Saturday, 7 January 2012

Suarez vs Evra: A Modern Day Witch Hunt

I wrote a blog in September last year about the depressing rise in people who believe the utter nonsense that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated by some sort of government conspiracy. I pointed out that this was partly due to the internet with its Twitter, Blogs and amateur websites where anyone and everyone will have their say and state opinion as fact. Importantly I described the thoroughly depressing truth that many people will believe something just because many others do, with this common ridiculous argument given in defense of absurdity:

“There HAS to be some truth if so many believe it”.

I don’t think there will be a better example highlighting the power of ill-informed web chat and instant media to warp the minds of a population into acting like a brain-dead mob than the recent racism case of Luis Suarez, because make no mistake what this has turned into is a disgusting witch hunt on a national scale.

On the 15th of October 2011 Liverpool played Manchester Utd at Anfield and after the game Patrice Evra accused Luis Suarez of racial abuse. Soon after John Terry the England captain was accused of the same offense and then good old Sepp Blatter made the crazy statement saying there is no problem with racism in football. Crazy because there have been many instances of black players having bananas thrown at them and having monkey chants directed their way in Russia, Italy and Spain.

BOOM and so it begins. Racism is the big topic of choice and all eyes of the media fall on not the England captain but Luis Suarez.  You know, "the weasel faced, hand balling cheat of the world cup who throws himself to the floor whenever he is touched". Even before this incident Suarez had had to endure constant abuse from fans, a situation not helped by rival team managers such as Alex Ferguson (I refuse to call him Sir) attempting to influence referees by accusing him publicly of ‘diving all over the place’, which is a bit ironic hearing this from the manger of Ronaldo and Nani.

Now whatever your view on Suarez as a footballer that should be irrelevant when the charge is something as serious as racist abuse. Being given the label ‘racist’ can be career ending and have life long consequences. The Suarez case needed to be judged in isolation and the media to be responsible.

However, very early on in this case disturbing signs were emerging about just how our media were going to handle the story when the Sunday Mirror published an article with an interview with Alex Ferguson who despite being told by the FA not to discuss anything about the issue, went ahead and talked about the issue. In the article he proclaims “racism is creeping back into the game”. The picture chosen to accompany this piece? One of Evra and Suarez of course.

This was deeply irresponsible of both Ferguson and the Mirror because quite clearly it was stirring the pot and subliminally points the finger at the villain of choice, Suarez (even though he had not even been charged at this point). When the charge comes Suarez strongly denies it and it begins to emerge that there may be some confusion over the word ‘negro’ which in Suarez’s native tongue is not a racial slur. No internet footage appears of the incident and it appears there were no other witnesses. Clearly, this was not ever going to be a straight forward case.

But despite everyone’s human right of being innocent until proven guilty its quite apparent what the general public and media had decided, for the next two months Suarez is abused at every game he plays by away supporters and the media frenzy over racism escalates. Everyone and their dog now wanted to make it known that racism is VERY VERY bad and must be stopped! More often than not Suarez’s name was mentioned and his face pictured.

Remember this, by the time Suarez got to defend himself in the FA hearing he had had to endure two months of abuse and have his name dragged through the mud by the media. The public mood to exclaim to the world “we hate racism” is at boiling point, all the baying mob needed was a monster to throw their pitch forks at. 

They were not disappointed, the so called ‘independent’ panel of three white english men found Suarez guilty of racial abuse but state that Suarez is NOT a racist. Evra also states he doesn’t think Suarez is a racist. However, despite not thinking Suarez a racist they punish him to the max with a ban of eight games and a fine. Disgustingly the FA do not release the evidence along with the verdict, which when the case was clearly about a complex issue of the nuances of different languages you would have thought immediate clarification would have been preferable. For the baying mob the word Guilty and the maximum punishment was all they needed.
This was the headline from the Mirror (again). There really is no better example of how low the English media have gone than this utterly irresponsible and dangerous headline. By doing that the Mirror basically gave people permission to refer to Suarez as exactly that....a racist. Even the Neanderthals at the Mirror should have known what this would mean for Luis Suarez and his family.  Away fans will forever feel entitled to chant ‘you’re a racist’ when he plays and no doubt idiot passers by in the street will not be able to resist hurling abuse towards him. Shameful.

Liverpool FC released a very strongly worded statement clearly expressing that they failed to see how such a verdict could be reached when it is solely down to one person’s version of events against another.

Without the details why the verdict was reached and the pure venom spitting of the front pages the club unite around Suarez. The players release a statement in support and wear Suarez T-Shirts whilst warming up before their next game. Quite clearly to anyone with a brain these actions said to the world ‘We know this man is NOT a racist’, which is what the media WERE labeling him.
But no, the media with its unqualified commentators pore scorn on the club for defending a racist and defending racism. And don’t forget the guy they're defending is that "weasel faced, hand balling cheat of the world cup who throws himself to the floor whenever he is touched".

But of course it gets worse, much worse. The FA’s report was finally made public, at the oh so convenient time of New Years Eve. For the mob the report had everything they wanted to hear ‘inconsistent’, ‘unreliable’, ‘evidence rejected’ and ‘guilty’.

