clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The FA's Findings Against Suarez

New, 58 comments

This is a link is to The Guardian's brief summary of the FA panel's findings against Suarez. If you want to read the 115 page document for yourself, click here. I'll give you a few brief thoughts to think about and then let you vent:

1. He admitted to using a term, a racially tinged term, to spin Evra up. While it apparently would be acceptable in Uruguay, it clearly is not in England and he was going to have to be punished. I don't blame Evra or United for this, although I don't know why Evra apparently waited until the end of the game to complain to Andre Mariner. [UPDATE] This was apparently due to confusion with what Mariner had heard

2. The punishment is quite severe considering history (look up John Mackie) and that they "took account of various aggravating and mitigating circumstances", or so they say. Clearly they focused on the aggravating circumstances.

3. Also, the case is quite circumstantial in that they were forced to decide whose word was most correct with no apparent independent means of verification of the conversation, be it a witness or audio recording. They basically had to determine who was being the most truthful based on testimony they bounced off of the video evidence.

4. The FA have painted themselves into a corner for JT. Apparently there isn't enough evidence to bring criminal charges against Suarez, unlike Terry, since he hasn't been charged yet.

5. The FA was, in my opinion, trying to show the world how fantastic they are in the fight against racism rather than administering a reasonable punishment given the circumstantial case in front of them.

6. The delay in the investigation was unacceptable and likely resulted in details being forgotten, exaggerated or twisted.

7. I just want this to go away.

8. Keep the comments clean and try to make calm rational arguments for your positions rather than flame spraying your comments in anger.

9. Some other interesting reading on the issue from a BBC writer who covers South American Football, click here.

[UPDATE] After the jump a long synopsis of the important parts of the report:

-Keep in mind a few of the comments may have been made prior to my posting of the synopsis. I did this is two parts where I posted the links, then went back and added the synopsis afterwards.

As if I needed to throw more gas on the fire, here is another interesting article from a Brown professor who is a native Uruguayan at This is Anfield. It is another interesting interpretation of the exchange and testimony.

I have some free time so I read the report, here are some important things to consider and a more detailed synopsis.

Here is the burden of proof statement:

It is common ground between the parties that the burden of proving a breach of Rule
E3(1) and (2) lies on the FA. It is not for Mr Suarez to satisfy the Commission that he did
not breach the Rules. Rather, it is for the FA to satisfy us to the required standard that Mr
Suarez did breach the Rules.

In addition though, the standard of proof used is the civil standard, not the criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. This means:

It is for the FA to satisfy us on the balance of probability that Mr Suarez
breached the Rules.

Also, they were not trying to determine if Suarez was a racist, merely whether or not "Mr Suarez used abusive or insulting words or behaviour which included a reference to Mr Evra's ethnic origin, colour or race."

Here are some highlights (or lowlights) of the incident:

Suarez's defense in brief:

To recap, Mr Suarez's case was that he had used the word "negro" once only when Mr
Evra said "Don't touch me, South American" and Mr Suarez replied "Por que, negro?",
meaning "Why black?". Mr Suarez said that this exchange took place when the referee
blew his whistle to stop the corner being taken, and that the touching to which Mr Evra
was referring was Mr Suarez's foul on him five minutes previously. Mr Suarez further said
that his use of the word “negro” was conciliatory and friendly and was commonly used in
this way in Uruguay. It was not intended to be offensive or racially offensive.

They have a tussle, the two versios of what is said are well documented.

Kuyt testified that Evra told Andre Mariner that Marriner was only booking him because he was black. Ander Mariner stated that he did not hear this. Evra claims to have told Andre Mariner numerous times that he was being called "black", but Mariner wasn't listening and claims to have never heard the claims. It was only after the game when Evra went to the referee's room that Evra's complaints on the pitch clicked in Marriner's head.

