudicate on if one had to prove intent.”

    You can have different standards of “intent” for different offences, as in the normal criminal law.

    The reason the Commission was wrong at this point is that some words mean different things to different people. If I call someone “disabled” and they are offended because they think that word is inherently offensive, then am I guilty of insulting them even though I intended no such thing>

    But even getting this aspect of the decision changed would not help. The decision was that LS did intend to offend, and so commission would have found him guilty even using the test that our side proposed.

    “Inconsistency – this was disastrous and it happened time after time. There were differences in the evidence provided, even McCormick admitted there had been bad drafting. One minute the “pinch” was a wind up as admitted at the hearing, but previously it was “conciliatory””

    That’s not true. LS never said the pinch was conciliatory, and even the FA barrister knew that. LS statement said that he tried to defuse things during the conversation in the goal mouth. He never said the pinch, which came at the end of the discussion, was part of that. His written statement is perfectly with his evidence at the hearing. ie he first tried to defuse the situation, but PE was still aggressive, so he tried to show PE that he wasnt scared of him.

    The Commission’s interpretation of LS’s comments re the pinch is so badly wrong that it will not withstand an appeal.

    “I don’t think we can put too much weight on the purported inconsistencies in Evra and Ferguson’s evidence. Yes it didn’t match word for word (whether he said it 5, 7 or 10 times) but the inconsistencies occurred at the time the match finished, no doubt when tempers were frayed and where the media were desperate to put their angle on it.”

    Let’s be clear.

    The only time that there is evidence that PE complained of being racially abused on the pitch is that he said that he had been called “black” after being booked for pushing Kuyt.

    The Commission agreed he knew that he was booked for pushing Kuyt. Giggs said that he assumed that PE meant that Kuyt had called him “black”, which is what anybody would assume in the circumstances.

    Even PE agrees that he did not say that LS had called him “black” and nor does he say why LS calling him “black” would make him push Kuyt.

    PE is inconsistent about whether he said that he had been called black “again”, which would be an even clearer indication that he was suggesting Kuyt called him black.

    ie there is some evidence that PE tried to say his booking was because he reacted to Kuyt calling him “black”, and no evidence, even from PE, that he told either Giggs or the referee that he was upset because LS called him “black”. PE does say that this is what he meant.

    After the match, he doesnt say LS called him “black”. He says he called him “nigger”.

    PE can speak Spanish with LS, and also with Hernandez, Valencia, etc. He also knows obscene words, and words such as “kick”, “foul”, “punch”, etc in Spanish. However, PE claims that he didnt know one of the most common words in the language ie “negro”.

    He claims he did not know “negro” meant “black”. This is despite his evidence that he told the ref someone (by implication Kuyt, but according to PE, Suarez) called him “black”. So if it is true that his comment to the ref related to the allegation that LS said “negro”, then it follows that he knew “negro” meant “black”.

    Of course, PE said he thought it meant “nigger” but didnt like to use the word. We have all seen video evidence of him using the word. Besides, he was happy to use it after the match.

    In the ref’s room, PE purported to give an exact quote of the words, and Ferguson insisted they be written down. The exact quote was “I dont talk to you because you niggers”. Not “dale negro negro negro” or any other expression including “negro”.

    Yes, it was shortly after the match, but he was asking for his words to be written down, He wasnt speaking loosely.

    Meanwhile Suarez also spoke to Comolli straight after the match. Suarez didnt have anybody write his words down so he could check them for accuracy. What Comolli thought he heard was words which the Commissions’ own experts, and now a noted Uruguayan academic, have all said would not have been used by a Uruguayan. The words are what someone used to European Spanish might perceive had been said, but the words were not those which Suarez was likely to have said.

    So who is more likely to have made a mistake. PE giving dictation to Dowd with Marriner and Ferguson there and the gravity of the situation very clear. Or Comolli hearing LS speaking in circumstances in which LS may not have realised the importance of making sure that Comolli understood the EXACT words.

    PE’s later account was very different to what he told the refs.

    LS’s later account was very similar to what Comolli told the ref, and there is an obvious explanation for why the slight difference might have been Comolli making a mistake rather than LS changing his account.

    • Nigel S. Scott, Esq.

      Such a gross misstatement of the facts that one doesn’t even know where to begin.

      As the ref called them over Evra said to him “ref, ref, he just called me a fucking black”. Sounds like a complaint to me, no? When Kuyt he was booked he again remonstrated that Suarez called him black. Kuyt misheard and misinterpreted this to mean that Evra felt he was being booked by the ref because he’s black. Evra never made any such claim.

