Fake Plastic Respect

THE DAY Luis Suárez was charged by the FA for the incident with Patrice Evra the media had fallen over each other in a race to condemn Sepp Blatter for a comment he made about handshakes. What he’d said seemed to be along the lines of endorsing racism on a football pitch during a game – as long as the players involved shake hands afterwards.

It was a stupid thing to say and one that he’ll never live down, but if football was the kind of game the authorities want it to be – and that includes the English FA – the comment wouldn’t be completely without merit. But football isn’t a nice pleasant game played by people full of ‘respect’ for each other. It’s a regularly depressing game watched, played, run and reported on by far too large a proportion of selfish individuals. Respect in football is as fake as the outrage from the hacks who change their principles every time there’s a new line to go for to earn their crust.

Liverpool fans find it difficult to look at Alex Ferguson and see any good in him. Maybe there is some good in him – after all most Liverpool fans would have thought the same of Gary Neville but many now find themselves agreeing with a painfully high amount of his punditry – but it’s hard to see it.

It’s hard to imagine Manchester United fans would think any differently about Kenny Dalglish, certainly if the Man U opinion formers are anything to go by.

This applied long before Suárez and Evra had their disputed conversation and it will probably go on long after both players have hung up their boots or taken them elsewhere.

With that in mind it goes without saying that the two managers will think much the same of each other. Ferguson’s hatred of Dalglish goes back a long way and whilst many of Kenny detractors were laughing at his return in place of their beloved Roy Hodgson it’s unlikely there was much laughter from the more elderly Glaswegian.

Whatever really went on between Evra and Suárez, there still isn’t enough evidence to be completely certain. That’s something that’s been discussed at length by numerous people – and of course ignored by those who don’t like to sully their agenda with truth or questions about what the truth might be.

Sadly for football, and the fight against racism, the case has done nothing to make it easier to work out the truth of any future incident along those lines that takes place.

The FA’s independent panel seem to think there’s a good chance of it happening again – this is an extract from their lengthy report on the Suárez-Evra incident:

“We took into account the fact that it is a real albeit unattractive trait of human nature that we all act from time to time, to greater or lesser degrees, in ways which may be out of character. This is especially so when we feel under pressure, or challenged, or provoked, or pushed into a corner. We do and say things that we are not proud of and regret, and that we might try and deny, sometimes even to ourselves. We occasionally things that we would be embarrassed to admit to family or friends. It is not inconsistent to have black colleagues and friends and relatives, and yet say things to strangers or acquaintances about race or colour that we would not say directly to those closer to us.”

Quite an admission from the panel (imagine if Blatter had said that stuff in the last sentence) but the general point is fairly obvious. People do things they shouldn’t do, and wouldn’t normally do, in the heat of the moment if feeling under pressure.

And this is where the handshake comes in, or where it would come in if football was the kind of game the authorities like to pretend it is. If two players, on opposing sides, are angry with each other for some reason, the two managers, from the two opposing sides, should be able to sort it out. That ‘sorting out’ might still lead to action from The FA, it might lead to one or both clubs disciplining their own players, but if football’s the kind of respect-filled game the authorities want us to believe it is then that handshake idea works perfectly every time.

Even if the managers are at loggerheads there’s still – in this idyllic version of the game – plenty of respect between the officials higher up at both clubs. A director of football at one club can chat to a director at the other club. They get the handshakes started, the dialogue underway, the problems ironed out at least to a point where punishment is for something that happened, not an extreme playground argument version of what happened.

Football isn’t that kind of idyllic game though, not in its current guise, certainly not in England under the ‘control’ of The FA with a greedy Premier League atop the league structure, fair to itself but dismissive of the league that feeds into it.

The Premier League isn’t even fair to the punter. The price of tickets is astronomical, as is the cost of the tacky shirts the clubs throw out three versions of each season. The FA doesn’t care, it has its own tacky shirts to sell and as long as it gets the use of those players whose wages make those tickets so expensive why would they care? There’s always the option of watching on the TV – but even that’s out of reach of more and more people as the sport leaves its past behind and heads for a place that the people who made the game what it is would never recognise.

