Reeling from the anger in which the FA treated the Luis Suarez – Patrice Evra row, I see that a lot of folks in my Red Brethren have been angered over ‘FA’s double standards’ over the England’s Brave John Terry racism case versus what they displayed when setting an example out of Luis Suarez. While today’s news that Terry is being stripped off the England captaincy is welcome, I would also like/request people to hold their reactions till the case has been decided.
Suarez – That Suarez was dealt unfairly by the FA and subsequently the media is not something that has an iota of doubt. Here’s a summary of our disgust:
- Suarez said a word in Spanish (négro) which is racist in English (negro) but only a descriptive term in Spanish and more so in his native colloquial
- Evra was the one who initiated the conversation in Spanish
- Evra initiated the confrontational conversation
- Suarez deposed in Spanish while the questions asked were in English and his answers were deemed to be ambiguous disregarding the fact that he hardly spoke English or understood it well
- Evra recanted his allegation from ‘nigger’ to ‘negro’
- Evra’s version of the number of times the alleged word was used varied from time to time
- There was no video evidence of what Suarez said. In fact, if he and the rest of the team denied saying it altogether, he would have gotten out free
- That Suarez accepted what he said but as per us, it is only a proof of his innocence that he was forthcoming about the conversation.
- While FA found Kenny’s, Kuyt’s and Comolli’s remarks differ slightly from Suarez’s the fact that Evra’s pals had a different accounts to what he said once back in the dressing room was not even considered.
- The FA trained Evra before he gave the statement (although slightly less incriminating since the case was FA vs. Suarez and Evra was FA’s evidence).
- The FA tried Suarez on the basis of balance of probabilities where as when it came to branding a person racist for life on hearsay, it should have done enough to establish that he did pass those remarks.
We are justified to despise FA’s processes here and the way they have conducted, what I and most others believe, is a ‘witch-hunt’. We would have wanted them to work on more solid proof . In the absence of proof, it wasn’t fair on Suarez the way FA treated him. In the meantime, it is pertinent to note that Suarez was not prosecuted or, thence, found guilty, by the Police or CPC. The entire process was run thru the FA.
England’s Brave John Terry and the Football Association – Now, John Terry’s case is slightly different. His case was caught on a camera and went viral on the internet. Then amidst the outrage, someone filed a police complaint against John Terry since racism is a criminal and punishable offense. That is where the FA had to excuse themselves from having an enquiry of their own and let the Crown’s Prosecution take over. John Terry was charged when the prosecutor thought he had substantial evidence to prove Terry’s guilt. The matter is now in court and would be duly heard and decided upon. The notable part of this process is that probably, and justly, John Terry would be convicted only when there is evidence that proves that he committed the alleged mistake beyond reasonable doubt. In case that should be the outcome, the Football Association may then, and not before, choose to levy sanctions/ fines and other punishments which they deem appropriate.
Why Liverpool fans should support the process in which John Terry is being treated – JT’s case is a template which could have served Liverpool and Luis Suarez well. The way he would be treated would be precisely how we would have liked Suarez’s case to be treated. Suarez should only have been pronounced guilty if what Evra said could be established beyond reasonable doubt since it is a matter of a man’s reputation. While I have no love for John Terry, I firmly believe that a man is innocent till the time he is proven guilty and just like we don’t want people to call Suarez racist (a. since he is not, b. since it the report says he is not, c. since the report is anyway flawed and fails to establish anything whatsoever) we would do ourselves a huge credit if we let Terry enjoy that little leeway till the case is decided upon. Ultimately, in whichever way the case is decided, it would give us a template on how Luis should actually have been treated.
What can the FA do immediately? – Well, if what is said to be believed, stripping JT of captaincy seems to be appropriate. Like in a job, there is something called ‘suspension’ where a person suspected and charged of foul-play is relieved of his immediate duties till such time the investigation establishes that he is innocent. It allows the rest of the team to function properly without any negative factors affecting their efficiencies. Further actions can be taken if the guilt is established or the suspension removed if the wrong-doing is not proved. On that note, relieving him of his English duties altogether should also seem appropriate given that he plays in a mixed race team now that he cannot prove himself innocent before the Euros. His form and desire to play for England should only make the decision easier.
