FA: Suarez gave "unreliable" evidence

Liverpool's Luis Suarez gave "unreliable" and "inconsistent" evidence to the commission investigating claims that he racially abused Manchester United's Patrice Evra.

Luis Suarez

Archive: FA had to throw the book at Suarez

The Football Association released the independent regulatory commission's full written reasons on Saturday evening on its website.

The 115-page document goes into detail of the case and the conversation the two players had during the match at Anfield on October 15.

On December 20, following a lengthy investigation by an Independent Regulatory Commission, the FA announced that Suarez would be banned for eight matches and fined £40,000 for racially abusing Evra.

The ban was suspended pending an appeal by the Merseyside club.

The report stated in its summary: "Mr Evra was a credible witness. He gave his evidence in a calm, composed and clear way. It was, for the most part, consistent, although both he and Mr Suarez were understandably unable to remember every detail of the exchanges between them.

"Mr Suarez's evidence was unreliable in relation to matters of critical importance. It was, in part, inconsistent with the contemporaneous evidence, especially the video footage. For example, Mr Suarez said that he pinched Mr Evra's skin in an attempt to defuse the situation. He also said that his use of the word 'negro' to address Mr Evra was conciliatory and friendly. We rejected that evidence.

"To describe his own behaviour in that way was unsustainable and simply incredible given that the players were engaged in an acrimonious argument. That this was put forward by Mr Suarez was surprising and seriously undermined the reliability of his evidence on other matters.

"There were also inconsistencies between his accounts given at different times as to what happened."

The incident was triggered in the 58th minute of the match when Suarez fouled Evra. Five minutes later the Manchester United defender was marking Suarez at a Liverpool corner, the first time the two players had come together since the foul.

The two players were then involved in a row, and they were spoken to by the referee Andre Marriner.

Evra made a complaint to the referee at the time and after the game, which triggered an FA investigation.

On November 16 Suarez was charged with using abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour towards Evra, including a reference Evra's ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race.

Between December 14 and December 20 the commission heard evidence about the incident from the match officials and staff from the two clubs including Ryan Giggs, Sir Alex Ferguson and Kenny Dalglish.

The FA's case, according to the report, was 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."

According the the report, Evra then told Suarez he was going to hit him, to which the Uruguay international replied in Spanish: "Dale, negro, negro, negro." That translates to "okay, blackie, blackie, blackie".

Suarez denied the charge. The report stated that Suarez said he "used the word 'negro' in a way with which he was familiar from his upbringing in Uruguay".

The report said: "In this sense, Mr Suarez claimed, it is used as a noun and as a friendly form of address to people seen as black or brown-skinned (or even just black-haired).

"Suarez maintained that when he said "Por que, negro?" to Evra, it was intended in a conciliatory and friendly way. Suarez said this was the only time that he used the word "negro" in his exchanges with Mr Evra during the match.

As part of its investigation, the FA instructed two experts to prepare a written report on the linguistic and cultural interpretations of the words "negro" and "negros" in Rioplatense Spanish.

Evra also said in his evidence to the commission that Suarez went to touch him and was gesturing at his skin. The report said it looked like Suarez pinched Evra, which the Liverpool player admitted to in his original witness statement to "diffuse the situation".

The language experts concluded that, after analysing Evra's account of the incident, Suarez's use of the words "negro" and "negros" would be understood as offensive in racial terms in Uruguay and Spanish-speaking America. The physical gesture of touching Mr Evra's arm would also, in the context of the phrases used, be interpreted as racist, said the report.

However when the experts looked at Suarez's version of events, they concluded that the terms he used would not be interpreted as racist in Uruguay and Spanish-speaking America.

The commission said in the report that in order to come to a conclusion, it was important to look closely at the credibility and reliability of the witnesses.

Evra, said the commission, was "an impressive witness" who "demonstrated a measure of balance in his evidence".

The commission admitted that Suarez was undergoing a stressful time, but said he was "not as impressive a witness as Mr Evra".

In evidence to the commission, Suarez eventually admitted that the pinching of Evra was not an attempt to diffuse the situation.

"This was one example of where Mr Suarez's witness statement was demonstrated to be inconsistent with the facts as shown in the video footage. No satisfactory explanation was given for this inconsistency," said the report.

Another area focussed on in the findings was Suarez's claim that the term he used was "meant in a conciliatory and friendly way".

The commission's members did not agree and stated: "The suggestion that he behaved towards Mr Evra at this time in a conciliatory and friendly way, or intended to do so in using the word "negro", is, in our judgment, simply not credible."

The commission found that because the conversation took place during "heated exchanges" which were "confrontational and argumentative" then the interpretation of Suarez's comments to Evra were offensive.

