I'd like this to be the last time I write about this, though whatever happens with Luis Suarez's appeal will probably call for another post. But for now, this is it.
I've had a few days to try and consider every angle of this case, instead of posting out of the pure emotion and rage after I felt far too harsh a ban, and I still think that. And we can't really comment until we see the actual evidence and proceedings released, or not comment completely fairly. But we can't sit here and say that Suarez deserved nothing. While his excuse of cultural difference makes some sense, it's not a cure all. It's not the FA's job to bend to whatever understandings and backgrounds of every player in its league are. The players have to conform to the culture and rules of the country and league. Suarez didn't do that, and it's worthy of a ban.
Do I think this was still the FA taking advantage of getting to hammer an already unpopular player among press and fans to score some points? I sure do. And I'll think that until John Terry gets the same amount in a ban, in which case I will retract the statement and apologize for it. But I wouldn't guarantee that happens.
I've tried to think what would be a parallel. And it's hard. If you'll allow me to slip into some touchy ground here, I wonder how the FA would handle a case of one black player calling another black player the n-word. We know that there's a cultural difference when used among the black community instead of a white person using it to insult a black person. We hear it in hip-hop culture all the time. It's our word. We own it now. I won't debate the parameters of that. But what would the FA do? It's still a racist epithet. And in the workplace of a football pitch it's not welcome. Would cultural understandings come into it? I doubt it, so the Suarez excuse once again probably doesn't hold that much water.
Again, eight games is excessive. I want to believe that the FA is trying to set a precedent to wipe this scar from its game forever. I'll believe that if Terry gets the same gate. But I can't escape the feeling that it's still cowtowing to a press it's so afraid of.
As for Liverpool's defense and the uproar it has created, I don't know what the club was supposed to do. Liverpool FC clearly feel that Luis Suarez is not a racist, and I lean that way too. To accept the punishment without comment or response would be to abandon a player who they feel may have been caught either in the heat of the moment or misunderstood. That would be especially harsh if you truly believe in him. Neither side may recover from such a thing. I feel the players and fans took a cue from that.
Or maybe we just don't want to believe we support a racist. If Suarez was proven to have truly intended a racial insult, I think a lot of us would have a hard time getting behind him again. I want to believe Suarez, I want to believe that where he comes from it's not that big of a deal. I've never been to Uruguay, I wouldn't know.
As for everyone losing their mud about Liverpool's and the supporters' response, the "oh it's all so tribal" tripe we're hearing, that's just being ignorant. It's not considering the details that we know. It's just being guided under the impression we're all here to support racism and we hate everyone not of our color. Couldn't be farther from the truth.
All I know is that the club and player are now more alienated from the rest of the football world. That can't be a good thing.
Racism has no place in the sport. Even a hint of it should be dealt with severely. Suarez deserved to be punished, even if to set a precedent. I just want to believe that's what it was. I guess we may never know.
Anyway, bit of a Christmas break for me. I'll be back Sunday night with a Blackburn preview. To all of you and yours, a very Happy Holiday, and thanks for making this place so much fun to do.