      The ref, in hindsight, after being told by Ferguson/Evra of the allegations… said “Oh… THATs what you meant when you said he called you “black” ” Thereby corroborating the fact htat Evra did indeed complain to him on the pitch. To boldly, and baldly say that PE never complained of being called black, by SUAREZ, makes me wonder if you’re drinking from the same cup of delusion as are LFC.

      • Emperor Kenny

        “As the ref called them over Evra said to him “ref, ref, he just called me a fucking black”. ”

        There was no corroboration of that, and no explanation of why no player heard him shout to the referee across a crowded penalty box.

        “When Kuyt he was booked he again remonstrated that Suarez called him black.”

        He never referred to Suarez. Even Giggs thought he meant Kuyt, as anyone would given that he was justifying his push on Kuyt.

        “The ref, in hindsight, …. Thereby corroborating ”

        Only PE said that the ref said that. Neither the ref nor Ferguson reported the ref saying that. AFAIK neither did Dowd.

  14. After my first reading of the FA findings i pretty much shared your views. After a few more readings, i now believe that this report is a bucketload of disjointed and rushed together commentary (it took awhile to put together but in fact i think it was rushed) that highlights the lack of any real evidence.

    The findings are full of inconsistenties and non-sequiters.

    – Evras verbals to Suarez are given a subjective test, Suarez’s arent.
    – Evras incredible memory for counting how many times he heard “negro” isnt questioned,
    – nor is it questioned as to why he didnt complain to Marriner at the earliest opportunity.
    – Suarez’s answer to the questioning about calming things down in the goalmouth has been repurposed to make it inconsistent with the pinch. Read that section carefully.
    – the Man Utd player’s statements are not consistent yet are passed through.
    – the quotations attributed to Suarez use mind boggling incorrect Spanish grammar

    In my view Evra was pinched by Suarez. He felt it. He told Suarez to not touch him. Luis says “porque, negro?”. Evra ran to the ref. Inexplicably Marriner didn’t hear the complaint properly. Evra didn’t check that Marriner heard. Luis touched his head, Evra pushed it away, Marriner told them to calm down. Only when Evra was booked did he claim to have told Marriner he was being called Black. Everyone thought this was an accusation at Dirk. Bizarre.

    Lastly, the coin toss incident tells you all you need to know about Evra. In fact, just reading that story i was shocked. This incident was treated almost as if it was normal .. a player questioning the ref on a coin toss?? What kind of captain seriously does that? He was trying to get an advantage as he was 60 minutes later when provoking Suarez.

  15. That’s a fairly reasonable article, however, like the media at large, you also are taking the English literal meaning of the five letter word which Luis has admitted using (negro) and presenting it as proof of Luis’s guilt.

    There’s no attempt to explore the meaning in the cultural-linguistic context in which it was originally used – and that this is dismissed as not even being worthy of discussion smacks of xenophobic arrogance.

    • @Glynn.. Correct. They are dismissing ones mans cultural background in favour of another. Which in a sense can be seen as a form of racism on the FA’s part…

      • I don’t think they are. Their argument is that no matter the language being spoken, no matter the cultural context, a reference to race/ethnicity/skin colour in the context of a ‘heated debate’ is judged according to whether it’s offensive in English. That’s why the context Evra gave was so important. He opened the conversation by abusing Suarez in Spanish and the conversation was at times heated. Therefore, Suarez would have automatically received at least a 4 match ban.

        He used a word which was open to ambiguous interpretation. Personally, if we’re going to take that approach that this commission has taken, a 4 match ban cannot be argued against. As long as it’s clear that he was not intending to racially abuse Evra and we make sure in future that players from different cultures and speaking different languages are clear that what they say will be judged in an English cultural context. (We can argue whether that’s right or wrong but I can see where the FA will be coming from here). And as long as all cases similar to this are treated in exactly the same way.

        • So are we saying that all visitors from Uruguay should desist from using that word or turn of phrase, just in case they are overheard and somebody offended?

      • Nigel S. Scott, Esq.

        No, it simply means the “subjective” test is inapplicable where one uses objectively prohibited language. Even taking what Suarez intended into consideration, it still does not help him since he admits that he was not trying to calm things down when he said it (and simultaneously ‘pinched’ Evra’s arm)… but rather was trying to wind him up… just as he was when he ‘patted’ him on the head.

  16. @Tom,

    I think paragraph 181 of the report basically deals with those claims. It says that Suarez used the ‘tu’ form of the verb in his interviews with them, and having been living in Europe for 5 years, it’s possible his use of Spanish alters between Uruguayan and European contexts. As well as the fact Evra (and Comollli presumably), having learnt their Spanish in Europe may have heard the ‘vos’ form from Suarez, but when recalling it for the panel, rendered it as the ‘tu’ form.

    Here’s the report link (see paragraph 181): http://www.thefa.com/TheFA/Disciplinary/NewsAndFeatures/2011/~/media/Files/PDF/TheFA/Disciplinary/Written%20reasons/FA%20v%20Suarez%20Written%20Reasons%20of%20Regulatory%20Commission.ashx

  17. Balanced discussion but I don’t agree with the conclusion.

    Why should you get 8 match ban for saying the word black? You wouldn’t, so it comes down to believing Evra rather than Suarez that the word black was used in a racist way.

    My impression is that Evra is not very good in Spanish and he misunderstood Suarez to mean n1gger when he just meant black. And then he discovered his misunderstanding (which he has admitted) – but then it was too late to back out as it was already reported to FA and the media.

    http://forums.thisisanfield.com/showthread.php?30752-FA-Charge-LFC-and-Suarez…&p=921808&viewfull=1#post921808

  18. Like you I’m not a lawyer but I’ve been involved in arbitration/adjudication disputes.

    What struck me about the report even after reading barely a quarter of it was its adversarial approach. This was no impartial judgement. Rather it bore the hallmark of a submission seeking to support the testimony of one player and discredit the other.

    Of course, some had said this from the moment the FA announced their intention to proceed with a prosecution and I must admit I was one of those who never believed such a high profile ‘investigation’ could be conducted with flagrant bias of this nature.

    It seems I was entirely wrong in my initial view that a body would have the nerve to be so remiss publically. I’m convinced having now read the report through twice that I’m not wrong now.

  19. So is it correct to say Mr. Edwards, that your main thrust is not that Suarez IS guilty but that you understand why he was FOUND guilty? You say ‘it transpires that Suarez and Liverpool had received the paperwork the day before’ it was more widely published; but everyone who had been following the case knew that this was going to happen.

    Another comment you make is that you’ve read ‘hundreds of tweets & blogs about the Suarez verdict & just as many about the 115 pages of reasons published…’ – maybe you have, so what?

    It’s also very interesting that you don’t get into facts or evidence, or even look at the basis of the arguments; whilst postulating that fans’ personal antipathies shouldn’t apply – damn right they don’t; this is about Equality & anti-Racism, which clearly shouldn’t be ‘allowed’ for our mixed-race No.7

  20. James Caslin

    Im genuinely not arsed about the ban any more, what I care about is that one of our players has been falsely accused of racial abuse, if you are to believe Suarez, which I do. Suarez admits saying the word once in a manor which he clearly felt non offensive, Evra has accused him of saying not just the word, but of intent which is clearly racist, kicking him because he is black??? Doesn’t get any more racist!!!! Lack of evidence, players temperament, history, etc etc, it all boils down to who do you believe Suarez or Evra, and if you believe Suarez that means that Patrice Evra is lying. people seem to say “well he must have said something more than he admitted” but why, why is is more fantastical to believe that Evra has actually maliciously made up stuff, than Suarez has maliciously said those things??? Evra’s past controversies, if anyone was the type to lie…..

  21. Samuel Asamoah

    Good post Ryan.
    The report itself is a mockery of what the FA used to stand for. Full of legal jargon and woffle. I abhor racism and Suarez should’e walked than verbally tangle with a fool such as Patrice Evra. Who I found a despicable human being before this incident. Everyone is quick to accept the FA’s ruling and report. They’re quick to forget how incompetent they have been over the years before. Suarez is a Liverpool player. Not the smartest tool in the shed, but a great player. And by no means a racist. Now everyone says Liverpool is a racist club. What a bunch of clueless imbeciles.
    If he gets banned he gets banned. Let’s get back to winning games and chasing our top 4 dream.

  22. Paul Edwards

    A quick thank you for the comments, much appreciated.

    To JimH yes I have set out my position – Suarez is NOT a racist but he has technically committed the offence he was charged with. I understand how that happened in light of the reasoning of the tribunal.

    It doesn’t mean I like it or believe that Suarez is racist!

    To Glyn – the meanings of the word or the intention behind the word is almost irrelevant as its use in whatever context satisfies the test needed for an offence to be committed. To me that is too hard a test in a case like this but I can see why intention cannot be required for all offences such as bad tackles etc.

    Ideally things like this would have a totally different code of conduct and not be conducted under a regime where a rare case like this is shoe horned into regulations generally aimed at other, more minor, offences.

  23. Thanks for the balanced and sensible article. I completely agree with it. The club are batting on a losing wicket with this. The best way forward is to accept it and make a few symbolic gestures. I was desperate for a different outcome but Suarez came out of this looking very weak.

    If we do extend the agony and appeal reputational damage will accrue. Not good. Outside of the LFC fanbase bubble this is playing very badly, we’re basically swimming against an historical social tide that states that race is a no-no of the highest order.

  24. The verdict can’t be overturned. I don’t agree with it but that’s that. The ban is another thing.

    If inconsistancy is what Suarez has been condemmed with, then I think they should appeal and get the ban reduced, because the process, the report and Evra’s evidence are all inconsistant.

    Then they should try to move on and be more wise now to how the FA operate.

  25. @timelord – was Evra fouled when he went down rolling round and round or was he cheating? He then claimed Suarez kicked him when video evidence showed nothing of the sort.

    Did Evra claim that Suarez called him a Nigger when nothing of the sort was said?

    Time to move on and let this drop as nobody comes out looking good.

  26. I don’t think LS would appreciate hearing Liverpool fans suggesting that LFC should accept the punishment, sweep it all under the carpet & move on in order to protect LFC’s reputation! What about Suarez’ reputation which is now in tatters? What about the threat of permanent suspension contained in the verdict for any further/similar incidents – opposition players will be more than happy to taunt him into a similar incident to get him banned for life. Doesn’t the player have the right to do everything he can to clear his name? Football is his livlihood afterall & this outcome is largely due to an incompetent legal team. I suspect right now LS is probably feeling rather let-down by LFC, not to take away from his own role in where he now finds himself.

  27. ‘To Glyn – the meanings of the word or the intention behind the word is almost irrelevant as its use in whatever context satisfies the test needed for an offence to be committed.’

    But, as the Regulation 7.3 of the Disciplinary Regulations states,

    “The applicable standard of proof shall be the flexible civil standard of the balance of
    probability. The more serious the allegation, taking into account the nature of the
    Misconduct alleged and the context of the case, the greater the burden of evidence
    required to prove the matter.”

    Also, indeed, at points 79 & 80 of the Report it states :

    ’79. Regulation 7.3 includes an important reference to the civil standard of proof being flexible.
    This means, as the Regulation states, that the more serious the allegation, taking into
    account the nature of the Misconduct alleged and the context of the case, the greater the burden of evidence required to prove the matter. This is sometimes described in this way:
    the more serious the allegation, the less likely it is to have happened, and therefore the
    greater the burden of evidence required to prove that it did. This does not set the standard any higher than the balance of probability. But, the more serious the allegation, the greater the burden of evidence required to prove the matter to that standard.
    80. The FA accepts that the Charge against Mr Suarez is serious, as do we. It is for this reason that we have reminded ourselves that a greater burden of evidence is required to prove the Charge against Mr Suarez.’

    This last point is emphasised at point 75 of the Report in relation to the ‘burden of proof’, where it states :

    ’75. It is common ground between the parties that the burden of proving a breach of Rule E3(1) and (2) lies on the FA. It is not for Mr Suarez to satisfy the Commission that he did not breach the Rules. Rather, it is for the FA to satisfy us to the required standard that Mr Suarez did breach the Rules.’

    So, given the complete lack of corroborative evidence and purely taking Evra’s account as the only credible version (very subjective !) the Commission, the FA and yourself have been satisfied that this section of the Rules has been complied with ? Hmmm, very interesting.

  28. a poor comment that should have been though not written down in public..you dont shit on your own doormat and then call yer mates round to look at it.

    Support the club.

  29. The whole thing has concluded as one biased joke. In actual fact both players fell short of FA rule E3 but only one was punished.

    A false cry from the start of the complaint when the N1gger word is claimed to have been used.

    Inconstancies exist throughout the investigation for both sides.

    Aspects of PE’s evidence is as unreliable as LS’s is claimed to be yet convenient blindness prevails and the skill of ignorance is used well.

    Questions could be raised against the translations used as evidence.

    PE was given benefit of the doubt from every angle of the investigations, LS was not, if anything could be taken as negative towards LS it was.

