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Liverpool and Red Sox in a mess of trouble
by Paul Kennedy, February 12th, 2012 9:45PM

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TAGS:  england

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[WORLD VIEW] One wonders what Boston Red Sox owner John Henry is thinking he's gotten himself into. Sixteen months after his Fenway Sports Group bought Liverpool with the goal of building back up its reputation as one of the great clubs in soccer, he finds himself being beaten up in all quarters. The latest: Liverpool's American ownership was forced to intervene and resolve a "festering mess" a day after Uruguayan star Luis Suarez refused to shake Patrice Evra's hand in the pre-game exchange of greetings between Liverpool and Manchester United and manager Kenny Dalglish, another symbol of the new Liverpool, compounded the problem by defending Suarez for an incident he claimed he didn't even see.

From the get-go, Liverpool's handling of the Suarez affair has been questionable. Suarez was handed an eight-game ban for making racial remarks at Evra in the first meeting of the season between Liverpool and United. If evidence was circumstantial and the punishment might have been excessive, Liverpool seemed bent on one goal: putting the matter to rest.

Liverpool management should have been confident everything was under control when it issued a statement earlier last week that Suarez would shake Evra's hands before the game.

But Suarez made sure the matter won't die when he walked past Evra without taking the United captain's extended hand.

United manager Alex Ferguson was quick to pile on the blame, saying Suarez was "a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club … The player should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again. The history that club's got, and he does that."

Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor called on Henry and fellow owner Tom Werner to intervene. "It is a matter for the owners. This has to be dealt with at the highest level to resolve this festering mess."

To compound Liverpool's problems, Dalglish said he did not see the incident and then ripped the TV reporter questioning him after the game for even bringing up the idea that Suarez might have done something wrong.

"I think you're bang out of order to blame Luis Suarez for anything that happened here today," said Dalglish.

By Sunday, Dalglish had changed his tune.

"All of us have a responsibility to represent this club in a fit and proper manner," he said.  "That applies equally to me as Liverpool manager. When I went on TV after yesterday's game I hadn't seen what had happened, but I did not conduct myself in a way befitting of a Liverpool manager during that interview and I'd like to apologize for that."

Suarez followed suit: "I have not only let him [Dalglish] down but also the club and what it stands for and I'm sorry. I made a mistake and I regret what happened. I should have shaken Patrice Evra's hand before the game and I want to apologize for my actions. I would like to put this whole issue behind me and concentrate on playing football."

In the aftermath of his eight-game ban, there was already some doubt about Suarez's future in the EPL, but Saturday's incident probably sealed his fate.

No matter what Suarez says, it's hard to see the issue going away.

It leaves Liverpool very much in a bind: how to recoup its $32 million investment in a player who needs to leave England.

And it brings up the problems Henry and Suarez have on the home front. For those who don't follow baseball, here's a quick summary of the problems in Red Sox Nation:

Boston endured an epic collapse last fall, dumped its popular manager Terry Francona and spent the offseason dealing with reports that three starting pitchers hung out in the clubhouse drinking "rally beers" and eating fried chicken during games.

As the opening of spring training approached, the Red Sox were slow to rebuild -- a problem some in the Boston media blamed on the club owners' massive investment in Liverpool.

Following the latest Suarez flareup -- an incident that he says makes "the fried chicken and beer 'scandal' of last fall look laughable by comparison" -- Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe says, "This incident begs the question of whether Henry is stretched too thin owning two high-profile teams on different continents. Not financially, but physically."

Henry, a math genius who made his fortune predicting trends in commodity prices, showed he has a quick temper when he became so incensed by what he was hearing on a Boston talk radio show one day last fall that he drove down to the station and demanded to be given air time and allowed to give his side of the story of the Red Sox problems.

One can only imagine how Henry reacted Saturday morning when he saw Suarez do exactly what he was told not to do and then heard Dalglish make a fool of himself.



20 comments
  1. Brian Damphousse
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 7:57 a.m.
    Cue Gardner's defense: Suarez is Latin, therefore he can't be wrong; the offended are Anglo-Saxons or Anglophone Celts or Anglosphere inhabitants, therefore they can't be right. I wonder what the ponderous,transparently envious Eduardo Galeano, another axe-grinding hack, will serve up as an apology.

