The FA respond to some questions
AN EMAIL was sent to The FA following on from the publication of their independent panel’s report into the verdict in the Suarez-Evra case. It’s taken them a few days but they have now replied. On reading the email it’s apparent that they received more than one email on the issue – their response includes answers to questions we hadn’t even asked.
Date: 6 January 2012 15:15
Subject: RE: Feedback from TheFA.com
Thank you for contacting The Football Association.
As you are aware an Independent Regulatory Commission found a charge of misconduct against Luis Suarez proven and has subsequently released the full written reasons of the commission. Liverpool FC and Suarez have accepted the sanction therefore Suarez will be suspended for a period of eight matches. Suarez was also fined £40,000 and was warned as to his future conduct.
In relation to your email we feel it is important to highlight the following:
a. It was accepted by all parties (including Mr Suarez) that the phrase “concha de tu hermana” properly translates into English as “f*cking hell”, “f*ck me” or similar and is therefore deemed an exclamation not a direct insult.
b. The Commission found as a matter of fact that Evra did not use the term “South-American” in respect of Suarez;
c. Evra’s further comments (i.e. “say it to me again, I’m going to punch you”, “okay, now I think I’m going to punch you”) were made in the context of, and in reaction to, him being spoken to in racially insulting terms;
d. Accordingly, there was nothing in Evra’s language which breaches Rule E3 when assessed against the standards The FA applies to all incidents of on-field verbal exchanges between players.
e. Similarly, language alleged to have been used by Dirk Kuyt could – on one reading – be said to amount to a breach of Rule E3; but, as stated above, The FA exercises a common sense approach to incidents of verbal exchanges involving players as they are seen to berate and engage with each other in relatively strong terms on a regular basis.
f. The FA therefore considers that there is a clear and significant difference between Evra’s comments and Suarez’s repeated use of racially insulting language.
We do appreciate all of the feedback we receive from supporters. This feedback is collated and used to build a picture of public opinion and is subsequently fed back internally within the organisation. Please rest assured your comments will form part of this feedback process.
Alex Burkwood | Customer Relations Officer
The original email referenced parts of that 115-page document, including the part where the panel played down the use of a very offensive phrase by Evra:
“Mr Evra stated that the goalmouth incident started when he addressed Mr Suarez, beginning with the phrase ‘Concha de tu hermana’. According to the experts, the literal translation is ‘your sister’s c*nt’ and it can be taken as a general swear word expressing anger, although the word ‘concha’ is not as taboo as the English word ‘c*nt’. It is thus equivalent to ‘f*cking hell’ or ‘f*ck me’. If directed at someone in particular, it can also be understood as ‘[you] son of a bitch’.”
As the report pointed out, “it is the Commission’s task to decide whether the use of the word in England is abusive or insulting. The use of the word in a particular way might be seen as inoffensive by many in Uruguay. The same use of the same word in England might nevertheless be abusive or insulting.” The document also said that the Commission: “…should apply standards that we consider should be applicable to games played under the jurisdiction of the FA. We are not deciding whether the words or behaviour would have been abusive or insulting if used in a match in Uruguay.”
It wasn’t explained why different standards were applied to Evra’s words and Suarez’s words. Translate what Evra said into English and the word being used would not only be unprintable, it would be insulting and abusive and would contain a reference to a person’s gender. It would also quite likely lead to a punch in the face if said in English to an English player – and no leeway for the player throwing the punch and getting a red card for doing so, even if the recipient of the punch got a card or a charge of their own.
Anyway, let’s go along with the panel’s convoluted reasons for using Suarez’s alleged words translated directly into English but allowing Evra’s to be adapted to fit in with the cultural rather than literal translation. There’s still a problem in what Evra said.
Point a. in the FA’s reply ignores one of the translations the experts said applied to Evra’s words. Evra had directed his words at Suarez meaning it’s fair to assume the meaning was “[You] son of a bitch.” For reasons not explained in their 115 page report the panel had decided to ignore or forget that “son of a bitch” translation by the time they’d got to the bit where they were explaining how they made their decision. By then they decided the “f*cking hell” or “f*ck me” version would do.
But that panel wasn’t sitting to look at charges against Evra, so it’s wrong to fast-forward to the summing up bits of the panel’s report to decide what Evra meant – and replacing “son of a bitch” with “or similar” (as the FA did in point a. of their reply) doesn’t cut it either. “F*ck me” and “F*cking hell” might well be an exclamation – but “[you] son of a bitch” is a direct insult.
For point b. – we hadn’t mentioned anything about that in our email to the FA. Nice of the FA to take time to reply directly.
Point c. The problem with this answer is that it’s based on the assumption that the panel got it right in terms of what Suarez said to Evra – and the FA are hardly going to answer based on any other assumption. If Suarez had said those things then nobody in their right mind would have a problem with Evra threatening to punch him – even though the FA would normally frown on retaliation for any reason. It’s taken them a while but at least the FA have given a reason that adds up.
What The FA are saying in point d., needs looking at again in light of the inaccuracies of what they said in point a.
Point e. Again, this isn’t something we asked about – but the difference between what Kuyt was alleged to have said and what Evra admitted he said is that, quite simply, one admitted it and the other didn’t. If Kuyt was going to be charged under E3 he’d be entitled to call other witness and produce other evidence to mount his defence – after all his version of what he said doesn’t match what Evra claimed he said. If Evra is charged under E3 there is already an admission as to what he said, although he could arguably call more witness if they helped him to explain why he’d said what he did.
And then we come to point f. We didn’t ask the questions about Evra in comparison to what Suarez may or may not have said. It’s obvious that the words the panel decided Suarez had used were far worse than what Evra admitted to saying. But does that make what Evra said – and he said it before Suarez said anything – acceptable? If Evra’s words had been caught on camera and microphone and then, for whatever reason, the rest of the exchange didn’t happen what would The FA have done about it? Instead of cameras and microphones we’ve got an admission – so why has nothing been done about it?
Evra called Suarez a “son of a bitch” for an innocuous challenge and waited five minutes to do so. He did this after arguing the toss (literally) with the ref (accusing the ref of lying) and after another offence which the referee said he could have been booked for (waving the imaginary card to Downing). He had a gob on him, to put it simply, and by the time he went up to Suarez to call him a son of a bitch he looked to be in a foul mood.
Whether it was “son of a bitch” or “your sister’s c*nt” it was insulting language and as soon as it came to light he should have been charged for it. He should have been charged before the other hearing took place, then the two charges could have been heard as part of the same proceedings – as was the case with his FA charge that was heard at the same time as other charges resulting from the incident that led to false allegations of racist remarks being aimed at him by Chelsea ground-staff.
There is no point going back to the FA and clarifying any of this with them – their minds were made up a long time ago (otherwise they would have charged Evra at the same time as charging Suarez) and their aims have been met.
Talking of which, Alex Ferguson said today that there was no need for his club to enter into discussions with LFC over the incident and with the return league fixture in mind. The ageing manager is probably quite happy with how it’s all gone, if he’s honest about it.