Liverpool FC fuelling racism

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There are not many clubs in the world that can compete with Liverpool FC when it comes to its supporters living and breathing a strong sense of pride and integrity. But on Saturday, Liverpool FC did not live up to its own high standards of decency.

Instead, the club's lack of moral leadership allowed the racial bigots to win the day during a heated FA cup fixture with Manchester United. Throughout the game Manchester United's Black captain Patrice Evra was booed, jeered and racially insulted by the Liverpool fans.

Even if judged on pride and passion alone, there are only a few football clubs across Europe that can compete with Liverpool. Glasgow Rangers and Celtic easily spring to mind, but the pride of these clubs are bound up in religious sectarianism in which football too often becomes secondary to hatred. Fever pitch is such at the Turkish club Galatasary, that visiting teams are greeted with the chilling 'Welcome to Hell'. One could also point to the intensely proud team of Atletico Bilbao which is the only club in Western Europe that picks players born from the Basque region, or the best club on the planet right now, Barcelona. But the pride of both clubs is in no small measure, an articulation about a national Basque or Catalan identity, manifest through their local football teams.

But with Liverpool it's different. There are no religious, national or regional demands which are played out through the local team. Liverpool FC grew to be a global football club through a working class ethos of unity, courageousness and striving to be the very best club in which people around the world would want to be part of. Three things above all encapsulate the very best of Liverpool FC. In 1989, Liverpool FC and the people of Merseyside took on and defeated Rupert Murdoch during an era in which he and his papers were truly invincible. The Sun accused Liverpool fans of 'robbing the dead' and 'urinating over police helping the dying' during the tragic Hillsborough football disaster. More than 20 years later and despite numerous apologies from News International, most people in Liverpool will not forgive Murdoch or buy his papers for such gutter accusations and injustice.

Then there's the club's anthem, 'You'll never walk alone'. This in itself is impressive; it binds people together, particularly in an unprecedented form of solidarity. And it was solidarity that led the club's owners to name the most famous end of their ground 'the Spion Kop'. The Spion Kop is named after the 'Battle for the Spion Kop', small mountain in South Africa which the British and the Afrikaans fought over during the Boar war in 1900. A small and heavily outnumbered group of British soldiers valiantly held out against the Afrikaans. Thousands made the ultimately sacrifice; mainly brave mostly working class men. But they managed to hold out. Liverpool FC, like many clubs at the time, decided to pay their own tribute to these gallant men. The last key element to Liverpool FC is success. Again, through working class heroes such as Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley, Liverpool become world beaters.

Their present Liverpool manager, 'King' Kenny Dalglish knows about all of this. He was central to the golden era of the club winning seven league titles, three European cups and a hatful of other domestic trophies, and yet it is he above all who blurred the lines at Liverpool FC between loyalty and integrity. His unequivocal support of his young gifted player Luis Suarez, who was found guilty of grossly insulting Manchester United's Patrice Evra, resulted in a shocking backlash that unleashed latent racism within many Liverpudlians. Suarez insulted Evra no less than ten times during that game, including remarking, 'No hablo con los negros', which at best is translated as, 'I don't speak to Black people, and at worse, 'I don't speak to n....rs'.

With such disturbing allegations Dalglish abandoned his moral compass and set about rubbishing Evra and throwing everything, including the 'kitchen sink', in defence of Suarez.

Every player was forced to wear shirts in defence of the Uruguayan, including Liverpool's only Black first team player Glen Johnson. Not surprisingly those fans, brought up on loyalty and standing together, rallied to Dalglish's cry to defend their man. In one short, mismanaged episode, Liverpool fans have been ushered back to the bad old days of football racism. A few weeks after the incident, a Liverpool fan wearing a 'we support Suarez' t-shirt, racially abused young Black player Tom Adeyemi during an FA cup tie against Oldham. And on Saturday, during the whole 90 minutes, huge sections of the Anfield crowd booed Evra, hurling abuse, including calling him a liar and some of a racial nature.

