The FA have this evening confirmed Luis Suarez (Beercelona) has been found guilty of racial misconduct towards Patrice Evra and have handed the Liverpool forward an eight-match ban and a fine of £40,000, pending appeal.
The Independent Regulatory Commission announced the decision as follows:
- Mr Suarez used insulting words towards Mr Evra during the match contrary to FA Rule E3(1);
- The insulting words used by Mr Suarez included a reference to Mr Evra’s colour within the meaning of Rule E3(2);
- Mr Suarez shall be warned as to his future conduct, be suspended for eight matches covering all first team competitive matches and fined the sum of £40,000;
- The [penalty] is suspended pending the outcome of any appeal lodged by Mr Suarez against this decision.
The fourth point here is crucial- the Merseyside club have 14 days in which to contest the decision, which means that Suarez is available for selection over the next fortnight. The length of time until appeal takes in four Premier League games- (wig, BLA, NEW, mcy) – and with Kenny Dalglish’s side struggling for goals right now, there’s every chance that, for as long as the club feel he is in the right frame of mind, Suarez will take part in these games.
Liverpool has since released a strongly worded statement last night and it’s pretty obvious, upon reading, that not only are they firmly behind their player, they will also be appealing this decision. The following excerpt sums up their thoughts:
We find it extraordinary that Luis can be found guilty on the word of Patrice Evra alone when no-one else on the field of play – including Evra’s own Manchester United teammates and all the match officials – heard the alleged conversation between the two players in a crowded Kop goalmouth while a corner kick was about to be taken.
It seems incredible to us that a player of mixed heritage should be accused and found guilty in the way he has based on the evidence presented. We do not recognise the way in which Luis Suarez has been characterised. Nothing we have heard in the course of the hearing has changed our view that Luis Suarez is innocent of the charges brought against him and we will provide Luis with whatever support he now needs to clear his name.
With the suspension on hold until after the outcome of any appeal, then, it’s impossible to speculate what games Suarez could potentially miss. Given that the FA have taken two months to reach this decision, it’s fair to say the likely appeal won’t be rapidly resolved.