Liverpool versus Manchester United. Manchester United versus Liverpool. It’s one of the games in the Premiership that is a must watch every year for fans of either team, whether you’re a casual follower or a die-hard, don’t wear my shirt in 26 degree weather in January, kind of fan. Luckily enough, both sets of fans have been treated to this classic rivalry three times already this year (2 League, 1 FA Cup) and none of the games have disappointed. Unfortunately that’s not what I’m going to be focusing on in this post. I will be focusing on the Luis Suarez-Patrice Evra scandal or as I like to call it “Handshake-Gate.”
Now for those of you that don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, let me fill you in. In October, Liverpool hosted Manchester United in a Premiership game that ended up in a 1-1 tie. Normally both sides of players and fans would take the point and go on home knowing that they hadn’t lost to their arch-rival and claim to be just as good, if not better than, their traditional foes. However, it obviously did not go according to plan or I would not be writing about this. Five days after the first game Patrice Evra, a French, black defender for Manchester United, accused Luis Suarez, a Uruguayan striker for Liverpool, of using a derogatory and racist term towards him during the first game. After looking back at the game tape you can clearly see that Suarez does say something to Evra and I can guarantee you it wasn‘t, “Would you like to come to my house for dinner?” So the English Football Association reviewed the case, they looked at the tape, they interviewed the referee and both players, and they even got in a Uruguayan lip reader to determine what Suarez was exactly saying, before they made their decision. When the final verdict came down it was rough one, an 8 game suspension for Suarez from all competitions due to racist and unsportsmanlike behavior towards another player. It was so widely covered that it even got some air time on ESPN (and the never happens, believe me) and became quite the hot topic between my friends and I for a week or two.
Fast forward an 8 match suspension, a Liverpool victory over United in the FA Cup, and a couple of weeks and you’ll end up at Old Trafford on Saturday, February 11th, 2012. Manchester United were hosting Liverpool in the Premiership for the third and final meeting of the season between the two storied clubs, and to say that it wasn’t exactly the best afternoon for the men from Merseyside would be an understatement. Luis Suarez probably wishes that the Red Devils from Old Trafford coming out on top with a 2-1 victory thanks to a 2 goal, 4 minute spell from Wayne Rooney was the worst thing that could’ve happened that day, but he was wrong, and it’s entirely his fault. During the pregame it’s tradition for both sets of players to walk down the line and shake hands as a gesture of good luck and fair play. Luis Suarez shook ten Manchester United players’ hands; do you want to guess which player he didn’t shake hands with? If you guessed Patrice Evra then go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back, because that’s exactly what happened. The reaction across Britain was one of disgust and shock.
That’s where the story is as of right now and frankly I’m getting sick of it. Luis Suarez needs to be a better man than this. He represents Liverpool Football Club, one of the biggest clubs in the world; he cannot be allowed to walk onto the hallowed Anfield turf wearing a Liverpool jersey if he continues to disgrace himself, his teammates, his fans, and his owners. He needs to be mature about this situation and realize that you can’t act like this, especially on live television with a broadcast that stretches to every corner of the globe nowadays. He is a role model, that’s what you become when you play for teams like Liverpool or Manchester United or Barcelona or AC Milan. You are supposed to be a shining example of a football player to young kids, showing them how to play the game with pride and humility, not how cool you are by not addressing the situation and avoiding someone that got you in trouble. Those are the kind of people that get identified in elementary school as pussies. Luis Suarez is a pussy in my book, and the sooner he gets out of Anfield the better in my opinion. This is a club where Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, and Michael Owen wowed crowds at the Kop on a weekly basis with their goals and grace and managed to uphold the great reputation that Liverpool had built for itself. Luis Suarez is going down, and he’s going to take this clubs rich, historic reputation down with him if something isn’t done soon.