It has taken years of hard work and endeavor to get rid of the worst aspects of racial abuse at our football stadiums. Football, by its very nature, is drama-filled and emotional, all of which is magnified by huge cheering crowds. It is for this reason that the very best mangers understand the balance between loyalty, morality and leadership. Liverpool may have won on the pitch, but the behaviour of Dalglish that has fuelled racism before, during and after this game can only mean that the club's great reputation around the world has been tarnished. Liverpool FC, indeed football, deserves better.

Simon Woolley

Archived Comments

We've changed to a new commenting system - comments below are preserved for archive purposes

A very disappointed LFC supporter

I am a passionate LFC supporter and a big fan of Daglish and Suarez - they're basically my past and present footballing heroes. But the despicable way both the player and manager behaved in this racism scandal has left me very disappointed. Furthermore, it's left me wondering how much actual regard they have for black supporters like myself - and indeed how serious they are in kicking racism out of football. Not very much so it appears.

A LFC FAN

I'm a scouser, a liverpool football fan have been all my life I also happen to be black all three things i'm particularly proud of. My nephew is signed to the club as a junior player. I can honestly say that the club truly believe that Suarez is not a racist, that his comments on the pitch during that match were cultural differances not racist. Now I believe Suarez was wrong because in a heated match whatever is said can be offensive. Football allows players to comment on other players wives, children, families etc on the pitch to unnerve and dismantle the opponent. Yes Daglish has mishandled the situation, he should have made a clear declaration that the club doesn't stand by racism and why he is supporting Suarez. LFC is not a racist club. Booing Manchester United players is about supporter rivalry. Racists exist in all football clubs and I avidly want players and supporters across all of football to grass up and root out all racist behaviour on and off the pitch. I do wonder why the media aren't as obsessed with the goings on at Chelsea as they are at Liverpool. Black supporters shouldn't turn their backs on liverpool football club its the racists that need to go.

to LFC fans

Thank you Ibby and Mez for giving your fair assesment of what occured with the Suarez, Evra incident.
I've lived in Latin America and so know the cultural difference between, 'Negrito' which is a term of endearment roughly translated as ' my little black friend' and the perjorative 'Negro', which is often spoken in way that denotes superiorty.

And yes its true that certain sections have focused more on Suarez than John Terry. But in many ways it is also how the club as mismanaged the incident. OBV, you will see from our site, has extensively covered the John Terry case and particularly the 'bullet in the post', which just goes to show it doesn't take much to bring out the very worst of some individuals.
But again thank you both for you comments, they help our readers to better understand.

Simon

British Government.

A lot of criticism about Liverpool FC's handling of the racial behaviour of a player and some of the club's supporters has been covered by the media right across the globe.

The question that has gone through my mind is, how many of the major establishments in this country today would have fared any better than Liverpool FC put in the same position; post New Labour? My answer is none of them would have. This is where we now look for the root cause of the problem. Which silly government took accountability for wrong doings away from the employment and financial industries?

Why don't we look at the possibility that successive British Government's might be able to clarify a bit more on this racist problem which has suddenly reappeared in football - after the best efforts of the Football Association to get rid of it - and the stupid and stinking attitude of the Metropolitan Police which led to the race riots in August 2011?

Why don't we start from the period of May 1997 to May 2010 first? Then we resume from May 2010 to present to see how much contribution each government has made to racial equality and harmony.

in defence of Liverpool

I find the tone that you have taken understandable in the context of this site but unjustified. I am a Liverpool supporter, a season ticket holder. I believe Suarez was wrong to say what he said to Evra. I believe he was wrong not to shake his hand. I believe the club has mishandled the situation. But I will not have you accuse the fans of this club of being racist. They booed Evra because they didn;t believe his story, because they believe he had lied- now i don't agree with that, but it doesn't make them racist. And there was no racist chanting at Evra at Anfield whatsoever. One fan (incidentally not from Liverpool) in a stadium of 45,000 made a disgusting racial gesture. He has rightly been arrested and doubtless will be prosecuted and banned from Anfield for life. And the fan who is 'alleged' to have abused Adeyami was not wearing a Suarez shirtt he was wearing a white liverpool away top, and you might want to note that it was the supposedly 'racist' Liverpool fans sitting around him who are providing the witnesses for the prosecution. We all want to fight racism but is it not ironic that you are singleing out an entire group of people and holding them corporately responsible for what is actually the actions of very small number if people?

