The FA: Suarez banned for 8 games and fined £40,000

THE FA tonight announced that the charge of misconduct against Luis Suarez was found proven and that he will be suspended for eight matches and fined £40,000. Suarez has the right to appeal, and will get 14 days to do so from the date the panel issue the written reasons for their decision. The suspension and fine are suspended until either an appeal is lost or the player decides not to exercise that right to appeal.

The alleged incident took place on 15 October during the Liverpool v Manchester United match at Anfield with the news first broken by French TV that evening after Patrice Evra complained to a reporter for Canal+. After a period of speculation and a certain amount of leaking of information the player was eventually charged on 16 November. Another month passed before the hearing began, on 14 December, and that hearing lasted for six days, culminating in tonight’s appointment.

The panel will issue the written reasons for their decision “in due course”, whatever that actually means. Until then the player is available for selection by Liverpool but, essentially, is guilty until proven otherwise. Liverpool have already played ten competitive fixtures from allegation to announcement and will play their eleventh tomorrow.

The FA’s announcement:

An Independent Regulatory Commission has today [Tuesday 20 December 2011] found a charge of misconduct against Luis Suarez proven, and have issued a suspension for a period of eight matches as well as fining him £40,000, pending appeal.

On 16 November 2011, The Football Association charged Luis Suarez with misconduct contrary to FA Rule E3 in relation to the Liverpool FC versus Manchester United FC fixture on 15 October 2011.

A hearing took place from 14-20 December 2011 before an Independent Regulatory Commission of The FA to consider the charge.

The Independent Regulatory Commission announced its decision on 20 December 2011, which is as follows:

Mr Suarez used insulting words towards Mr Evra during the match contrary to FA Rule E3(1);

the insulting words used by Mr Suarez included a reference to Mr Evra’s colour within the meaning of Rule E3(2);

Mr Suarez shall be warned as to his future conduct, be suspended for eight matches covering all first team competitive matches and fined the sum of £40,000;

the [penalty] is suspended pending the outcome of any appeal lodged by Mr Suarez against this decision.

The Independent Regulatory Commission will provide written reasons for its decision in due course setting out:

(a) the findings of fact made by it;

(b) the reasons for its decision finding the charge proved; and

(c) the reasons for the penalty.

Mr Suarez has the right to appeal the decision of the Independent Regulatory Commission to an Appeal Board. An appeal must be lodged within 14 days of the date of the written reasons for the decision.

The penalty is suspended until after the outcome of any appeal, or the time for appealing expires, or should Mr Suarez decide not to appeal. The reason for this is to ensure that the penalty does not take effect before any appeal so that Mr Suarez has an effective right of appeal.

Liverpool are yet to make a comment on the news but in the absence of those written reasons it seems unlikely that any announcement would be more than an acknowledgement. Liverpool believed Suarez was innocent and it seems unlikely they would decide against making an appeal.

One comment

  • Jim

    Don’t know if you guys saw this on the DT Live feed: –

    17.02 Here’s a lengthy email from Tim Crowley:

    Now I’m not a legal professional, so I stand to be corrected, but it would seem to me that the FA have not stated either the charge or the verdict very well. The original charge is that: “‘It is alleged that Suárez used abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour towards Manchester United’s Patrice Evra contrary to FA rules.

    “It is further alleged that this included a reference to the ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race of Patrice Evra.'” Now yesterday’s statement makes clear that the verdict is that “Mr Suárez used insulting words towards Mr Evra”. These insulting words “included a reference to Mr Evra’s colour”.

    What do we make of this? Note that the reference to “behaviour” is not part of the verdict. The emphasis then is on the words used by Suárez, not his behaviour: on the ‘what’, not the ‘how’ (so the issue of ‘how he said what he said’, as James Lawton puts it the Independent, is irrelevant).

    The key question, then, is this: What were the insulting words? Whatever they were, it is stated that they included a reference to colour. The one acknowledged reference to Evra’s colour came in the context of a question that Suárez asked Evra. Just to be clear, according to the FA statement, the reference to colour is not in itself the ‘insult’.

    It presumably influenced the extent of the punishment, but not necessarily the initial verdict. What this means is that the FA must show evidence of insulting words, apart from the use of a word referring to Evra’s colour, to support their verdict.

    In other words, the issue, as it has been set by the FA in their statement, is not about whether or not Suárez used the word ‘negro’, or ‘negrito’; nor is it about his demeanour when he used the word. It is rather about whether the reference to Evra’s colour came in the context of verbal abuse.

    I would expect Liverpool FC should have no difficulty acquiring the services of a team of legal professionals who should be able easily to destroy the FA’s case, and overturn the verdict.

    The odd thing is, if it is true that Evra did indeed utter the words “Don’t touch me, you South American”, allegedly in Spanish, then the case is far clearer that Evra used insulting words which included a deprecatory reference to Suárez’s background, that could be considered tantamount to racist abuse, i.e., of treating another person less favourably on grounds of ethnic or national origin.

    Moreover, if Evra did say that in Spanish, then the context is a conversation in Spanish, within which the use of ‘negro’ or ‘negrito’ needs to be properly understood. And that would invalidate the argument that Suárez should have been aware of the potentially offensive connotations of the use of the English word ‘negro’ in the UK or other English-speaking countries.

    Thought it would be worthwhile hanging onto it