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Us Versus Them

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.


About Ticha Pfupajena

I'm beginning to get the sense that my career as a professional footballer may not happen. As a result, I'll try write about football and sports instead....


8 thoughts on “Us Versus Them

  1. Maybe footballers should finish high school before they are allowed to play. It may help avoid some of the childish behaviors we see.

    Posted by 10November2009 | 03/01/2012, 15:52
  2. I like the way you have put this. Sometimes we get so passionate that irrelevant “facts” are thrown in.

    Football is one sport Where verbal abuse by players and fans has become the norm. At times it can go overboard. In Fridays game Liv v Newcastle, you could see the Newcastle fans shouting profanities at Bellamy as he took the corner. Of course he ignored them and wisely so.

    As for Suarez. Maybe an apology would help from a PR perspective.

    Posted by Ning | 03/01/2012, 16:38
  3. Very good piece. nothing much to add

    Posted by Tafarell | 03/01/2012, 17:33
  4. Good analysis of the situation and the reaction of the fans. Some of the language used by supposed fans in their attack of Evra was just amazing. Frivelous use of the N* word shows how much of a problem racism really is in the Uk Football space.

    However,this is where I also have my gripe with the FA. In the case fo Luis Suarez there seemed to be an agenda. In fact, it seems everyone outside Liverpool has an agenda hence the automatic backing he has received from many a Kopite. I was reading this article on how “Liverpool and Suarez just need to say sorry, no matter how aggrieved Suarez was with what Evra said to him.” According to Suarez, Evra used racist language towards Suarez. It smacks of the black victim syndrome that I find very annoying. The FA seem to be punishing Suarez for the sins of their riddled past (lest we forget that Suarez himself is a foreigner in England and not exactly “white”).

    The true issue here is that intended or not Luis Suarez was labeled a racist, which he is not. There is evidence of him working in anti-racism campaigns and this documentary here http://bit.ly/tHB4pK of some charity work he did while in South Africa. He is hgowever guilty of using racist language and should rightly be punished for this.

    The FA failed to take this opportunity to lead by example and condemn the use of racist language by players and fans. Sepp Blatter’s comments while ridiculed, betray the current culture in football of using racist language to rile up opponents.

    I feel Liverpools PR team really does deserve to be fired. Liverpool have come out in the defence of their player’s reputation (as he is accused of being racist) and gained the ire of many. They should really have taken corrective action regarding Suarez’ use of the term Negro (whatever the meaning in South America) and made reconciliatory measures to Evra. To say that supporting Suarez is thus supporting racism is absolutely ridiculous, and the one sided blind approach to the situation that has fuelled the Us vs Them stance.


    Posted by D Rock | 04/01/2012, 10:03
  5. The problem with the FA report is that the “racial insult” claims are not corroborated by supporting witnesses or video evidence. It still comes down to one man’s word against another’s.

    The FA’s language experts said: “the use of ‘negro’ as described here by Mr Suarez would not be offensive. Indeed, it is possible that the term was intended as an attempt at conciliation and/or to establish rapport”. (FA Report, paragraph 190).

    However, those same experts said that if Evra’s account of what Suarez said were true, his remarks *could* be taken as racially offensive.

    But there’s still no evidential basis for definitely confirming or dismissing either man’s account. In a court of law it would be “not proven”. But here there’s a highly subjective case of “balance of probabilities”.

    Unfortunately, the FA report itself has a lot of inconsistencies (which most journalists haven’t spotted – in their rush to go to press). I’ve written about these inconsistencies (and other worrying matters about the whole issue) here:


    Posted by NewsFrames | 06/01/2012, 14:41
    • Very good points raised NewsFrames.

      Agreed that this came down to one man’s word against another’s. The main point which the FA (and media) drew attention to was the Suarez evidence being “unrealiable”.

      Having read your blog post, I would tend to agree with the “lazy journalism” which saw very similar headlines from most media outlets.

      Posted by Ticha Pfupajena | 06/01/2012, 15:02
    • Excellent article by newsframes. It gives an alternate view to the whole matter. Sadly the FA is not a court of law and English Football is heavily influenced by the public opinion (mainly led by the media). With the facts stated in the article, Suarez would have a decent shout at an appeal in a court of law, but the FA seemingly is a law unto itself. Lets hope they have not opened Pandora’s Box with the precident they have set.

      Posted by D Rock | 06/01/2012, 15:23

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