North by North West

People often use the defence "he/she is not a racist", but it is not what someone is or is not that should be debated. The real debate is whether they did or did not do something racist. I think on that basis we are clear - as was the FA report - about Suarez's conduct.

I am a Utd fan and have avoided using this ugly affair to put one over on our rivals. It would be in poor taste. That said, the entire conduct of LFC has been lamentable. Some of the actions were not spur of the moment decisions. Some were well crafted PR exercises designed to slur Evra, and defend Suarez to the point of absurdity. It was only after the sponsors had a word did a (hollow) apology appear.

As for the Anfield situation. I take the points of the fans above. There were not whole stands giving out abuse. However, let's be more accurate. Both arrests were after the game. It seems to me that neither the fellow fans nor the stewards seem to react at the time (in a context where simply refusing to sit down can mean instant removal from the stadium).. As for the booing of Evra, if the fans bothered to read the report rather than just LFC forums then they might have (to quote a former LFC hero) "the facts", but I can say hand on heart that if this was Chicarito and Johnson then Utd fans would probably have been just as embarassing.

About this Chelsea comparison. I can see the point being made. Nobody has castigated AVB or Chelsea for standing by their man, nor discussed whether Terry should lose his Chelsea captaincy. To me, Terry is as innocent as someone who is spotted on CCTV or is filmed on Police Camera Action but protests their innocence until the court date (which they are entitled to do). I just wish he was subjected to the same speed of justice as ordinary folk. Not sure I could get my trial postponed for the reasons he did.

It has been remarked to me by a few southerners (Londoners mainly) that they think it is more racist 'up north'. That is nonsense and a pointless debate. I would like to share a mini-conspiracy though that taps in to the north / south divide on racism. What reasons other than southern favouritism explain how Mike Read and Jim Davidson went on to have decent TV careers, whilst Bernard Manning and Chubby Brown were ostracised. If you watch their material from the 80s you'll see very little difference. Hmmm!

Charity Begins From Home.

"That said, the entire conduct of LFC has been lamentable."

David,

How many of the other 91 football clubs or more would have fared any better than Liverpool Football Club if they had been fronted with the same problem; never mind other establishments detached from sports in this country? Probably none.

The various British Governments must shoulder some blame; especially New Labour - which went on to scrap the Commission For Racial Equality. How many of these different governments have been firm on all establishments, sports clubs etc properly practicing and purporting Equal Opportunties Policies?

Unbalanced attitude

The t shirt incident was a surprise to me (I’m a LFC lifelong) however I stand by the clubs support and stance.
This case is quite fascinating on many levels.

Ok the FA has conveyed that verbal abuse of a dark-skinned person is so foul a thing as to make other forms of contempt pale into total insignificance. For so far as can be determined – and the problem is that Evra made allegations against Suarez that could not be corroborated – the Spanish-speaking Suarez called Evra ‘negrito’, ‘little black fellow’, only after Evra taunted him with disgusting innuendos regarding his sister. To a product like Suarez of a Latin American Catholic culture jealously protective of family and female honour, the inflammatory nature of such an insult needs no underlining.

Bizarrely, Evra has not received so much as a reprimand. you have to ask yourself why the panel didn't penalised Evra.

Furthermore its rather hypocritical that people who feel it is taboo to deal with the simple issue of skin colour, want to redefine to Hispanics worldwide the meaning of the word Negrito

Never the less one overgrown school boy got a punishment and he took it , so did his club.
The media etc.. has had it pound of flesh.

The club etc.. support all forms of anti racism , prejudice etc..

I’m sorry but I cant now swallow that LFC or mr Dalglish should admit or apologise for standing by their beliefs.
after a mans reputation(and his employers) has been assassinated just on the say so of one less than perfect claim, the accused! are entitled to defend themselves.

Why you may ask ? Well have a look at what Mr John Barnes (Black LFC legend) has to say about all the matters. He knows why the club has adopted its stance. And one day it will perhaps emerge.

official

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