One of the more interesting effects of the Suarez-Evra incident (quite disappointed that none of the tabloids opted for “SuaVraGate” when mentioning this story) has been this clear demarcation of boundaries between the two rival supporters of Liverpool and Manchester United. When the story first gained attention following Evra’s complaint at the end of the match, the social media websites went into overdrive with accusations and counter accusations on both sides.
My initial thought was that it was a case of “he said, he said” and that because all of the facts were not available immediately after the event, once the results of the Football Association (“FA”) investigation were released that would be an appropriate time to discuss and evaluate the events that had occurred. The FA published their very thorough and detailed findings in which they specified the reasons for the length of the ban and the size of the fine meted out to Suarez.
My humble opinion is that I side with the FA on this one – I think Suarez is guilty of the charges and deserves to be punished. Is he a racist? I am not convinced that he is. Is he an annoying and irritating player? I believe he most certainly is. The fact that he plays football for a team I support does not prevent me from having an opposite opinion on what he does wrong. Ditto for Craig Bellamy – a passionate, talented and committed player, but his idiotic outbursts do him no favours as he is always in danger of a sending off.
There were many Manchester United (and other neutral) fans immediately attacked Suarez’s reputation for diving, the infamous World Cup handball and this attack on a player whilst he was still at Ajax. The outrage from the Liverpool camp was one of equal outrage with many attacking Evra over “his” alleged reputation for reporting racial bias where there was none.
This was a clear case of “us versus them” where “we” are right and “they” are wrong. Black and white, with no shades of grey in sight. Part of it fuelled by a sense of misguided loyalty to the team, where people feel they “have to” support the club no matter what.
The problem with a lot of the comments that were aired by supporters from both sides is that there were very few people prepared to listen to the other side. A clear case of the one who shouted loudest felt that they had “won” the discussion ensued. A lot of the opinions shared by various people were stated as if they were fact, when a lot of the information was clearly factually incorrect.
For example – “Patrice Evra has a history of making racist claims that have been proved false in the past. He has done so twice”. A basic search on the internet would reveal that both of these claims are clearly false, but that didn’t stop people from quoting this as fact to “support” their argument.
I don’t have a problem with people being passionate about their club or supporting their club, but I feel that it wouldn’t hurt for people to acknowledge the shortcomings of their teams.
None of us is perfect – we’re only human, after all.