I find it genuinely quite scary that the vast majority of so called journalists from the sewer depths of the Red Tops up to the heights of organisations like the BBC have fundamentally failed to analyse this report in its entirety and see it for the agenda driven embarrassment that is is. Purely aimed to make a statement about racism.

I wont go into much detail to explain why because it is much better presented in these excellent articles by respected Liverpool FC writer Paul Tomkins:

Now let me make it clear, this is NOT Liverpool FC and its supporters ‘blindly defending' one of their own’ and therefore turning a blind eye to racism. It is about supporting a human being who has been branded a racist for the rest of his life based on nothing more than three men believing one person over another. When you read the report and discover how exactly they came to this conclusion you are left open jawed at how flawed the process was and even more astounded why everyone else can not see it. I suspect the worrying truth is that they can see it but choose to continue their witch hunt. Why let the truth get in the way of a good story eh?

The main two points is that the ‘independent’ panel believed Evra to be more reliable than Suarez and they rejected Suarez’s claim that he used the word ‘negro’ in a non abusive manner. I refer again to Paul Tomkin’s articles as there are SO many examples as to why these conclusions are absurd.  I will say this regarding Evra’s credibility though, he is known for previously making a FALSE accusation of racial abuse and just that simple fact alone should place significant doubt over his testimony. And please look at the following youtube clip of Evra using the ‘N’ word. In the hearing Evra said he would never say the word. CREDIBLE?..........REALLY?
No one is saying there are not inconsistencies in Suarez’s testimony and the way Liverpool handled themselves in the hearing leaves a lot to be desired but when the charge is as serious as racial abuse, you would think there would be the need for extremely strong evidence. Even when using the FA’s 'balance of probabilities' the report is flawed, every inconsistency by Suarez is used as evidence of guilt whilst Evra is inexplicably given the benefit of the doubt. And if the FA really want us to believe that there was no bias then WHY has Evra not been charged for admitting referencing Suarez's race by saying ‘Don’t touch me South American’?

How exactly do three white men have the right to decide that they find it ‘inconceivable‘ Suarez could not have used the word  ‘negro’ in a non abusive way? There is obviously a real inability for people in this country to get their head around the fact that this word in other parts of the world has NO derogatory connotations, and their opinion of it being ‘inconceivable’ is exactly that, their opinion, NOT fact. Whilst they're busy telling foreigners how they are allowed to speak maybe they should charge the entire country of Argentina for racist abuse:
The fact of the matter is that the media and the online frenzy seen on Twitter and other chat rooms has rocketed up the issue of racism to boiling point. Now everyone is clambering to make it known they are not racist, and the best way they see to do this is to morally condemn Liverpool FC and Suarez. Liverpool’s decision not to appeal was ‘not good enough’ and an apology by Suarez was ‘not good enough’. Just like a swarm of Piranha in a feeding frenzy the attackers are unstoppable, the web is festered with amateurs and so called professionals constantly pouring fuel back onto the fire with an anti-Liverpool rage that seems out of control.

I am writing this the morning after Liverpool beat Oldham in the FA cup and Oldham's Tom Adeyemi has claimed he was racially abused by a supporter in the crowd. Well, what better news for the frenzied mob?!!!! Before the facts are known and claims investigated the mob on Twitter know what this is all about:

"So a liverpool fan racially abused an oldham player,I’m not surprised cuz when u have kenny dalglish backing suarez wot the hell do u expect" 
Oliver Holt's reply:
"I think you’re right. I also think that thankfully, what we’re seeing here is black players not prepared to ignore any more" 

Now Oliver Holt is a professional journalist...... and that's probably one of the funniest jokes you’ll hear all year.  But to publicly agree with such a flagrantly absurd statement is deplorable, utterly irresponsible and most of all phenomenally hypocritical? Why I hear you ask, well because Oliver Holt has written biographies about a certain John Terry, John who? John Terry, you know the England captain accused of the same charge who has been defended by his club and a certain Mr Holt. But i forgive you for forgetting because  apparently video evidence of him saying ‘Black C**t’ is very different and not worthy of a national hate campaign, plus when you play well reporters will actually praise you for doing so with such a terrible accusation over your head.

This is total lunacy and right now I am fully ashamed to be English, if the government here weren’t so strict on the issue I would seriously consider changing my nationality to Namibian!

Liverpool FC has been accused of bringing the game into disrepute and discrediting the anti-racism message. On the contrary, in such a rush to be seen to take racism seriously the FA have found a player guilty with no conclusive evidence whatsoever and instigated a media circus dripping with xenophobia that I truly believe will be remembered as one of the most shocking examples of a baseless character assassination by media in modern times.

If a supporter at Anfield DID shout racist abuse then he needs to be banned for life. But clubs whose fans chant ‘You’re just a town of racists’ as they did last night also need to be heavily punished. Because if Luis Suarez is hounded from this country it will be to the eternal shame of the FA and all those leading the mob online, as we would have proved ourselves not to be a nation of tolerance but instead a nation of easily lead mindless bullies who will happily see someones life ruined just because they look a certain way and speak a different language.

When Suarez has served his ban will the public and media allow him to get on with us life - "The weasel faced, hand balling cheat of the world cup who throws himself to the floor whenever he is touched"?

Sadly I’m not optimistic......

EDIT - Good news there is more intelligent life out there: