Luis Says Sorry But Mistakes Made By All Concerned May Mean That This Saga is Far From Over
On the stroke of midnight on Wednesday the media released details of what would be their lead story in the following morning's newspapers. Luis Suarez, it appeared had finally apologised for the racist remark that he 'uttered' towards Patrice Evra.
The apology itself took the form of a public relations exercise rather than a heartfelt one, directly aimed at Patrice Evra. Now I have no intention of adding any further fuel to the fire but the circumstances surrounding the situation surely should have deemed that it was televised, that way the player would be witnessed saying the words below The most telling sentence of course was this particular one.
"I never, ever used the word in a derogatory way and if it offends anyone then I want to apologise for that."
This was followed by:
"I admitted to the commission that I said a word in Spanish once, and only once, and I told the panel members that I will not use it again on a football pitch in England".
It is hoped of course that those two sentences will begin to restore the reputation of not only Luis Suarez, but that of Liverpool Football Club. Inwardly I suspect, both know that there is a massive mountain to climb and it is going to a lot of time and effort on the part of both.
Luis of course will serve the remainder of his ban - he has a further 7 matches to sit out and then he must begin the task of rebuilding his career - that is of course, if he decides to stay in this country. Over the last week there have been murmurings indicating that he may consider going abroad because of the treatment dished out to him by the Football Association and the media. It would be a great loss to the Premier League and indeed Liverpool Football Club if he chose to do this, but it would also be fully understandable.
Whatever he decides to do or indeed wherever he goes, he must immerse himself completely into fighting the bigotry that surrounds racism, be it through the community schemes that he is already part off or indeed setting up a foundation that would see him lecturing to people from all parts of the world.
Liverpool Football Club has now conceded that they handled the situation wrong from the moment, the complaint being made by Patrice Evra and Sir Alex Ferguson was overheard by Mr.Haughan. Now I am no public relations expert or indeed someone who is versed in the laws that surround sport in this country, but it would have been better for all concerned, once Liverpool had been informed of the situation by Mr Marriner, to wait for a copy of his report before rushing in to defend their player. As we all know, in most situations, it is better to think first, rather than rush in and get the wrong result.
And get the wrong result they did, because Luis and his good name has been dragged through the mud, due to his lack of understanding about the use of a word in this country, a word it is understood, he uses daily at home, whilst talking affectionately to his wife.
They also showed their support for Luis by wearing t-shirts with his picture on the front - whoever thought up that idea, was in my opinion not thinking straight. That sort of act is better left to the supporters. The players should have just left it alone after making their feelings clear either on the club's official website or indeed through the different social network sites that they use. It certainly would have stopped a lot of the adverse comments that became part of the media's match reports the following day.
The statements issued could have said essentially the same thing, but worded quite differently. They should also have had a signature a bottom, to ensure that the watching world knew they had come from the top. This did not happen and has unfortunately opened up a further can of worms. The media is quite rightly beginning to ask questions about the club's ownership and they need to be nipped in the bud and very quickly. I know we have for all intents and purposes returned the club to 'The Liverpool Way' of doing things, but sometimes the old adage 'rules are made to be broken' comes into play and this is one of them.
The Media have not come have also made some very bad mistakes since the 'verdict' was announced. Headlines have been written badly and articles have seemed to favour the Manchester United viewpoint. I agree with the point about the headlines, for the simple reason, I have made several complaints about them myself. I did this of course through the right channels, I did not go onto Twitter or Facebook and abuse those who may or may not have written them. I got the responses I wanted and have accepted their reasons. The articles have been deemed as abusive and libellous because they have not been read properly - people have seen the headline and not read or digested the article properly.ONE THING I MUST POINT OUT IS, THE WRITER OF THE ARTICLE DOES NOT CHOSE THE HEADLINE - THAT IS DONE BY THE HEADLINE EDITOR. He chooses the one that he feels will sell the paper because they rely on sensationalism and it has backfired spectacularly.
The abuse aimed at journalists on Twitter has been unwarranted and needs to stop. They write what information they are given either by their contacts, from press releases by the club's press department or indeed the weekly press conferences that they attend. They also write their own opinion pieces in their respective papers. A lot of these have been taken out of context. They are after all, doing what we do, and that is putting their own feelings into print. There is nothing wrong with that, we live in a country where free speech is allowed. They may not have felt the same way as we do, but that is just the way it is. It is just a great pity that those who feel they have a right to defend their club, do it is such a way that any contact, we have with the media through the social networking system, will soon be gone, because all they did was let's face it, do what we all wanted to do and discuss the ongoing situation.
I am sure that if the lines of communication between the club and the media had been a lot more open than they have been, the situation would have been reported and dealt with in a much better manner.
Now to the Football Association, we all know that their investigation was flawed from the moment it was set in motion but, at the moment, there is nothing, we the supporters can do. We have to take a back seat here and wait for things to happen. Because happen they will, they will not come out of this as well as they believe they have. Questions will be asked by any club or player ordered to go before a disciplinary committee. No verdict will be seen as the correct one from now on. At some point in the future , the 115 page report that was issued on New Years Eve, will be dismantled and the fallout will be massive not only for them but for all those, who decided to ensure that a grave miscarriage of justice would take place. They may not realise it now, but several careers will be in ruins and quite rightly so of course.
The government called for the FA to be dismantled last year and set up again with people who have no allegiance to football at the helm. This now needs to happen because until it does, even though they believe by reaching the verdict they have, they have shown FIFA that they can run the game. Unfortunately they have done the exact opposite. They have shown FIFA what an inept organisation they are by not having the courage to do the right thing.
So in a nutshell I have highlighted above what I feel to be major mistakes by the agencies concerned. Mistakes that were highlighted again this morning when the transcript of Sir Alex Fergusons Friday press conference were released.
His words were and I quote
"It's nice of them to do it through the press"
"You would have thought they would have come to Manchester United first"
"I don't see why there is any need for that (peace talks) to be honest".
Liverpool did indeed do it through the media last night to ensure it appeared in this morning's papers, although I am sure and I sincerely hope that Liverpool's press officer let Manchester United's press officer know what was being done. If not then serious questions need to be asked.
Questions that may ultimately lead to staff changes, because this whole affair has been handled very badly, not only by them but also by their PR department. Better lines of communication need to be opened up with the press - it is far better to have friends in the media rather than enemies who desperate for a story will print what snippets of information they get hold off, be it right or wrong.
A statement needs to be issued by the owners. This is quite possibly the only thing that will stop the alienation that is growing between the media and certain sections of the supporters. It will also I hope stop the bridge the gap that is beginning to appear between the club's supporters because of their differing viewpoint.
Most importantly, it may be the one thing that throws water onto the dying embers that are still out there. If it does not, then that fire is going to be re-ignited for the simple reason, this story may well have a long way to go yet.
Racism has been brought to the fore once more and we all need to ensure that it is dealt with and discussed properly. The one thing we must not do is ensure that the strides made to eradicate it over the last fifty years have wasted.