RACISM INCIDENTS AT LIVERPOOL FOOTBALL CLUB
The recent incidents of racism associated with Liverpool Football Club has been heavily debated nationwide. Here we present the views of two fans – our editor, Garth Dallas and Vinny Tomlinson, former Chair Merseyside Black Police Association.
Garth Dallas (Editor, Diverse Magazine):
“As a huge LFC fan I deliberately reserved judgement on the Suárez case until I felt I had enough information to make an ‘informed statement’. I can now say that I categorically support the verdict and the punishment!!
Suárez has not been found guilty of being a racist, because that was not the charge. Rather he was convicted of insulting Evra during the course of an exchange in which, as he admitted, he used the word “negro”. The way Evra heard it, the term was used to add weight to the insult.
The panel must have had good reasons for agreeing, while declining to accept the view that there is a cultural context in which the use of such a term – particularly as part of an exchange of abuse – may be acceptable. He (Suárez) had absolutely no reason to make reference to Evra’s race in that context and we should understand that ‘intention’ is not an absolute necessity in cases of racial abuse. The fact that Evra felt abused AND that Suárez admitted making the comment that caused the abuse WERE the major factors in the verdict. In law the concept of ‘strict liability’ (a person is legally responsible for the damage and loss caused by his or her acts and omissions regardless of intention) comes to mind here….
If the Club had made a strong statement then maybe the Tom Adeyemi incident might not have happened. Those Liverpool fans that racially abused him from the Kop are disgraceful and should receive life-time bans…”
Here is a short interview on BBC World Service 07 January 2012:
Vinny Tomlinson (former Chair, Merseyside Black Police Association):
Much has been said relating to the Luis Suarez/Patrice Evra incident and my overall conclusion regarding the conduct of both LFC and Kenny Dalglish is one of immense disappointment.
It was the 21st October 1978 when, as a 10 year old boy, I first stood on the Kop to watch my boyhood heroes, which included Kenny Dalglish. I have supported LFC for over 33 years and this passion has been passed down to my 3 boys. I have experienced racism throughout my life, from my earliest childhood memories, into adulthood. Therefore my understanding of the damage racism does, extends beyond the theoretical. I have and continue to be an active anti-racism campaigner. I have worked with LFC to assist them to drive home their various laudable community activities and I have seen firsthand the positive influence this can have, particularly on young people. I have sat on panels with former LFC players, such as Howard Gayle, Alan Kennedy, Phil Neal & John Barnes working with ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ , as we addressed diverse groups, ranging from young schoolchildren to teachers.
As I write this, not one single word condemning Suarez has been uttered by the club. Arguments challenging the FA’s verdict have at times sounded paranoid as some fans have stated that, ‘the FA are out to get us’, to ‘Suarez can’t possibly be racist because he has a black grandfather’. All of this amounts to one large smokescreen of denial, primarily motivated by misguided loyalty and ignorance. There is a saying that, ‘It is not who is right but what is right’ and this must prevail. Luis Suarez was given opportunity to put his case. He was given the opportunity to appeal and declined. Due process has taken place and for LFC to still not utter one word of condemnation, yet hint at there being things they cannot say when they could have been said in the appeal, is reprehensible.
The unwavering pre & post (none) appeal support of Suarez has been myopic and the hypocritical stance taken by the club on racism is one which would certainly not dissuade those who wish to engage in racist behaviour. The whole handling of this, not least the fiasco of the Wigan T-shirts has brought it into disrepute, particularly amongst many in the Liverpool black community and no doubt undermined the aforementioned community work in the process.
Many will say it is time to move on, but how can we when Louis Suarez by his own admission chose to refer to the skin colour of an opponent during a volatile and aggressive exchange that some have laughingly tried to explain away as a term of endearment? Many cannot move on until LFC and Louis Suarez et al understand the harm that has been caused both by the actions of the player and the subsequent handling of the incident by the club. Nelson Mandela taught us that in order to reconcile our differences, we must first admit our wrong doing and then apologise sincerely for it. The custodians of my club will need to embrace this, if they are to have any hope of reconciliation.