On Wednesday, the FA finally announced after two months of deliberation, that they would be handing Louis Suarez an 8-match ban, for his racial abuse of Manchester United defender Patrice Evra. This decision, and particularly the lack of clarity surrounding it, has shocked the public and pundits alike, and former Arsenal forward Ian Wright has branded the FA’s handling of the whole affair as a mess.
The row began during October, during Liverpool and Manchester United’s 1-1 draw. Allegations were made after the game by Evra, who accused the Uruguayan striker of racially abusing him. The investigation by the FA was instigated shortly after and post-match Suarez pleaded his innocence, and his team mates and manager confirmed that Louis had their full support. But then weeks went by when the only new information on the incident came via interviews with Suarez who claimed he’d only called the United player something that Evra’s own team-mates call him. Next came the sentencing, a hefty 8-match ban, but with reasons and evidence were withheld, to be announced later. This resulted in speculation over exactly why it was given, and what evidence the decision was based on, which prompted Ian Wright to criticise the investigation.
“When the Luis Suarez race row took two months to reach a conclusion, the last thing I expected as the verdict came was another can of worms to burst open,” Wright said. “What a mess it has become. Yet what an avoidable one it could have been had things been handled differently. If Suarez is bang to rights then, yes, of course he should face a lengthy ban. Yet the way the Independent Disciplinary Commission – and subsequent FA statement – went about things has in many ways muddied the waters even more. All we know so far is that Evra accused the Liverpool forward of racial abuse and the verdict has been reached on the back of that. Clearly you would imagine there must be more to it than that – so why now does everyone have to wait until the written judgement is delivered for a full explanation?”
Wright argues that if evidence and the reasons for the sentence were revealed at the same time as the ban itself, a lot of confusion could easily have been avoided. “Surely it would have made more sense for the written proof, which everyone is waiting for, to have been published on the day of the verdict,” said the pundit. “Now all we’ve got is another bout of name calling from Liverpool to the FA and it’s not doing anybody any favours.”