Handshakes used to be something that happened before cup finals and internationals. The players would line up, some dignitary would shake their hands, then the tracky tops would be ditched and some football would be played. Nowadays it costs so much to go to a bog-standard league game that maybe the powers-that-be feel they need to try and pretend it’s as good as a cup final. Handshakes you can hardly see anyway when you’re at the game, crap anthems you don’t want to listen to, football so poor that the talking points aren’t even football any more. And you pay a fortune to watch that.

A fortune to watch fake football.

And when the football is as fake as this you might as well just offer a fake handshake. If you don’t you’ll only get fake outrage.

Fake outrage like that from Patrick Barclay. Supposedly a respected writer, days after using Heysel as a stick to beat some prat on Twitter with, insulting and offending countless others in the process, he uses the word “immoral” to describe Kenny Dalglish’s answers to questions about a player not offering a fake handshake. A fake handshake Dalglish said he thought had been offered.

In what kind of world is someone like Patrick Barclay, with his thinly disguised views of Heysel and Hillsborough itching to come out with every spiteful word he says, tweets or writes, respected? And it’s not just Barclay, a man trying to make some money in the last days of his career. It’s a wide range of so-called respected writers who are stirring up trouble so fast that they can’t see their own hypocrisy through the dust they’ve sent flying. Respected writers patting each other on the back, a big circle of hypocrites who can’t praise each other enough for the fakery they’ve worked so hard to make fact. Respected writers?

It’s that word again. Respect. In football it has a completely different meaning to anywhere else.

Respect in football is fake.

Rafa Benítez put it best.

Football is a lie.



  • amer

    Fantastic read, 100% spot on.


    • pele

      I have to agree, a great read. Still don’t understand the extreme hatred towards Suarez, Dalglish and LFC.

      Another thing that’s fake are the multitudes condemning racism. I don’t believe for one moment that they are all free of racist thoughts, words and discriminatory acts. This is an opportunity for many to villify an individual and an institution. That’s not to say that Suarez and LFC couldn’t have handled the matter better.

  • Zahid

    I couldn’t have said anything as good as this myself, credit to you mate thanks for a good read.

  • tom

    good article. best read all day,and ive been reading all day too..we’ll get over this(sooner if the manc loving press give it a rest) YNWA KK long live the king

  • tony iyamah

    fake it is truely it is fake as MANU

  • Ellen

    What a wonderful piece of writing! This is football (or at least the circus around it) in a nutshell!

    Well done Jim, for a very astute piece!

  • As always Jim, quality work.

  • Kendo

    Spot on – will ferguson ever admit evra caused all this by starting the argument in the first place – or trot out the ‘why should he he’s done nothing wrong’ line again??

  • kevin Roche

    Well done Alex Ferguson, you really have to hand it to him, he has done it again, he has seen off yet another challanger. I don’t think in all honesty Kenny ever stood a chance against the wiley old prich though. Imagine, what started off with Ferguson lying to a referee has ended in the end for a LFC manager, and believe me it is the end for him. Kenny is the only one here who really cares about LFC. DC will already be eying the next job, while the owners are worried about their investment, none of them have a clue.

  • Claire

    I think a large problem is how misinformation and conspiratorial ideas are stoked by tribalism and partisan websites.
    I hope this comment is posted and you don’t only permit comments saying ‘wonderful work!’ and the like.

    As I’ve tried to comment before, it is misleading to suggest injustice by saying, of the initial incident, “there still isn’t enough evidence to be completely certain”. Because even a murder case doesn’t use that standard of proof. The charge is clearly proven to the standard of proof used by the commission. That is an important point.

    But I found it difficult to find anything cogent in your piece. Something about Blatter, then ticket prices, anthems, some writer and seemingly how it’s football’s fault because, like other similar sports, they have a handshake….
    But the issue is pretty clear by now I suppose.

  • It’s rare for me not to approve comments, whether I agree with them or not. I’m happy to discuss anything posted on here with anyone – as long as they’re reasonable and as long as I’ve got time and so on.

    Sometimes I even let comments through that I think, personally, the person passing comment would never say to me if we were sitting with a coffee or a pint talking about whatever story it is I’ve just written about.

