Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word

January 3, 2012

It’s sad, so sad, it’s a sad sad situation …and it’s getting more and more absurd

Those of you unlucky enough to follow me on Twitter will know that I have been angered recently by the response to the Suarez/Evra affair. If, at this stage, you have no idea what  I’m talking about then you’d be well advised to not bother reading the rest of this!

Let me be quite clear at the very beginning: I believe that what Suarez did was wrong and it is right that he is punished for what he did. I’m no lawyer, or profess to have any sort of legal brain, but I have read through the full FA report. The early pages make unpleasant reading for Liverpool fans (or Suarez supporters – and the two are not mutually inclusive groups).

But on reading further my initial sense of having been let down by someone who’s skill, attitude and enthusiasm for the game I had admired changed to one of injustice and anger.

Far better blogs than this one have been written on the inconsistencies surrounding the judgement and a quick search of the internet will find you many blogs both for and against the judgement. It is not the intention of this post to try and change anyone’s mind, or convince them that they are wrong.

The purpose of this post is to give a word of warning.

I like to think of myself as a mild-mannered 50 year old. I rarely get upset or angry, I try to be laid-back and laissez-faire but I have spent my whole working life dealing with injustices and I try not to let them go unchallenged.

Whether it is the right that is so often denied to children and young people to have their say about the future, or nobody taking a stand against a bullying army in Israel protecting those who are building illegal settlements from those whose land they have stolen I want to make my voice heard.

And so in this sad and morally bereft affair when I see one man being correctly (though excessively) punished and another protagonist not even being investigated my heart screams out “where is the justice?”

I believe that Luis Suarez was wrong and should apologise for any offence caused. It matters not whether he intended to cause offence or whether the ‘cultural differences’ were exaggerated. If I cause offence to someone else (showing the soles of my feet in Korea, not putting my knife and fork together on the plate in Belgium) I should apologise. So should Luis.

However, so should Patrice Evra. The report is quite clear (to my reading) that Evra started the incident, that he insulted Suarez yet he has not been charged by the FA and that, to me , is an injustice and one which allows Liverpool FC’s feeling of injustice to fester.

Liverpool FC are, of course, now in a no win situation. If they decide not to appeal they will get pilloried in the press (particularly I suspect by those twin icons of journalistic integrity The Daily Mail and The Mirror for the support shown by the club, its staff and players to Luis Suarez the Convicted Racist (despite the fact that both the FA Commission and Evra has said that Suarez is not a racist – but the gutter press have never allowed facts to get in the way of  a good headline, has it?)

If they DO appeal they will get pilloried in the press (particularly I suspect by those twin icons of journalistic integrity The Daily Mail and The Mirror) for not taking a stand against racism (a stand which LFC have been in the forefront of taking for many years)

And back to the word of warning I mentioned earlier. My utterances on Twitter regarding this debacle have introduced me to some strangers – some of whom have become ‘friends’ like Stephen (@mirrors90) a young ManUre fan with whom I share pleasant and, I hope, inoffensive banter. But this relationship seems to be the exception rather than the rule. The two clubs, and their supporters, are so at each others throats and so hate (and I use that word advisedly) each other that it is my profound fear that when the two clubs next meet (at Old Trafford in March) such will be the poisonous atmosphere that there will be significant violence and someone, maybe more than one person, will be seriously hurt.

Can this be avoided? Yes, I think it can – and it requires Suarez and Evra, together on a public stage, making sincere and personal apologies to each other and asking the two sets of fans to start respecting each other. Let’s face it, we’ll never LIKE each other but respect would be a good place to be.

Because if someone is seriously hurt, or worse, who is going to be able to take the moral high ground then?

Shakespeare had King Lear say:

Close pent-up guilts,
Rive your concealing continents, and cry
These dreadful summoners grace. I am a man
More sinn’d against than sinning.

I don’t believe that Suarez was MORE sinned against than sinning – but I believe he was equally sinnned against.

“Sorry”  may well be the hardest word but it’s not an impossible one. For all our sakes, Evra and Suarez need to say it.