  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 9:15 a.m.
    In the midst of all this Suarez issue, one point was not considered by all pundits. How was he feeling at the time of the handshake. This is a man who felt that he was framed by his opponent and was used as a scapegoat by the whole English soccer establishment (administration and media) who took it on themselves to teach the rest of the world a lesson. Now, he has to live the rest of his live with a stain on his reputation as a racist although the committee and Evra himself clearly stated that he was not a racist. And now he must shake hands with the perpetrater. Initially, he agreed to it. But nobody knows what went through his mind on seeing Evra in person since the trial date. It might have brough back all these bad feeling. This issue should have been resoved earlier through a sit down between the two in a presence of some professional help to resolved any lingering feeling between the two of them. Suarez's hard feeling will go on for a long time, if not for ever; not dissimilar to Zidane's hard feeling after he was insulted and later headbutted Materazzi in the WC final. that issue is also still not resolved between the two. My prediction is that The English media won't enjoy another run to this story again becuase in all likelihood Liverpool will sell the player in this coming off-season.

  1. Roger Brooks
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 9:20 a.m.
    Brian Damphousse,Uh? What does that even mean? I don't know what that mean, No one knows what that mean but it's provactive. It get's the people going. Your post was a good summary.

  1. Tom Jedrzejewicz
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 10:05 a.m.
    I don't have a lot of sympathy for Evra in this deal. He has a history of crying "I was abused" after particularly poor showings. Everyone involved, particularly the FA, behaved cynically and was far more interested in looking Suarez should never have agreed to shake the man's hand .. I wouldn't have. He should have said something like ... "I won't shake his hand because I have no respect for him. He lied to make excuses for a poor performance and get me suspended." Evra demonstrated *his* class and grace by his running to taunt Suarez after the match. He should have received a red card for that ...

  1. Mike Gaynes
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 10:11 a.m.
    Gus, I think you're just flat wrong. Suarez said something racist, and said it repeatedly. Then he repeatedly lied about it. Period. All the other spin and excuses from himself and Dalglish and you are meaningless. Whether he's considered a racist by Evra or not is irrelevant -- he committed this offense, and then compounded it with his evasion before the FA and his infantile behavior this weekend. He is not the victim here, and he is not being unjustly pilloried by the soccer establishment any more than John Terry is. In a time when racist chants and bananas are still being thrown at black players in Italy and Russia, and a top black star in England has to close his Twitter account because of racial abuse, the zero tolerance policy is absolutely appropriate. No one cares about Suarez' "hard feelings"... and no one should.

  1. Mike Gaynes
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 10:20 a.m.
    Tom, Evra's history and lack of class are obvious, but irrelevant. Suarez said what he said, and he wasn't man enough to own up to it immediately or behave appropriately in the aftermath. And if you're bringing in Evra's history, bring in Suarez' as well... even before this incident, he was one of the least-respected players in the EPL, a relentless whiner and frequent diver who is even less well-regarded than Evra.

  1. Montele Graves
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 12:03 p.m.
    Suarez used the word "Negrito" toward Evra. That NEVER okay and cannot be defended, end of story! He used a racial phrase and meant it in a derogatory and demeaning way. Suprised Evra did not pull a Zidane, obviously acting with more Class in the situation, and again acting with more Class during the handshakes. Shame on anyone for thinking he is innocent.

  1. Allan Lindh
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 12:09 p.m.
    Just read a scientific paper in the British journal nature in which the word "negrito" was used repeatedly in a clearly neutral and descriptive manner. Evra was clearly yapping at Suarez in the game in question -- are we to believe he said nothing offensive? If he was a man, it would have been settled on the field. Suarez got screwed, in an atmosphere in which "racist" hysteria has gotten way out of hand. It's OK to say "F... your mother!", but not a passing reference to the color of your skin?? Eight games was way out of line, and Suarez did fess up to what he said. His defense was honest, "In my culture negrito does not equal ni..er." Everybody should calm down -- the players have put it behind them -- time for the press to do the same. Funny to compare this incident to Wayne Bridge's refusal to shake Terry's hand -- in that case he and the lady in question had already separated. Here that whining Evra cost a man 8 games salary and his reputation, and he's supposed to just kiss and make up. What a lot of crap.

  1. Brian Damphousse
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 12:15 p.m.
    I certainly don't mean to defend Suarez, because he's an insufferable, petulant putz, but "negrito" in Latin America is not offensive. "Negro," said bluntly, is. Negrito isn't. While it may not be "okay" to some, it's far from "never okay." I'm merely relating that which I have observed and been taught. Latin America is known for using epithets - in the classic sense - as vocatives. You may not like it or approve, but that's the way it is.

