After a week in which Luis Suarez was left to walk alone by the power base of his current club, it was some old friends who showed the unreserved loyalty and support that he should have got from Fenway Sports Group and the Liverpool FC board.
The day started with Suarez’s Uruguay captain, Diego Lugano, claiming he “did not deserve” the criticism levelled at him throughout the past few months. Speaking with a level headed self-assurance, Lugano said “He has gone through a few months he did not deserve. He followed his principles. We live in a democracy and if you do not want to greet someone, do not greet them – and less so if that person has made you experience bad moments. It’s a football argument and many false moralists and hypocrites have profited, and Luis is the only innocent party.”
This statement was followed up by Uruguay President Jose Mujica, who underlined that there is “solidarity with Suarez” throughout the country. In a direct reference to Evra’s privileged upbringing, Mujica said “He’s a child born from poverty who’s leagues away from having received academic training in diplomatic protocol.”
The next event in an extraordinary day of support for Suarez came in the game between his former club, Ajax, and Manchester United. Before, during and after the game, the Ajax fans chanted Suarez’s name and even conducted a rendition of “We are not racist we only hate Mancs” in Dutch.
During his spell at Ajax, Suarez scored 81 goals in 110 games, was awarded the captaincy of the club at the age of 22 and joined the likes of Cruyff, van Basten and Bergkamp in their “100 Club”. His place as an Ajax legend is comfortably secured.
Following close behind the Ajax game was a match involving his first club, Nacional. Before the game, the players paraded a “Fuerza Luis” banner around the pitch to rapturous applause from all four corners of the ground.
In the crowd, there were lots of banners in support of Suarez, including two which read “Suarez is from Nacional so Evra must be from (hated rivals) Penerol” and “Wash your mouth out Ferguson before you speak of Sir Suarez”
Suarez will always be a hero in Nacional. He joined as an 18 year old in 2005 and scored 10 goals in 21 appearances to fire them to the domestic title.
The support Suarez has received from around the world is in stark contrast to the way he has been treated by Liverpool. Ian Ayre, the Managing Director, has changed his mind on Suarez based on the views of people who he perceives to be more important than the players and fans of the club.
Speaking just a few weeks ago, Ayre said “We will support him and our fans will support him. We’ll work with him because he’s a great player and a great guy. He’ll get 100% support from Liverpool Football Club.”
This 100% support did not last long. One article from a minor shareholder in FSG (New York Times) and some inappropriate comments from Standard Chartered were enough to convince Ayre to turn against Suarez. In cutting remarks over the hand shake incident he said “We are extremely disappointed Luis Suarez did not shake hands with Patrice Evra”.
The forced apologies from Dalglish and Suarez which accompanied this statement from Ian Ayre showed clearly that the current hierarchy at LFC are prepared to put money over morals. Worryingly for Liverpool, it was another sign that they have one of the weakest MDs in the Premier League.
In the wake of the rebuke from those he should have been able to rely on for support, Suarez will have taken great comfort from the events at Ajax and Nacional. The incredible mark he has left on these clubs is clear to see. It underlines how fortunate Liverpool are to have him on their books. It also shows their terribly misplaced priorities over this affair.
Two continents spoke with one voice yesterday to ensure that Suarez will not walk alone. In doing so, they showed up the current Liverpool hierarchy as misguided, financially motivated capitalists.
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