Luis Suarez and Liverpool surely don't like it -- the Reds have already appealed -- but the English FA's decision to ban the Uruguayan star eight games for his racist remarks at Manchester United's Patrice Evra was a landmark decision.
Martin Lipton says the decision was at the worst end of their scale of possible outcomes for Liverpool and its star. What made it so hard was that the three-man commission was "asked to rule on nuance and culture as much as the facts." There was no video evidence of Suarez's taunts, nor any report from the referee, Andre Marriner. (It is alleged Evra said: "Don't touch me, you South American," to which Suarez replies: "Porque, negro?")
The one thing that is certain: Suarez wasn't naive. He couldn't get off saying he used a phrase that might be said in his hometown of Montevideo. He had spent four years at Ajax in the Netherlands, where race is a public issue.
Nor could the FA sweep the matter under the rug even after Evra admitted Suarez was not racist. After all, it has long been critical of racial taunts English players have received from fans abroad.