    Sometimes I really can’t be bothered with that type of comment though. It doesn’t have to be a full-on foul-mouthed tirade for me to think it’s best not to publish it.

    This is a selection of comments that didn’t get published yesterday. In some cases I’m just posting the part of the comment that made me decide not to publish it.

    These were off one person:

    * What a load of rubbish.

    * well, as I disagreed with the author, my comment didn’t make it, despite that fact that it did not contain any insults, bad language etc. Nice work, typical scouser sweep it under the rug attitude. I know this comment won’t make it either, why would they , they also practice fake respect

    * Jim, you are a bit of a coward aren’t you?? Otherwise why would you not post my comments???

    Always wary of multiple question marks but that’s not why it wasn’t posted. “What a load of rubbish.” Why thank you, come in, carry on. Then you follow it up with “typical scouser” – sit down, have a beer. You get the idea.

    That kind of stuff comes in mixed in with wondrously intelligent attempts at debate like this:

    * What absolute bo*****s you Scouse muppet

    And this:

    * Stopped reading soon as I seen Manu you idiot defies your whole article moron

    Which means stuff like this:

    * You probably write too much. The charge was indisputably proven.

    Is best left for somewhere else. Try Red Issue, The Guardian, anywhere Martin Samuel is considered sane or MUTV. They’d love it, but there’s no audience for it or interest in it here.

    Same with this:

    * there will never be enough evidence for you will there??

    And also this:

    * He is a racist. Accept it.

    “Claire”, or whatever your name is, I don’t usually mind people disagreeing with what I write, or my opinions, because there’s nothing more annoying in football than people who think they’re right and never listen to the possibility they might not be. But if you don’t like the style of what I write, read something else.

    If you are going to come here and leave comments, you’ve also got to try harder to be genuine in what you write rather than twisting what you write to suit an agenda that shows little regard to the underlying issues in this whole saga.

    As for your comment about the standard of proof required for a murder case, a murder case – and cases of racism dealt with outside of football’s cosy little world – still need a much stronger standard of proof than the string of possiblies and maybes used in this case. The commission, using their tenuous reasons for credibility of one witness over another, might well have used the standard of proof required by the FA’s regulations. But that standard of proof isn’t enough. Just like it wouldn’t be if the standard of proof laid down by FA rules was based on the tossing of a coin to decide who wins a case. (Although Evra would probably claim to have won the toss anyway, if his own evidence is to be believed.)

    If you’d read the full report, and if you really cared about the right decision being reached for the good of ridding the game of racism, you’d not be posting your half-arsed criticism on here.

    Maybe it’s time everyone stopped blaming everyone else and looked at their own part in this mess. And time the trolls found something less serious to stir up.

    • Good comeback, Jim, and I don’t always agree with everything you write.
      I particularly like the extract ‘The charge was indisputably proven.’ Where does that come in relation to ‘balance of probabilities’ and ‘beyond reasonable doubt’? I suspect that the comment was posted by someone who did not read the commission’s full findings. It is typical of the ignorant postings on this and other sites from people who clearly have based their opinions on carefully selected extracts supplied by the various media outlets. I am still staggered how anybody who has read the report in full does not believe that Evra should have been charged/punished for his verbal abuse AND threats of physical violence. Apparently ‘negro’ carries a mugh higher tariff than effing and blinding, and threatening to ‘punch’ and ‘kick’ someone. Throw in at least two lies and you have a pretty good case. Ah, the integtity of the beautiful game.

  • Claire

    Thanks for replying Jim. Sorry to hear you say I twist what I write. I try to be boringly clear if anything to be honest.

    About the standard of proof though, it’s not “string of possibilities and maybes”, it’s the flexible civil standard of the balance of probability.
    My point was this is not unusual for such an organisation to use. It IS a stronger standard than could be used though, because it is flexible, that is, the more serious the allegation, taking into account the nature of the misconduct alleged and the context of the case, the greater the burden of evidence required to prove the matter.

    To Charlie B, the charge was indisputably proven for the standard of proof used. I don’t know to what you refer when you speak of 2 lies. But the reason Suarez was charged using rules E3(1) and (2) and Evra not was because of the racial aspect.