Describing the reason for the severity of the sentence, the commission said: "If professional footballers use racially insulting language on a football pitch, this is likely to have a corrosive effect on young football fans, some of whom are the professional footballers of the future. It also has a potentially damaging effect on the wider football community and society generally. Every professional footballer should be able to play competitive football in the knowledge that references to the colour of his skin will not be tolerated. The same goes for all levels of football.

"Those who are victims of misconduct of this nature should know that, if they complain and their complaint is upheld, the FA will impose an appropriate penalty which reflects the gravity of this type of misconduct."

The commission concluded: "The charge against Mr Suarez was that he used insulting words which included a reference to Mr Evra's colour. We have found that charge proved on the evidence and arguments put before us. The FA made clear that it did not contend that Mr Suarez acted as he did because he is a racist. Mr Evra said in his evidence that he did not think Mr Suarez is a racist.

"Mr Suarez said in evidence that he will not use the word "negro" on a football pitch in England in the future, and we believe that is his genuine and firm intention."

Suarez maintained that when he said "Por que, negro?" to Evra, it was intended in a conciliatory and friendly way. Suarez said this was the only time that he used the word "negro" in his exchanges with Mr Evra during the match.

As part of its investigation, the FA instructed two experts to prepare a written report on the linguistic and cultural interpretations of the words "negro" and "negros" in Rioplatense Spanish.

Evra also said in his evidence to the commission that Suarez went to touch him and was gesturing at his skin. The report said it looked like Suarez pinched Evra, which the Liverpool player admitted to in his original witness statement to "diffuse the situation".

The language experts concluded that, after analysing Evra's account of the incident, Suarez's use of the words "negro" and "negros" would be understood as offensive in racial terms in Uruguay and Spanish-speaking America. The physical gesture of touching Mr Evra's arm would also, in the context of the phrases used, be interpreted as racist, said the report.

However when the experts looked at Suarez's version of events, they concluded that the terms he used would not be interpreted as racist in Uruguay and Spanish-speaking America.

The commission said in the report that in order to come to a conclusion, it was important to look closely at the credibility and reliability of the witnesses.

Evra, said the commission, was "an impressive witness" who "demonstrated a measure of balance in his evidence".

The commission admitted that Suarez was undergoing a stressful time, but said he was "not as impressive a witness as Mr Evra".

In evidence to the commission, Suarez eventually admitted that the pinching of Evra was not an attempt to diffuse the situation.

"This was one example of where Mr Suarez's witness statement was demonstrated to be inconsistent with the facts as shown in the video footage. No satisfactory explanation was given for this inconsistency," said the report.

Another area focussed on in the findings was Suarez's claim that the term he used was "meant in a conciliatory and friendly way".

The commission's members did not agree and stated: "The suggestion that he behaved towards Mr Evra at this time in a conciliatory and friendly way, or intended to do so in using the word "negro", is, in our judgment, simply not credible."

The commission found that because the conversation took place during "heated exchanges" which were "confrontational and argumentative" then the interpretation of Suarez's comments to Evra were offensive.

Describing the reason for the severity of the sentence, the commission said: "If professional footballers use racially insulting language on a football pitch, this is likely to have a corrosive effect on young football fans, some of whom are the professional footballers of the future. It also has a potentially damaging effect on the wider football community and society generally. Every professional footballer should be able to play competitive football in the knowledge that references to the colour of his skin will not be tolerated. The same goes for all levels of football.

"Those who are victims of misconduct of this nature should know that, if they complain and their complaint is upheld, the FA will impose an appropriate penalty which reflects the gravity of this type of misconduct."

The commission concluded: "The charge against Mr Suarez was that he used insulting words which included a reference to Mr Evra's colour. We have found that charge proved on the evidence and arguments put before us. The FA made clear that it did not contend that Mr Suarez acted as he did because he is a racist. Mr Evra said in his evidence that he did not think Mr Suarez is a racist.

"Mr Suarez said in evidence that he will not use the word "negro" on a football pitch in England in the future, and we believe that is his genuine and firm intention."

In a statement Liverpool said: "The club can confirm that they received the written reasons from the Regulatory Commission at short notice last night on the evening of the game against Newcastle United.

"The player, the club and our legal advisors will now take the necessary amount of time to read, digest and properly consider the contents of the 115 page judgment and will make no further comment at present."

Liverpool have previously suggested they will appeal and have remained steadfastly behind their player, his team-mates controversially wearing T-shirts with Suarez's face on them prior to the draw at Wigan 11 days ago.

Liverpool have been given until January 13 to respond, meaning Suarez will be free to play in their next three games, including their Carling Cup semi-final, first leg trip to Manchester City on January 11.



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