Minggu, 12 Februari 2012

When I see you Suarez, I go off my head

Some say that you never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory. When Luis Suarez refused to shake the hand of Patrice Evra at Old Trafford yesterday however, you sensed the significance of the moment would shape the longevity of the memory. Relations between England's two most most successful clubs - who have not exchanged a player since 1964 - continue to sour, both on and off the pitch.



Pre-match handshakes at Premier League matches are a recently invented 'tradition'. They were introduced to suit the requirements of international television broadcasters, allowing them time for an advertisement break. The Premier League need to stop globalising and start prioritising.

A cancelation of the ritual for the QPR-Chelsea FA Cup tie due to the race row involving England captain John Terry and Anton Ferdinand, and the drama that followed at the Theatre of Dreams, support the case to have it discontinued. Liverpool supporters would have welcomed this move even before yesterday's league meeting, as it interferes with the traditional timing of the pre-match You'll Never Walk Alone rendition at Anfield.



The latest twist of the Suarez-Evra racism saga has been magnified by an unhelpful modern ritual imposed by television executives - yet press conferences aside, the media's role in this instance was largely circumstantial.

The French fullback offered the Uruguayan a lowered hand, with no initial eye contact. It was a disrespectful gesture of respect. It was a gesture nonetheless. The former Ajax frontman could have done the same, many argue he should have done - but he chose instead to publicly declare his dissatisfaction at the outcome of the racism case that saw him hit with an eight-match ban. The Liverpool corner deemed contextual semantics to be significant in 'that conversation', yet these were largely ignored by the three-man panel, and Suarez feels aggrieved.

Following the convenient adjournment of John Terry's case until after the European championships, this week saw Fabio Capello's principled resignation as England manager. The FA's temporary replacement Stuart Pearce soon had to face the embarrassment of defending himself, as videos of him racially abusing Paul Ince during a Manchester United v Nottingham Forest match in 1994 gained repeated air time. Let's ignore his brother's role in the BNP (“the country is full up”, Dennis Pearce declared before standing in the 2009 European elections), Pearce should be judged on his own actions, and the FA on theirs.

'Racism' currently dominates British football's sanitising political correctness campaign. However, English footballing authorities overlooked the relevant linguistic nuances that divide Spanish and French, but the less complicated case involving Ince and Pearce (who were raised 25 miles apart) received a different response.

The PFA's overpaid longstanding chairman Gordon Taylor pointed out that Pearse apologised for being racist. Suarez however continues to protest his innocence, so refuses to apologise, or shake on it.

In a post-match interview an aggravated Alex Ferguson branded Suarez a "disgrace", claiming he should never play for Liverpool again. The Scot implements a confused criteria, for apparently refusing a handshake is worse than kicking a fan in the head. After serving his ban for the infamous Crystal Palace incident in 1995, Eric Cantona continued to play for Manchester United until his retirement in 1997.



Ferguson's Liverpool counterpart Kenny Dalglish continues to be vilified for his support of Suarez and his defence of his club. The fourteen title winning, three-time European champion has coped with triumphs and tragedies throughout his career. Yesterday, an angry Dalglish stood up for his club and his player and Suarez stood up for his principles, whatever you think of them.

British broadsheets are likely to respond by focusing on Manchester United's 'dignity' and Liverpool's apparent lack of it, and misrepresent a Scouse understanding of the notion in the process - as yet another example of the distinction between England and the rebellious enclave that clings to the Mersey. One unbalanced headline reads 'Outraged by everything and ashamed of nothing', as a reference to Dalgish's handling of the post-match press conference. English tabloids will play up the tunnel bust up and Evra's celebration. Someone will point out the scoreline.

Evra had every right to celebrate the win that saw Manchester United go top of the league in the way he did. He didn't run up to the Liverpool fans as Gary Neville did following United's last minute winner in this fixture in 2006. Evra's team won the game and as captain he will consider himself entitled to a bout of triumphalism, particularly in the circumstances.



As GMP officers were confiscating Red Issue fanzines from Man United supporters due to the LFC Ku Klux Klan cut-out masks printed on the back (on the suspect grounds that they were "potentially offensive"), home fans in the ground sung of their hatred of "Scouse bastards", before Liverpool-born Wayne Rooney scored the two decisive goals early in the second half.

This is definitive racism, and Liverpool fans responded in kind.

Suarez' inevitable goal scoring contribution proved merely consolatory, yet the travelling support sang "when I see you Suarez, I go off my head" in recognition and adoration of the Uruguayan, interspersed with songs about their more famous number seven.

Just when Ferguson and Evra began to get paranoid about the reference, the away fans continued to offer their position on the player who divides British footballing opinion: "He scores a goal and the Kop goes wild and I just can't seem to get enough, Suarez."


© Dr Joel Rookwood & Soccerphile.com

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