We have grave concerns about the inadequate responses of Liverpool Football Club to the findings by the FA regulatory commission that determined Luis Suarez was guilty of racially insulting the Manchester United player, Patrice Evra.
Football is a unifying sport providing pleasure and entertainment to billions of people across the planet. Young people from every corner of our world passionately support their team. Football players are held in high regard and viewed as positive role models.
Clubs, players and managers have an important and globally recognized responsibility to demonstrate their commitment to the principle of common decency and fair play. Throughout the world, both on and off the football pitch they inspire and socially educate billions of young people who admire and mimic their actions.
The issue of racism in football is one that requires unambiguous anti racist leadership. The actions of LFC in the run up to and following the publication of the FA’s findings fell short of the high standard of leadership expected for a team of their standing in the football community.
LFC actions, in vehemently rejecting the findings of the FA inquiry, their public displays of support for a player found guilty of racist abuse and his subsequent refusal to shake the hand of Evra at a recent game is completely unacceptable. These actions we believe could be considered as inciting racial intolerance.
Whilst the subsequent apologies for the failure to engage with the traditions of a pre game “hand shake” are to be welcomed, there remains deep concern, about LFC’s absolute refusal to accept the findings of the FA’s investigation. As such these apologies fail to meet the test of genuine remorse and understanding. This is further negated by LFC’s failure to apologise for racism either through the club or Suarez.
Neither have LFC recognised or acknowledged the consequent damage to race relations resulting from their actions and recognised by many people of all races across the country. As a result, efforts to combat racism in football and the wider society in general have been critically undermined.
Compounding these serious errors is the failures of Liverpool’s civic leaders, many of whom have remained silent on these critical issues and have failed to publicly condemn LFC’s decision not to robustly and effectively challenge racism.
Such is the overwhelming power of the Premier League and the influence of clubs such as LFC it is imperative that this situation cannot be allowed to stand.
The international reputation of Liverpool as a city committed to race equality is at stake. In addition there is a real and urgent need to restore confidence in the campaign against racism in football, both here, in the UK and across the world.
(1) Publicly accept the findings of the FA into the Suarez case.
(2) Liverpool FC and Luis Suarez to publicly apologize to Patrice Evra.
(3) In partnership with Liverpool and national black and minority ethnic organisations commit to and sponsor an international conference on the issue of eradicating racism in football.
(4) Together with civic leaders sign up to a public declaration reaffirming commitment to combating racism and promoting race equality through proactive actions.