After the game Evra was very upset in the locker room, with most of his teammates agreeing that he was muttering something about Suarez saying that he "didn't talk to black people" and was abnormally upset by this and the fact that the ref did nothing. However, Evra failed to mention this in his account, but the board accepted it as fact based on the 4 players who testified about it and the fact that Suarez accepted it.

He then went with Fergie to the referees room and told the referees that he had been called the n-word.

The "over 10 times" was defined as a figure of speech in French by Evra and he is not actually accusing Suarez of abusing him 10 times, but to doing it more than one time. Damien Comolli disputed this interpretation of "over 10 times" in a circumstance such as this stating that such an accusation shouldn't be so imprecisely counted, comparing it to his kid asking for a toy for Christmas repeatedly.

The FA commisioned two independent experts in Latin American culture who agreed that "negro" cannot be substituted directly for the "n-word" and that it is indeed used in a non-racist manner, also noting that "blanco" is not used in this manner at all. I am not going to beat this dead horse as the use of "negro" in Uruguay has been written about a lot and those writings are consistent with the experts findings.

Of Evra's Account:

The experts also determined that Suarez's alleged use of "tu" in "Porque tu eres negro" is uncommon in most of Uruguay, but that there is still a small percentage of people in Montevideo who would use it. Apparently in Argentina they would never use "tu" and instead would use "vos". Both experts thought the phrase was quite unusual in that a direct racial slur would have contained more to it.

They also stated that "no habla con negros" would have racial and/or provocative overtones and not be friendly in nature as well as Evra's account of Suarez saying "dale, negro. dale negro" which translates to "bring it on blackie."

Of Suarez's Account:

They determined what he allegedly said would likely not have been interpreted in a derogatory manner. Also, since Evra initiated the conversation in Spanish that Suarez may have felt a sense that Evra wouldn't have misinterpreted his use of "negro". Also, that is Evra called Suarez a South American, it could be interpreted as provocative/racial in nature based on the inflection with which it is said.

The Conclusions:

In the end, both the FA and Suarez's lawyer agreed that this was not simply just two men's word against the other. this is mainly due to the video evidence used, but suarez's lawyer submitted that the case most certainly revolves around these two men's differing accounts and basically stated that they set out to determine which person's account was "more probable."

-Evra's concession about Suarez:

"There is no need for any player to be racially abusive towards another player, it's
completely out of order. I was so surprised because Suarez has played with many
black players and I don't think he's racist but I don't know why he said that."

They very much heaped praise on Evra and his poise on the stand as well as the numerous" concessions he was prepared to make.

He also added this:

"For me it was like I think a bad dream, because I respect so much that player
because he's a really good player"

Evra gave his testimony in English with an interpreter standing by just in case. Suarez did use an interpreter for pretty much the entire thing. There is one damning exchange where Suarez was particularly evasive regarding his pinching of Evra, Mr Greaney is the FA's lawyer in for the case:

"MR GREANEY: Mr Suarez, the first thing I would like to ask you, now that we have
seen those again, is: is it correct, as you say in paragraph 27 of your witness
statement, that you were trying to defuse or calm down the situation in the goal
A. That's why I was explaining to him that it was a normal foul.
Q. Let me be as clear as I can. Was your aim, when you were in the goal mouth, and
speaking to Mr Evra, to calm down the situation?

A. I wasn't thinking about speaking to anyone. He was the one to come to me and
speak to me.
Q. What we want to know, or at least I do, is what was in your mind? Was it in your
mind to try to calm down the situation?
A. He was asking me, "Why did you kick me?" Those were football conversations,
and I replied, "This is a normal foul. What do you want me to do?"
Q. Do you see paragraph 27 of your statement? Does it read: "I was trying to defuse
or calm the situation"?
A. By the gesture I was doing with my hands, I could show that I was trying to
explain the situation, because these are conversations that you have in the field.
Q. Mr Suarez, I have to suggest to you that my question is really a very simple one.
In the goal mouth, and in particular as you pinched the skin of Mr Evra, do you say
you were trying to calm the situation?
A. Not after the pinch, because he was saying that he was going to hit me.
Q. I'll just make one more attempt, and then we will move on. In your statement,
over which we have understood you took some care, you have said of the pinching:
"I was trying to defuse the situation." All I wish to know is whether that is true or
A. I was not trying to calm down the situation, but trying to explain to Evra why I
was doing this foul, and when - then he replied, "I'm going to hit you", and I was
trying to show him that he was not untouchable, not in the foul and not by the
gesture that I did with the - by the pinch I was doing to his arm, that he wasn't

