Ball Harambee Feb. 12 By Bagga Wilks
The Football Association went out of its way to protect Luis Suarez’s due process rights. He was given every opportunity to make the case of his innocence against the charges of bellowing racist epithets brought against him by Patrice Evra. He had the support of the Liverpool Football Club and his manager Kenny Dalglish. Anyone who reads objectively the findings of the arbitration board sees clearly that the evidence against Suarez was overwhelming. He was fined and suspended for 8 games.
It was in Suarez’s interest to put the racist incident to rest, put it to bed and to concentrate on playing ball. The insensitive Suarez in the gentlemanly handshake before the game refused to shake the hand of Patrice Evra, the Manchester United skipper.
When Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool manager, was queried by Sky News about the incident, the equally insensitive Kenny Dalglish was oblivious to the incident prior to the game and to recognize the serious nature of the offence.
Liverpool Football Club has reversed its position that the Club took regarding the incident in October and chastised both Suarez and Dalglish for their fueling and magnifying the racist incident. Both Suarez and Dalglish have apologized to the Liverpool Football Club.
Sir Alex Ferguson showed his class not just as a football manager but as a citizen of the United Kingdom in recognizing the explosive nature of such an incident. As Ferguson stated on Saturday, February 11 after the game, Suarez should not be allowed to represent Liverpool again.
The English Football Association must be commended also for their action of taking away the English captaincy from John Terry who is facing charges of racism brought against him by Anton Ferdinand after a game played against Queens Park Rangers. The trial was set to take place in February but the Chelsea management asked for a postponement until July after the season and after the European championships.
The reasoning of the FA is that even though Terry is innocent until proven guilty, the captain of the English football team has special responsibilities and that overhanging shadow was not appropriate for someone leading the English team.
The FA action triggered another reaction as Fabio Capello, the Italian managing the English team felt he was not properly consulted and has resigned as the English manager.
These two incidents reveal there is an alarming disconnect in the world of football. Footballers are naturally ensconced in the world of ball but it is foolhardy for them to be oblivious to the world surrounding football. That in part is certainly the case with the petulant Luis Suarez. He seems to be a boy in shorts playing a man’s game. Dalglish, his manager, is a manager in long pants who does not seem to have any understanding of the world around him. His ignorance and lack of sensitivity on race maters in a global sport have not helped his Uruguayan forward to grow as a human being.
John Terry, still the Chelsea captain, plays on an incredibly diverse team yet he is facing charges of racism brought by the brother of the man who he often is paired with as England’s two central defenders.
Fortunately, the English FA is wise enough not to allow these incidents to fester and infect the bodypolitic of the English Premier League. Footballers are part of a larger society and have an important role to play in eradicating racism and making the world more humane. Didier Drogba and other Ivory Coast footballers played an herculean role in ending the civil war in the Ivory Coast. Footballers have the obligation to adhere to a high level of civility both on and off the field.