Anti-racism group criticizes Liverpool
LONDON -- Liverpool's global reputation is being harmed as the club backs Luis Suarez despite his suspension for racially abusing an opponent, a group campaigning against racism in soccer said on Sunday.
The Uruguayan forward was banned for eight matches last month after being found guilty of racially insulting Manchester United's Patrice Evra during a league match at Anfield on Oct. 15.
Following the release of an independent panel's report into the incident, Liverpool is considering whether to appeal but has been unwavering in its support of Suarez, with the whole squad wearing T-shirts with the player's face on them before a recent league match.
"We would call on the club to think again about their public campaign to dispute the charges and contest the principles involved in the case," said Piara Powar, executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe.
"As a club with a good international standing, the vehemence of their campaign is unquestionably causing them reputational harm."
Liverpool, which has until Jan. 13 to make an appeal, is owned by the parent company of the Boston Red Sox. It has previously questioned Evra's reliability but the 115-page judgment found the French defender was a "credible witness" and that Suarez's evidence was unreliable.
Suarez called Evra, who is black, "Negro" seven times during the on-field confrontation, according to the report.
With racism in soccer a closely watched topic in Britain, Powar believes the issue is finally being dealt with. England national team captain John Terry faces criminal charges over allegations of having directed a racial slur at an opponent in a separate incident.
"It appears the FA have taken their time to initiate a process that was both fair in its implementation of football rules, and in accordance with the principles of British justice," Powar said.
"Racial abuse between players on the field of play has been an unspoken taboo for too long, an area that has been unsatisfactorily dealt with by English football despite many cases over the past 10 years."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press