  1. K Hakim
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 12:56 p.m.
    The issue is how Liverpool FC, managed by FSG and figure headed by Kenny Dalglish have dealt with the entire Suraez and racism matter. As an ex-pat and former season ticket holder at Anfield, I categorically find them all GUILTY of destroying our once great name around the world. Frankly, Suarez must be sold in the summer. Dalglish must be replaced for defending him without any sensitivity to all Liverpool fans of colour. FSG should sell the club to an ownership that has a professional PR company take care of its image, marketing, legal dept and communications. Plus, the new ownership should commit to a new stadium and funds to buy top class players that will represent the club and not these average Prem players who produce average Prem performances that resemble another pathetic 5 year plan. To be a "cup" team is to go back to Houllier and Benitez. The club must move forward in a big way. This shame will not go away especially when Man United play Liverpool again, it will all come back with intensity next season, unless all of the above is done. Oh, for the rebirth of Shankly, who would never have allowed this mess to occur in my lifetime.

  1. Brick Top
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 2:05 p.m.
    Suarez, made a mistake. A huge mistake. But to call for his exit from English football is a much greater mistake in my opininion. Under immense pressure from his club and scrutiny from the media, Suarez went with his heart and opted not to shake the hand of the man he felt had wronged him. Yes, please call for his ouster from your game. He is better off than to play in front of the likes of those that demand he must go.

  1. Mike Gaynes
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 2:08 p.m.
    Brian, you apparently didn't notice that Suarez wasn't in Latin America. When we live and work in another country, we are expected to behave according to the standards of that culture, not what we do back home.

  1. Bret Newman
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 2:17 p.m.
    Does this mean the MLS can get Suarez at a bargain rate?

  1. Mike Gaynes
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 2:26 p.m.
    Allan Lindh, your ignorance is breathtaking. Why don't you ask Micah Richards, who just closed his Twitter account because of the racial abuse, whether "racist hysteria has gotten way out of hand"? Why don't you ask US internationals Oguchi Onyewu and Damarcus Beasley what they've seen and heard in their European careers? Why don't you ask Sol Campbell or Jason Euell or Mido about English fans? Ask Solomon Opoku or Peter Odemwingie, who were attacked by their OWN team's fans. Or ask any black player in Italy or Russia or Serbia how many bananas he's seen or how many monkey noises he's heard. And you want to minimize anti-racism efforts as "hysteria"?? That's obscene.

  1. Brian Damphousse
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 3:38 p.m.
    Mr. Gaynes: Right you are, sir. Please attend a US-Mexico game and remind the green shirts in attendance. The fact is, though, his intent may not have been to defame. And, let's face it, Latin American players have never been known for their cultural versatility.

  1. Mike Gaynes
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 3:59 p.m.
    Brian, I've been playing in a California soccer league for many years populated primarily by Latin American players, so I definitely agree with your last point. But I disagree with your viewpoint on intent. The player I belted several years ago for his commentary on my religious background (my self-restraint is not on a par with Evra's) and the one who set off a near-riot last season with his comments to our black players knew exactly what they were saying, and how they would be received. Suarez has been playing in Europe since 2006. He knew how Evra would react to "negrito", and his wide-eyed innocent act about the meaning and impact of the word was correctly disdained by the FA.

  1. Mike Gaynes
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 4:22 p.m.
    By the way, my compliments on "petulant putz"... nice alliteration.

  1. Brian Damphousse
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 4:26 p.m.
    I can't know his intent. And I certainly am not, well, inclined to give him any benefits of the doubt. But can we at least agree that generally the term "negrito" is often benign? That's all I'm really saying. I can't stand Suarez, to be frank.

  1. George Hoyt
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 7:53 p.m.
    Lively and important conversation here. Its clear the whole issue has been fraught with mistakes and egos which is not surprising. Where are the calm and sensible heads? Seems like there were a few conversations on and off the field during the game and I'm curious to know what was said. Offenses of this magnitude need great care and tact- something in short order it seems. Prompt response is good as this kind of behavior should not be tolerated, but do away with the personal judgements, please. Both players have poor attitudes- why is Evra's behavior after the game not being scrutinized to the same degree as Suarez's before the game. Equally egregious if you ask me- like a poor tempered 5 year old (petulant is the right word, kudos). The best thing for Evra to do when Suarez doesn't shake his hand is laugh- but no, Evra is as culpable for the whole thing as Suarez because of his response. These are good questions to raise and think about so next time, hopefully, the ones with influence in these events make better choices- perhaps we would never have heard of this fiasco in first place had it been dealt with sanely.

  1. George Hoyt
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 9:24 p.m.
    Negrito is used as a familiar, benign word in many Spanish speaking cultures. Not in too many others though. Perhaps Suarez was just oblivious? Maybe Suarez will go to Toronto- they seem to have great success with foreign signings!


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