How the FA smeared Suarez and an entire culture

by Graeme Wallace

Perhaps it is a little too early to pen an article about Luis Suarez and the FA while the toxic fallout to his eight game ban continues. Nonetheless, it is hard to ignore the ramifications that go a lot further than the beautiful game.

Details of why the FA charged Suarez are sketchy, partly due to their reluctance to release their evidence, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the three man panel’s decision rested on the claim that Suarez referred to Evra as “negro” or “negrito”.

We live in a Western society that is afraid to refer to race. If someone asked you to point out a black person in a street full of white people, chances are you would feel inclined to try and describe his clothes as opposed to his race. It is this cultural reticence that has dictated the FA’s decision. Our form of multiculturalism is one which tries to ignore the fact that people have different skin colours.

Luis Suarez is not from Western Europe. Insights into Uruguayan culture in light of this whole mess have been enlightening. In Uruguay, people don’t wince when a black person is called black. Uruguayan football commentators refer to players by a distinguishing characteristic – the Bolivian! The Argentine! The black!

There is a reason why Uruguay is up in arms about the FA’s decision. Uruguayan striker Sebastián Abreu was not exaggerating when he said that Suarez has “three million Uruguayans behind him.” These three million people, amongst  many others, are outraged that something that is the norm in their country is being treated so contemptuously by the English FA and English journalists.

There is no doubt that it is an alien concept to many of us that you can idly call someone black and not get any funny looks. However, if Suarez did call Evra “negro” or “negrito” he had no idea that this was offensive. John Barnes, a man who suffered horrific racist abuse throughout his career, believes “ignorance is an excuse.”

That’s what it ultimately boils down to. Suarez isn’t aware of the attitudes to race in England. He doesn’t realise the media are hung up about it, as is our government and public bodies. In Uruguay, it is acceptable to call a black person black, whereas in England it often is not.

Suarez is not wrong. He has a different culture, he comes from a different place. People in the north of England are different to people from London. People from London are different from people from Belfast. People from a far flung part of South America are different from people in Europe.

The Football Association, however, has refused to acknowledge this difference, nor accept it. Uruguayan culture isn’t quite there yet. Our attitudes reign supreme. It really is quite distasteful to think that this panel has sat down and considered how race is treated in Uruguay only to decide that an entire people are wrong.

The Suarez saga is bigger than football. It is about a clash of cultures, misunderstanding, self righteousness and fairness. The FA have opened a can of worms. It is not the FA’s place to call another country’s cultures and attitudes racist. Fear of race will forever stymie true progress on anti-racism campaigns in England.

62 Responses

  1. webstered says:

    What would have seemed the fairest way to deal with this would have been to warn Suarez as to the way the term would be viewed in England and inform him of serious repercussions if repeated. However if they truely feel what he did was racist then hand him over to the police, why has this not.been done? Because they could never prove the case. Also Evra’s racial slur will go unpunished even though he has admitted it. It really raises questions about the FA

  2. Rory Mitchell says:

    Surely if it was misinterpretation, Suarez should have come out straight after the game, or the next day with Dalgleish, and apologised profusely, citing cultural differences. Evra would have surely accepted this, everyone over on no punishment. Instead, they set out from the off to smear Evra, and despite constantly stating he has misinterpreted, there has never been an apology.

    1. Vi Su says:

      That’s because Evra actually DID say a racist term, where Suarez did not. “Negro” means “black,” “sudaca” means “inferior South American.” Why should Suarez apologize?

  3. Raoul says:

    While you make excellent points and highlight cultural norms that aren’t well known in the West, the fact is not that Suarez merely called Evra a ‘negro’. It is the fact that he intentionally used it consecutively towards him. Calling him a ‘negro’ once can definitely be seen as a more colloquial than controversial, but using it several times in a row cannot be seen as anything other than trying to insult Evra in the basest possible way.

    Anyway, just my two cents. Glad we are having this discussion.

  4. Jonathan says:

    This article dives deep into the subject matter and brings to light some vital points that the FA have missed. The FA in general need better leadership to help guide the future of football.

  5. Francisco Bermudez says:

    What has been done to Suarez is disgusting. He had no idea he was doing something considered racist. I would agree that a warning would have been the right thing to do. Unfortunately wherever he goes from now on he’ll be known as a racist. Shame on the FA.

