Suarez, Terry and the Football Racism Scandal

Earlier this week the FA made a decision to suspend Luis Suarez for eight matches and fine him £40,000 for alleged racist abuse against Patrice Evra during Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United in October. These allegations are denied by Suarez and he will launch an appeal after the independent enquiry is complete.

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This is one of the strictest punishments the FA have ever imposed upon a player and it could still get worse, as the FA are still considering what action should be taken against Suarez for raising his middle finger at Fulham fans when the teams last met.

This is not the first time Suarez has courted controversy, most notably during the 2010 World Cup Quarter Final against Ghana when he was sent off for stopping a goal bound header. Liverpool were aware of his reputation before signing the player, as he was serving a seven match ban for biting an opponent, an action for which he was dubbed the “Ajax cannibal”, when Liverpool approached the player.

Liverpool have been supportive of their player, just as Chelsea have been of Terry, and I condemn both of these clubs for taking this action. It is irresponsible and may risk influencing an independent enquiry or, in the case of Jon Terry, legal proceedings. I think we must take a step back and remember racism in the UK is a criminal offence and it should not be accepted or defended by anybody, let alone two of the world’s largest football clubs.

I find it astonishing that some people have defended Suarez by citing cultural differences, as an excuse. I do not think ignorance is an excuse and I thoroughly commend the FA for clear and decisive action on this issue.

However, I can’t help but feel the FA are acting with some hypocrisy with regards to the suspension, as Jon Terry still remains England captain. This is partly due to the ongoing criminal investigation and partly due to unfortunate timing, as Terry was only re-appointed as Captain a few weeks ago.

My personal opinion is, a Captain should set the example on and off the pitch and not draw the gaze of the media unnecessarily. This is the second time Terry has brought himself into serious disrepute as a result of questionable actions. Regardless of whether he is deemed to be innocent, I think this illustrates his unsuitability for the role of captaincy. However, the likelihood of him being sacked from the England Captaincy for a second time is highly unlikely, as there are no obvious replacements for captain with Rio Ferdinand having a poor season and Steven Gerrard’s powers waning; there leaves few, if any, natural leaders in the England squad.

The FA has often taken a lead in issues and has done a great deal of work on tackling racism over the last 20 years with their let’s kick racism out of football campaign. Yet they risk undermining the achievements they have made, by the way in which they have handled these two cases. The FA will have to make a decisive decision in the new year regarding Terry or risk criticism and accusations of double standards.