    That’s not trolling or abusive or anything. I’ve not been unfair or personal or offensive. If anything I’m pedantic, but that’s surely better than being misinformed.

    • Claire, you’ve been trolling elsewhere too, and you’ve been doing it using a selection of pseudonyms.

      Why anyone would do this and expect to be taken seriously is beyond me, Mr Anderson.

    • You are seriously having a laugh now. Indisputably proven for the standard of proof used. Absolute gobbledygook. Your command of the English language is obviously greater than mine if you think that indisputably proven is equivalent to ‘balance of probability’ and below, therefore, ‘ beyond reasonable doubt’. In my English, indisputably proven is proven beyond dispute which puts it way above reasonable doubt. Are you making thi up?

    • Where do I start on the lies. He told the referee , with the support of SAF, that Suarez called him ‘n***er’ when he knew full well that Suarez had used the Spanish word for black. He had already translated it on the pitch. He told the panel tha he was uncomfortable using the ‘n***er’ word. Liar. There is video of him using thie very word to describe Desailly, a Chelsea footballer at the time. He claimed in conversation with Suarez that the Liverpool player had kicked him. That is simply not true. That is the one incident which is absolutely clear on the match video; Suarez did not kick Evra.
      Evra told French TV that Suarez had used the’n word 10 times, whereas he told the referee that he had used it 5 times. That was a HALF truth. Anything else?

  • uruguayo

    Right on. “Plastic” respect is right.
    You can blame Suarez for a lot of things, but one thing you can not say is that he is a “plastic”.
    He told this piece of crap what he thinks of him by not shaking his hand.
    And by doing that he refused to enter into that “plastic” world that he and all the people he cares about abhor.
    He’s a simple guy, and he wears his heart on his sleeve. He is not a sphisticated guy but there is nothing fake about him.
    Take him or leave him.
    We Uruguayans take him, as he is, and we’ll back him to the hilt.

  • Daniel

    Excuse me for my poor english languaje.
    I think Suarez is very angry by this, in Uruguay which happen in the field, in the field stay. That is the most important “law” in football code. Evra broken that, then FA give Luis 8 match, that incredible!! Evra make xenofobic comment and he still play…¿¿??
    Suarez have to follow the protocol, and he will, but Evra has his hand down, then he make action with the cameras, puff, what a clow.
    I hope Suarez could clean his name, and show really what he is.

  • Dave Smark

    I am not a man U fan, but a Sunderland supporter with no axe to grind. I have always had a soft spot for Liverpool but have been saddened by the way in which your club has handled the whole Suarez – Evra business. The matter was investigated in huge detail by the panel. Suarez came out of it with no credit. Liverpool should have accepted the verdict. The club – and not only Suarez – should have apologised to Evra, and the rest of football would have admired them for it. It would have been forgotten by now and the club would have remained the favorite “other” club for millions of neutrals

  • Gerry

    How do you know that Ferguson hates Dalglish?
    It is your opinion not a fact.
    Comments like that add to the problem, it is a disgrace.

  • Hop

    Racism is unacceptable. If this business was just about racism everyone would have moved on long ago. Something was said, and only Suarez and Evra know the truth of that. But Mr F saw an opportunity to attempt to destabilize a player and the club he plays for – October being early in the season and LFC being bitter rivals and perhaps a threat. And boy did it pay off. The attempt has worked, maybe far better than even Mr F would have dared hope. Because Suarez has, perhaps naively, protested his innocence, and because Dalglish has, perhaps naively, stuck by him, the vilification has got so vocal that there are now serious question marks over both their LFC futures. And because football is a business LFC have now realized, perhaps belatedly, that they better side with popular opinion on this before any more damage is done. The truth is irrelevant, whatever the facts may be. LFC must move on, and be seen to be moving on, and stay out of the negative headlines. This case has proven one thing, perception really is reality.

  • riaz

    What happend to the handshake did after the FA match…
    I saw it in the TV.
    But nobody is not responding

  • Wideo

    Racism is unacceptable no matter who it is responsible

    Check out this thread, it’s quite enlightening as to who the real racist is,


    The last comment (number 93 at this time) is worth reading, as it gives info on how to have something done about this