What can the FA do after the case is decided? – Well, this is the tricky part. They have set a bad precedent and as I suspected earlier, it will, and should, come back to bite them in the back. Either way the case is decided, the FA cannot do anything that will satisfy all sets of followers of English football. Let’s look at it on the basis of outcomes –
a. The court finds Terry guilty – This should be easier of the two scenarios for the FA. The FA can fine and ban Terry further and move on. The tricky part is how much should that quantum of punishment be? Having found Suarez guilty of uttering a word although Suarez’s defense was that he was ignorant towards its implications in English culture, shouldn’t Terry be culpable of a more grave error since he would have known perfectly well what he was speaking? Him being English captain and all that, shouldn’t the ‘role model’ thing imply that he should be in for a more serious ban. What the FA may, but should not, also do is put forth the logic that Terry has already been punished once for the offense (by the Crown, probably £2,500 fine) and you cannot punish a person twice for the same offense. Well, I hope, for their sake, that they do not go down this path.
b. The court acquits Terry – Now this is a scenario that could be real tricky for the FA. What do they do when the court lets Terry go? One possibility is that they can accept the verdict and do nothing (again, I hope not). The other possibility, and what they should really do, is understand that the court used a higher standard to establish their verdict – ‘was not guilty beyond reasonable doubt’. However, the FA has a already set a precedent in using lower standards of ‘balance of probabilities’. There would then be demands to the FA to open their own investigation using the lower standard. Since the prosecution has already found enough evidence to go ahead and charge JT, I do not suppose that Terry’s case can hold water against a balance of probability standard.
However, there still are some people who are irrational and, quite simply, idiotic bigots – I can say that the FA’s approach to Suarez’s case was diabolical, I cannot say the same about their approach to the Terry case. There simply isn’t anything that the can do at this point of time except what I’ve written above (strip him off captaincy and may be drop him from the team). So I can’t fault them with much with respect to their handling of John Terry as of now. But, there are some people who need to wake up to what they say, and write. If a panel consisting of three people can, on the basis of balance of probabilities, in the absence of any evidence whatsoever, and trusting the ever-evolving and rehearsed story of the accuser find a culturally naive person guilty of using racist language, surely if the prosecution team says that they have enough evidence to charge a person to stand trial under the standards of ‘guilty beyond reasonable doubt’ should inspire the media to assume that JT is racist too? Oliver Holt and Martin Lipton from Mirror said that a person who uses a racist word multiple times (irrespective of the fact that he used a spanish word and irrespective of the fact that Suarez was not proven guilty but only assumed to be probably guilty by the panel) is a racist then surely the prosecution’s assertion that JT is guilty of passing that remark as caught on video should be enough for them to assume that JT is guilty? Let’s wait for the verdict on the case and see what these guys have to say then. In case the verdict is not-guilty, it would be interesting if any of these bigots urge the FA to investigate EBJT on ‘balance of probabilities’. Well, we know what Ollie would have to say then don’t we – ‘calling someone a black cunt may or may not be racist’, eh?
Finally, where’s Racism in all this? – LFC did not appeal to the FA against their ‘independent’ panel’s verdict was because they thought they were being incorrectly perceived as supporting racists. They could not have been more correct. Because the people leading the charge were the aforesaid bigots who have newspapers to sell and web-clicks to accumulate . However, LFC’s stance was far from condoning racism. Their protests and posturing was to tell the world that they support Suarez because he is not a racist! Simple English but the press in England could only construe the support in the way that would sell newspapers and not what might be true. It wasn’t about racism, it was about Suarez’s innocence. What has been unfortunate is that the media has used their high-handedness against racism to malign a person and brand him for life. Would have been nice if it was actually racism that they were worried about. Holt said that 40,000 people booing a person who complained of racial abuse could not be right. To pass such callous remarks is another attempt of giving an absolutely acceptable behaviour of football fans otherwise in the country a racial overtone in order to get more pageviews on his column. Did you hear the boos that Suarez had to endure at the Carling Cup game against Stoke? By your logic, should a person who complains who accuses (whether or not it actually happened is not material) of being fell (bodily harm) be booed like that? Anyway, the point is that Evra wasn’t booed because he was (allegedly) racially abused, or because he complained such or because of his race; he was booed because those 40,000 in the stadium that day and millions (yes, millions across the world) think and believe he was lying.
To sum it up, there’s something called karma. The FA and the media have set a precedent and let’s see how they react to the next episode. Fortunately for Liverpool fans, the Suarez ban is now over and we can now wait and watch how the two parties come out in the coming months. In the meantime, let’s give JT his due trial without ‘demanding’ anything or ‘accusing’ anyone and, as the saying goes, ‘wait and watch’…