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What Luis Suarez’s 8-match ban means to Liverpool, the player & anti-racism in football

December 21, 2011 By Angela Asante
Luis Suarez has been hit with one of the toughest bans in the history of the Premier League as English football chiefs claim to be at work against racism.
The Liverpool striker received an 8-match ban in addition to a £40,000 fine for being found guilty of racial abuse against Manchester United’s French defender Patrice Evra during a league match on October 15, 2011. According to reports, Suarez didn’t deny repeatedly using words which referred to Evra’s skin color and African origins.

The Liverpool forward, however, claimed that the word “negrito” he used is acceptable and not racist in Uruguay. But the Independent Regulatory Commission composed of three men, including Paul Goulding QC, would hear none of Luis Suarez’s explanations.

Football Against Racism in Europe’s Piara Powar insisted that “negrito” sounded “racially offensive” in any case. Devastated by the issue, Luis Suarez left the following notes on his Twitter account:

“Today is a very difficult and painful day for both me and my family. Thanks for all the support. I'll keep working!”

“I'm upset by accusations of racism. I can only say that I have always respected and respect everybody.”

“We are all the same. I go to the field with the maximum illusion of a little child who enjoys what he does, not to create conflicts.”

However, Suarez’s ban won’t start immediately. The player, who should be available for Liverpool throughout the winter period, has been given a maximum of two weeks to decide on appealing. Should he take the risk of contesting the 8-match ban verdict, an independent appeal board working under the FA will hear the case.

Suarez will serve his ban immediately, should he appeal without success. Otherwise, his sentence has been scheduled to begin in January 2012 after the 14-day period.

This will force Liverpool to affront the likes of Stoke, Bolton Wanderers, Wolves and Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League without their star striker. The Merseyside Reds will also have to deal with Suarez’s absence during their crunch two-legged semi-final tie against Manchester City in the Carling Cup and against Oldham in the FA Cup.

“We reserve our right to appeal or take any action we feel appropriate,” a Liverpool spokesman stated following the FA’s ruling.

“We find it extraordinary that Luis can be found guilty on the word of Patrice Evra alone when no one else on the field of play heard the alleged conversation.

“Patrice Evra himself in his written statement said, 'I don't think that Luis Suarez is racist'. The FA in their opening remarks accepted that Luis Suarez was not racist.”

For anti-racism campaigners around the world, Luis Suarez’s ban appears as a victory as Kick It Out chairman Lord Herman Ouseley proudly told reporters:

“The FA has shown leadership. It has demonstrated it will not stand for discrimination — something organizations such as FIFA and UEFA should take heed of.”

In July 2010, Luis Suarez infuriated African football fans by using his hand to punch what would have been Ghana’s extra-time winner against Uruguay in the semi-finals of the World Cup. He received a straight red card for this offense.

Suarez gathered more enemies in the aftermath of this dramatic incident when he told the press that he was greater than “Hand-of-God” maker Maradona besides revealing that his training as a goalkeeper had finally paid off on the big stage at the benefit of his beloved country, Uruguay.

In November 2010, the former Ajax goal poacher disgusted the public and received a 7-match ban for biting the ear of PSV's Otman Bakkal. He got branded as the "Cannibal of Ajax".

On December 7, 2011, Luis Suarez was charged with improper conduct by the English FA for reacting against Fulham supporters with the one-finger gesture.

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