Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Suarez Racism Ban Sets a Precedent

  Liverpool's Luis Suarez was charged last night for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra yesterday evening and sentenced to a £40,000 fine (not really much considering the wages he's probably on) and a hefty 8 match ban (worth a lot considering he is one of Liverpool's form players this season).  He allegedly used the word 'negrito' to Evra in a crowded penalty box in front of the Anfield Kop, literally translating to 'little black man'.  How fair is this sentence, especially for such a crime?

  There is argument that Evra has exaggerated the claims, as had happened in the past, and Suarez didn't even use the term; the basis of Liverpool's expected appeal.  There is also argument that the term has been culturally misunderstood, it being a term of endearment in Latin America where Suarez is from.  I would argue, though, that although it has been labelled as racial abuse, how different is it to any other kind of abuse?  Surely using the insult of 'little black man' is on a par with 'little nob-head' or other such derogatory verbal abuse.

  I in no way advocate racism, or verbal abuse of any kind, but I wonder whether the penalty for this incident has been taken too far.  Today's society seems very concerned with insulting someone using an attribute of them, be it race, disability, sexuality or other.  Why is the same concern not given to general abuse that doesn't use someone's nature as its reference?

  A precedent has been set, for sure, in punishing players using racist terms on the pitch, be they intentionally abusive or not.  Should there be set such a precedent when any player uses any other insult to another player, official or even fan?  Should this be confined to just on the pitch or in any wave of life?

  The BBC has selected other football bans on their Suarez/Evra article for crimes such as pushing referees, punching players, kicking fans and failing to take drug tests but never for verbal abuse.  For example, Paul Davis was banned for 9 matches in 1988 for punching an opponent, David Prutton for 10 matches in 2005 for pushing a referee.  The precedent for insulting a player on the pitch could now be the same sentence as that for such physical crimes as listed.

  Players will have to learn to be much more careful, keep their tempers down and keep their mouths shut from now on, which is probably a good thing.  However, if some can't manage to do that, we could be seeing a lot more lengthy bans coming up in the future...