So here’s a bit of work I did today, covering the Manchester United vs Liverpool game for UK TV channel Sports Tonight Live.
But the reason I’m writing this post, especially now is that it’ll be impossible to comment on this with any fairness or impartiality by the end of the weekend, if not before. I’m not here, speaking as both a Liverpool fan who is incredibly unbiased and a sports journalist, to cast any aspersions on the characters involved. The actions of all parties will be commented upon, remonstrated, demonised and made examples of.
Firstly, neither Evra or Suarez are in the wrong with their reactions towards each other. Regardless of thoughts towards the professionalism of the game, it is understandable that they both hate each other for what ever reason they have. Secondly Dalglish and Ferguson are not wrong in their remarks in their post match interviews. It is both their beliefs that are being asked and questioned and therefore formed in their replies. Thirdly, both teams are fully aware and respectful of the rivalry they share and the implications such actions will bear upon their football clubs.
Let’s pretend and postulate that all three of these situations are presented in a Primary School classroom, at least one that I attended in any case. In each respect both parties (Evra & Suarez, Dalglish & Ferguson, Manchester United & Liverpool) would be brought in together to see the teacher. Not a damn in the world would be given as to what occurred and the repercussions or who started it or why. It would be made very clear that behaviour like this is unacceptable. It would be then that they would be forced to make up, fully understanding what they did wrong. Yes there would be dodgy looks and a long period of silence between the parties but it would eventually clear.
The clubs will survive this recent development without too much tarnish upon their characters, that is for certain. The managers themselves will be equally untarnished. In fact, I’ll be surprised if cult elements of the football community don’t put Dalglish in a frame for his response to Sky’s Geoff Shreeves. The players, however, will be vilified beyond recognition. They already have been. Suarez is wrong for not shaking hands after being proved guilty and not making this water under the bridge. The man believes himself to be innocent, who are we to dictate what he should believe and how he acts that out? He’s an adult human being. Evra jumped about post match and flaunted the win for his team at his home ground. Something unbecoming of the defender as far as I am aware. Not until he crossed paths with Suarez (who to his credit completely ignored his machinations) was this then a problem and an obvious retort against the current scandal. Some would consider this the action of a relieved man who’s overcome an archaic adversity. Others would say he’s baited the player and acted like an impudent child. Who are we to dictate what he should believe and how he acts that out? He’s an adult human being.
It may be a cliche that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. But in the world of sport, cliches are almost literal. I must point out that while people will take sides, it’s not always correct. I cannot condone the actions of an individual who has been proven to have been racist (and admittedly has a dubious track record). Regardless of whether he believes he is or not, he has been proven guilty of the offence. Neither can I condone the actions of a man who has proven himself to wear his heart on his sleeve and yet show no decorum or professionalism in the global media spotlight, in order to selfishly celebrate a victory of vendetta (I don’t recall Evra using this as a platform to help oust racism from the sport). What I can condone is that these people really dislike each other, and that if the media spotlight focuses on this mutual disliking between two peoples then it becomes no better than a soap opera or a professional wrestling storyline. The news here isn’t that Suarez refused to shake hands or that Fergie is giving Liverpool transfer advice. It’s that two people dislike each other. Our wall to wall over embellishment of the coverage and a subject that, outside of revulsion and a moral point to prove that intolerance and racism is wrong, has no bearing on either sports or reality within most of the real thinking UK.
Put simply, something happened, people have been punished and its time to move on. Let the players and the clubs get on with it. If there is continued problems pertaining to the original offence then of course we should be mindful and utterly resolute in our approach. That is completely right if that is the case. Speaking as a fan of a club who never expected this scandal to ever be discussed in this country ever again however, not a shit is given this day if two people dislike each other. Let the sport do the talking.