“Luis Suarez got it wrong.”
Jamie Carragher is not afraid to hold his hands up and say he was wrong. Patrice Evra was magnanimous about the matter in 2011 and he held no grudges as the years went on.
Back in 2011, Evra was playing for Manchester United when he reported racist abuse from then-Liverpool striker Luis Suarez during a Premier League encounter. Suarez received an eight-game ban from the English FA and a £40,000 fine but Evra bore the brunt of some awful abuse from Liverpool supporters when the teams met, over the following seasons.
The day after the Uruguayan was banned, Liverpool players wore ‘Suarez 7’ jerseys before a league game against Wigan. The players were showing solidarity with their teammate but Jamie Carragher feels the club handled the situation badly.
During their joint appearance on The Football Spin, Carragher and Gary Neville spoke about how the current generation of footballers are using their platforms very well to tackle – among other topics – inequality, social injustice and racism. Carragher also addressed the Evra-Suarez incident, and its aftermath.Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez in action during a Premier League match. (Credit: Getty Images)
“I sat in a dressing room in 2003, I think it was, next to Ashley Cole, having seen him being abused and heard him being abused, playing for England,” Gary Neville recalled. “And went and got my shower after the game, got on the coach, went back and never thought of it. And neither did any other player on that team.
“We never mentioned it. It was almost accepted… and I look back now and think how unacceptable that is and how bad that was, that we didn’t pay attention to this abuse and discrimination that was going on right around us. And now players are rising up against it, and rightly so.”
“The thing with Patrice Evra,” Carragher began, “and what I was pleased about – after he came on the show – and when I apologised on behalf of myself and the club… I think the club got in touch with him and the club exchanged contact numbers with him. He was the first to tell me that the club had been in touch with him. He was really pleased about that.
“Going back, I think that’s a big issue. There was an issue last season with Manchester City as well, with two players – Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy – where something was going on. And the unfortunate thing – and every club is guilty of this, if you go back into the past – it becomes this tribal thing of ‘The Club’ rather than what’s right or wrong.
“It’s like, ‘We’ve got to defend our club’. The club can’t be seen to do anything wrong, or the club supporting Luis Suarez. Other clubs have been in those situations and, a lot of the time, clubs should come down heavier on their own players. Racism is right at the top of that list, but there’s other things and situations.
“I think, too often now or certainly in the past, clubs have been too quick to support their own players whether they’re right or wrong.”
Carragher is hopeful that the tide is turning and cites Chelsea’s swift response to identify and ban supporters when Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling suffered racial abuse during a league encounter, last season.
“But that’s where Liverpool got it wrong,” Carragher adds. “Luis Suarez got it wrong. He made a big mistake and we, as a club, got it wrong. What we did with the t-shirts and how we came out and supported him at the time.”
Evra says he forgave Suarez at the time and has since spoken to him on a couple of occasions since. The French international revealed that Suarez got his vote for Footballer of the Year at the end of that 2011/12 season.
You can listen to the full interview on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, or Spotify.
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