    PE falls short on FA rule E3 himself but for some reason that goes unpunished.

    Equality is a great thing but some people are served greater equality than others.

    The FA double standard biased handling & concluding of this incident has done zilch for real racism. It’s only muddied the understanding of it and in the process shown that false accusations actually do pay off.

    The FA and their so called independent commission are a disgrace.

  30. Not sure if the ‘SUAREZ: WHY THE GUILTY VERDICT WAS CORRECT’ title is a bad one or this is an example of more blindness and towards the one-sided and questionable aspects of the report.

    People are free to have an opinion but SUAREZ: WHY THE GUILTY VERDICT WAS CORRECT.

    Someone’s gone down the drain in my estimations.

  31. Paul Edwards

    Tideswellman
    3 January 2012 at 11:26 pm
    a poor comment that should have been though not written down in public..you dont shit on your own doormat and then call yer mates round to look at it.

    Support the club.

    Complete tosh that mate, we aren’t living in Soviet Russia or Communist China, we can think freely! And don’t think I don’t support the club, I probably do so more than many

  32. TornyiBarnabasazIsten

    Suárez is innocent! He just asked Evra about this Hungarian candy!

    http://www.gyartotol.hu/products/high/5998711350758.jpg

  33. Excellent article Paul.

    If evidence is handled that way as standard in similar tribunals, then you just hope never to be on the wrong end of that kind of bias at any time yourself, because you’re powerless to do anything about it.

  34. Paul Edwards

    Thanks Roy. To show how bad Tribunals can be I did one where we openly alleged bias against the Chairman. He had holidayed on the yacht owned by the other side and during the hearing he went for lunch every day with the other side. We tried to get him to resign but he refused.

    Out of 9 legal points we should have won 6 or 7 of them – we lost on all 9. Our appeal was rejected because despite our concerns the judgment was still regarded as being watertight!

    My client lost £millions on it. The Chairman was never used again however but the damage was done.

    Shit happens and here it well and truly did happen!

  35. Sir Humpalot

    Someone needs to trawl through al lthe websites, articles, podcasts and message boards about this case and match a line by line rebuttal of Evra’s case to the video evidence and put it on Youtube.

    The court of public opoinion should shame the FA ino changing its procedures.

  36. You start with “I despise Evra and I love Suarez”. And you expect this post to be taken seriously?

  37. Simon Hodge

    I find it hard to believe Suarez addressing Evra and bringing up his colour in any way other than derogative. There are clear cultural differences regarding race in Uruguay. Suarez has black grandparents and made the point, almost everyone in Uruguay is “dark skinned”. But Suarez was clearly using colour against Evra and trying to demean him based on skin colour – the definition of racism.

    The players have been very naive – the unnecessary public show of support, without knowing the facts was stupid. Dalglish should have put a stop to that… not wear a fucking t-shirt too – where’s the dignity that KD should have restored after 20 years?!
    It’s just another example of the Liverpudlian culture – “the whole world’s out to get us” and the blind faith that goes hand in hand with supporting Liverpool (most Liverpool fans still won’t believe Suarez is the most blatant diver in the league: “it’s refs and BBC who are out to get the club”.) And as per usual no one associated with the club can give rational criticism without being vilified by supporters and the ‘old guard’.

    This is not the first brainless thing Suarez has done on a football pitch, and it won’t the last. He’s a fantastic player – we’ve probably got him for one more year… maybe two (we won’t be in Champs League for at least 3 years). Hopefully he serves his ban and gets back to scoring some goals… alongside Stevie.

  38. LIVERBUDDY

    http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/news/Video-Patrice-Evra-using-the-N-word-article849460.html

    So what are people’s views now, considering that Patrice Evra’s testimony was based on the FACT the “n” word is not one he uses and he finds offensive in light of the video uncovered yesterday by the press?
    Surely it calls Evra’s testimony into question which is the basis for which The FA came to their conclusion and should be deemed unreliable by The FA now.

    Luis Suarez and Liverpool have said all along that the only thing Luis Suarez is guilty of is being ethically incorrect in a country he’d only been in for 9 months! There are plenty of experts out there who believe the words Luis Suarez spoke to Patrice Evra were lost in translation and that Luis Suarez needs educating not isolating which is what The FA did by handing such an excessive ban and fine to Luis Suarez!