-In addition, the experts concurred that Suarez's use of the term "negro" in the context that he claimed to have used it could be considered racially offensive even though it is usually used with a follow on adjective or noun when used in such a manner in Latin America.

-Essentially Suarez made the claim that his actions and words were meant to be conciliatory and meant to diffuse the situation. This includes patting Evra on the back of the head at one point following a talking to from Andre Mariner. I don't think that this can be disputed, Evra was already angry and I am sure Suarez knew it would just spin him more. That coupled with the video evidence that they were hostile to each other after this led the commission to determine that Suarez was not attempting to be friendly or establish a rapport with Evra by using the word "negro." In addition, they stated that they were troubled that Suarez relied so much on this for his defense.

-There is much made about Evra's interpretation and/or understanding of the use of the word "negro" in Spanish. Evra thought it was akin to the n-word. When asked why he told the ref that he was being called "black" instead of telling the ref that he was being called the n-word Evra stated that he didn't like to use the term himself. However, the commission came to this conclusion:

However, we do not believe that Mr Suarez used the Spanish word "negro" in the sense
that can reasonably be understood, in English, as "nigger". Rather, he used it to mean
black, both as an adjective and as a noun.

-At some point Suarez added extra detail to his original statement, something that was looked at unfavorably because he had a hard time explaining why he had done so.

All of these findings led the commission to favor Evra's story over Suarez's. However, it was still up to the FA to prove the case to a reasonable probability. Since the commission found Suarez's stories to be fairly inconsistent and Evra's to be consistent they decided there was enough probability to confirm the charges against Suarez. In addition, the video evidence of reactions by the players to what was said (although there is no evidence of what was said) lent itself to follow Evra's storyline better than Suarez's. Because Evra's version was the accepted version, the way that "negro" was used in his account was deemed potentially be racially offensive if used similarly in Uruguay.


How they came to their conclusions for the punishment:

They started with the initial punishment for insulting words without the aggravating circumstances and doubled it. This was four games. Then the FA's entire reasoning for asking for increased punishment beyond that was a collection of reasons about how Suarez had embarrassed the FA and undermined it's anti-racism message and this gem:

The FA submitted that an increased sanction was required both to punish Mr Suarez and
also to ensure that it is widely understood that the FA deprecates and will not accept racist
behaviour. In other words, a deterrent sanction is called for.

So as pointed out, it was to show the world that the FA is number one in stamping out racism and make an example of him rather than punish him appropriately.

Suarez pointed out a few mitigating factors:

First time offense, his charitable work in South Africa (and that a harsh ruling could undermine this), his captaincy at Ajax and his black grandfather

-This was also in the reasoning behind the 8 game punishment. The commissioned acknowledged that the exchanged happened only over a two minute time frame and that it wasn't a single use thing. In addition:

Mr Suarez's behaviour was far more serious than a single use of the word "negro" to address Mr Evra in a way which would be considered inoffensive in Uruguay. If that was all that Mr Suarez had done, and we had found the Charge proved, the penalty would have been less than we have imposed.

Mark my words, this last quote will give the FA the out they need when dealing with John Terry.

So there you have it, my "brief" summary of the pertinent facts. I tried to be as impartial as I could and after reading it, I can see why they went with Evra's version. I don't think too many people would dispute the fact that the word was used, my biggest issue again is the punishment and this has only served to strengthen my argument.

If in reading this you disagree with how it is presented, please let me know and I will go back and look at it again.