  6. Jimmy says:

    Good article! FA report>Evra said something to Suarez about his sister, in Spanish. He then said something to Suarez about being a southamerican. He was the instigator. Evra was involved with manu people in a race incident with Chelsea. Evra was part of the French team in the WC. The FA panel seems racist towards Suarez. The FA should be sued for damaging Suarez and LFC. Uruguay FA will have a strong response, Im sure. Im no lawyer. And this is my opinion only. The FA has embarrassed themselves, again…

    1. jjon says:

      Ignorence is no defense,to use the N word 10 times in an argument is not being friendly in any part of the world,this happened in England. I’d like to see him go to the pub on a Friday and use it. I live in Wales to call some one a cunt is the nicest thing you can say to some one in Welsh,but I’m speaking English.I hope you are offended,

      1. Jerry says:

        I hope some day you travel to the middle east and inadvertently show the soles of your feet to someone, who then beats the shit out of you while you sit there in total ignorance of what you’ve done.

        1. jjon says:

          I beg your pardon ,

          You wish that on people,throw threats and insults around just for the fun of it you have no idea.Are you insulted by my language of the terraces or the language of love.I love football ,and I don’t like this sort of attitude encroaching on a sport, I hope one day you are in a library. (Looking up the word sport),
          Cariad. (that’s love)

        2. jjon says:

          Who do you reckon ‘ll win the cup then?

        3. jjon says:

          WEll then Cunt

      2. c McCaff says:

        JJon if you read the report you will see that the lovely evra elaborates on what he meant exactly by ten times when he said that suarez did not say it ten times but that this was just a french figure of speech for said it a couple of times, aye of course it was son……..also youtube the evra monaco video and go to 35mins in and see who’s the wee saint, the guy who couldnt bring himself say nigerito to the ref during the game because it was such a shocking word……..the FA are o corrupt and so scared of fergie it’s bordering on madness

        1. jjon says:

          Sueraz kicks Evra, Evra asks ,Why did you kick me,,Sueraz says because you are black, and then said it another five times,
          The fact that you say the lovely Evra either means you are not being objective or you want to have sex with him ,or both.
          I am gob smacked at the attemps by people, who must have very low IQ’s or something, to defend blatent racism you can crawl back under you rock now.
          You both support this behavior, sod lets go have a pint and I’ll film you going up to people saying exactly the langueg he admits to, your scum.

      3. Tommy says:

        If you did read the report it said that Evra insulted Suarez for kicking him and then Suarez said “calmate negro” which means “calm down dude”. I’m sure he repeated that and thats what Evra means with “repeated 5 times”.

  7. JF says:

    This is one of the most one-eyed, stupid, ignorant articles I’ve ever read. Even more so in light of the FA’s publishing of the investigation (which you didn’t even wait to read before castigating, good one).

    You prioritise Uruguay’s culture over UK culture why exactly? You lived there? Studied there? Speak the language and have immersed yourself in Galeano?

    This is a deeply unbalanced piece using your deep respect for Uruguayan culture (acquired when I wonder, recently I imagine) to suit an agenda. Pathetic.

    1. c McCaff says:

      ignorant is the FA’s report, Evra didnt once mention any of the other incidents which were based on lip reading esp the incident in the box, the alleged blacky, blacky, blacky….I’d love to see the camera angle the commission acquired which enabled them to see a further 3 inches to the left to read his lips…..further more the fact that Evra called Saurez sister a cunt in Spanish before labeling him as some sort of low life south american, he deserved what he got and as ruud guillet said in a recent article, why get upset if someone says because you are black…..when you are…’s madness how you can get away with calling a person anything under the sun on the pitch but you mention black your a racist. There was never any sufficient evidence, if so why havent the FA released all this new camera evidence which incidentally Evra was shown before he was actually given the opportunity to pass comment on it unlike Suarez, read the facts and between the lines and get your blinkers off lad before you spout a lot of bollocks. This would never have stood in a court of law, they would have laughed it off

  8. Timbo says:

    While I’m sure this piece is (was) well-intentioned and is highly informative on Uruguayan culture it is built on a set of assumptions in the second paragaph that are now, in light of the report, pretty much void.

    I don’t think it is unbalanced though – it’s not even entirely about Suarez, and there is surely some empathy to be had if the people of Uruguay do feel that Suarez is being unfairly punished for something that is culturally acceptable there. He’s a football icon of their country playing in the most watched league of the world.

    However, I think the report confirms that Suarez’s evidence doesn’t amount to a reliable defence and the fact is his behaviour in the English premier league is governed by, and has to answer to, the FA’s rules and regulations.

    Which is why the author’s last paragraph is wrong. This case isn’t bigger than football – it has to be contextualised and handled within football, and within English football. While I feel eight games for the ban is probably a couple too many, the FA have acted in the best interests of English football as a model of the game with a global audience.

    1. jjon says:

      Well put, and pardon my French.

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