    The whole FA Disciplinary Commission Hearing investigation into the incident has been very questionable…how could they have used language experts from MANCHESTER UNIVERSITY in the Colombian form of Spanish? how could they have used 2 of the 3 FA Disciplinary Commission Hearing panel members who could not have been unimpeachably impartial due to links to Manchester United, The Ferguson Family and Wayne Rooney? How could Liverpool FC and Luis Suarez know that The FA on a whole have been unimpeachably impartial when Manchester United’s CEO Daid Gill is a Board Member of The FA and Liverpool FC do not have any representative to oversee how the whole process was conducted?

    At the end of the day, it was the words of 2 football players on a football pitch that The FA had to base their whole Disciplinary investigation on. Now the integrity of the player who The FA found his testimony more “probable” due to inconsistencies of the other player, has now been shot to bits in light of the video evidence found! There is no “probable” with this evidence, it is “beyond reasonable doubt” which is what any fundamental principal of justice should be applied in all spheres of conflict including the conduct of disciplinary hearings, should be based on!

    Currently the silence is deafening emanating from The FA over this new “beyond reasonable doubt” evidence! It’ll be interesting to see what happens next?

  39. Dear Paul,

    I don´t agree with you regarding your nain coclussions althogh I do agree with most of it. Let me explain myself: there are mant flaws and errors that if weren´t presented the case would be undermined with respect of the “balance of probabilities”.
    All this story started with “La concha de tu hermana” (your sisters pussy) admitted by Evra and pronounced in Spanish. This is mainly an insult used in Argentina and Uruguay. It could be used in other countries but there is an important difference: the world “concha” is synonymous of “pussy” in these two countries. In ALL other Spanish speaking language the world is used for “shell” so the insult is absolutely different. As another example, the word “cojer” is “fuck” in Argentina and Uruguay while it means “holding” in any other country. That´s so embedded in colloquial speaking that in Argentina they use the word “agarrar” to mean “hold”.

    So Evra knows the difference of impact of using this insult to Suarez as compared to any other Spanish speaking player.
    Using this insult changes all what happened afterwards. Evra was inducing end indeed changed the cultural rules of the discussion to Suarez culture. It is what experts (of course there was nobody knowing this in the expert commission team) name “Change of Sociological Context”.

    So the argument that this happened in England still stands but as the commission did, and was accurately, they entered deeply in cultural topics. But they do it poorly and with incredible flaws. The most significant is the discussion is about “tu eres negro” or “vos sos negro”. They mention Montevideo way of speaking, omitting (I think because of lack of expertise) that Suarez is no from Montevideo, but from Salto where this terms are interchanged.

    On the other hand nobody takes into account the social and cultural background of Suarez. He could never said “porque tu eres negro”. It´s like if an uncultured English speaking person said “Mr. Evra, you seldom dive, but I …… whatsoever”.

    Summarizing, it was a good decision made by the commission to discuss in terms of culture because Evra intentionally or by chance set up all confrontation in a different than English culture. The mistake was that the Speaking Languaje Experts were not at level. Another example is “tues negro” that they do not even mention that is not Spanish. That phrase does not mean anything in Spanish and the made a strong argumentation based on it!!!!!!! Worse; they even translated!!!!!!

    I know, from my own experience (I lived 4 years in Spain, 1 in France and 2 in Thailand) that understanding a different culture is difficult, takes time and sometimes requires help. But deciding to put a man in the guillotine of the press and the public opinion requires to be much more professional. This smells like the inquisition not a process in England in the XXI century.
    Last but not least to show the lack of expertise of the so called “language experts” they do not mention the “Real Academia Española” that is the highest authority, in Spanish Language and its dictionary is accessible via web site http://www.rae.es. Anyone and everywhere when dealing with a Spanish issue knows the RAE and uses it as the main source of information.

    I agree with Suarez and Liverpool that all this process hasn´t any level of seriousness and you cannot say sorry based on their argumentation.

    JA

  40. I believe the club was right to support Suarez, and I also agree with the T-Shirts, In the first instance, to do anything else would have been to isolate the player, even to undermine his statement of innocence, and in the second, the gesture told the fans that the club still believed in Suarez. You either believe your player to be innocent, or you don’t. And if you believe him to be innocent, you are entitled to demonstrate that belief. It does not follow that by doing so you condone the crime he is alleged to have committed. At least that would be the case in a country where the general population were interested in the truth about such things, rather than just being interested in a reaction. Suarez just didn’t pick the wrong player to get into an argument with, he picked the wrong country to do it in.
    Ultimately though, he did refer to the colour of Evra’s skin. All the cuntage that followed is irrelevant. Now, speaking of cuntage, bring on Terry

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