LONDON, England December 21 – Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was hit with an eight-game ban on Tuesday after a Football Association disciplinary hearing found he had racially abused Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
An unusually lengthy hearing that started last Wednesday, which itself followed a month long investigation, eventually determined Suarez — who was also fined £40,000 — had abused Evra during a 1-1 Premier League draw at Anfield on October 15.
Suarez said that the decision had hit him hard.
“Today (Tuesday) is a very difficult and painful day for both me and my family. Thanks for all the support, I’ll keep working!” tweeted the 24-year-old Uruguayan international striker.
Evra had revealed immediately after the match that Suarez had repeatedly abused him.
Evra, speaking to French television station Canal Plus, said Suarez had racially abused him “more than 10 times” during the game.
“I was very upset,” Evra said. “In 2011 you can’t say things like this. He knows what he said, the ref knows it, it will come out.
“I won’t repeat what he said, but it was a racist word, and he said it more than ten times. He tried to wind me up. I won’t make a huge deal out of it, but it’s very upsetting and disappointing.”
And the FA disciplinary panel agreed with Evra, their statement Tuesday saying: “An independent regulatory commission has today found a charge of misconduct against Luis Suarez proven, and have issued a suspension for a period of eight matches as well as fining him £40,000, pending appeal.”
The commission’s ruling stated: “Mr Suarez used insulting words towards Mr Evra during the match contrary to FA Rule E3(1);
“The insulting words used by Mr Suarez included a reference to Mr Evra’s colour within the meaning of Rule E3(2);
“Mr Suarez shall be warned as to his future conduct, be suspended for eight matches covering all first team competitive matches and fined the sum of £40,000;
“The (penalty) is suspended pending the outcome of any appeal lodged by Mr Suarez against this decision.”
Liverpool, who were repeatedly firm in support of Suarez, said Tuesday they “were very surprised and disappointed” by the FA verdict.
They added they would “consider our right to appeal or take any other course of action we feel appropriate with regards to this situation”.
In a lengthy statement Liverpool said it remained their view that Suarez “did not commit any racist act” in the match.
“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 – including Evra’s own Manchester United teammates and all the match officials – heard the alleged conversation between the two players in a crowded Kop goalmouth while a corner kick was about to be taken,” the statement said.
“LFC considers racism in any form to be unacceptable – without compromise. It is our strong held belief, having gone over the facts of the case, that Luis Suarez did not commit any racist act.”
“It is also our opinion that the accusation by this particular player was not credible – certainly no more credible than his prior unfounded accusations,” the statement said.
This was a thinly veiled reference to a 2008 scuffle between French international Evra and Chelsea groundstaff, which branded the defender’s testimony “exaggerated and unreliable.”
Liverpool’s statement added: “We would also like to know when the FA intend to charge Patrice Evra with making abusive remarks to an opponent after he admitted himself in his evidence to insulting Luis Suarez in Spanish in the most objectionable of terms.”
Suarez, signed for £23 million from Dutch side Ajax in January, has scored eight goals in 19 Liverpool appearances so far this season.
Given he remains free to play while any appeal is in progress, he could feature in Wednesday’s league match away to Wigan.