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. 

Their response:

From: Info
Date: 6 January 2012 15:15
Subject: RE: Feedback from

Dear Jim

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.

Kind regards

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.



  • Mark

    Great Article Jim,

  • Don

    Pity the FA didn’t also address the question of why Evra was interviewed whilst viewing the video clips, ie coached. In light of them addressing questions which weren’t asKed, it would appear that they have a standard stock response for all who correspond with them in this regard.

  • Keep up the good work!
    Just a few words on the ‘son of a bitch’ translation:
    Italians (I’ve lived in Italy for 20 yrs) use the phrase ‘vai in figa di tua madre’
    (sometimes shortened to ‘vai in figa’ or ‘figa di tua madre’).
    Word for word, (the WRONG way to translate!) the full phrase means ‘Go in your mother’s c***’ but the correct translation would be ‘Go f*** your mother’ and, I suppose, the most logical equivelent is ‘You motherf***er’.
    Very commonly used here, but as strong and insulting in Italian as it is English.
    It’s seems evident to me that Evra’s equally strong insult was ‘You sisterf***er’

  • john

    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.

    Law 12 says under the heading sending off offences
    ‘Using offensive,insulting or abusive language and /or gestures.

    Yet this whole case was based on somebody using a phrase thats not insulting in his home country and isnt considered a direct insult either.
    Lets have some consistency eh.

    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;

    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.

    So what was this language that was said over and over again?
    You allege whatever it was said was said 7 times yet Mr Suarez says he used it once,Mr Evra 5 times and Mr Ferguson 10 times. How did you work that one out?

  • Ray Anthony Charles

    There was distinct bias on how the independant panel adjudicated on this issue. All I can say is that I’m patiently awaiting their decision on John Terry’s case. There must be some form of standardization on how these cases are adjudicated. It seems apparent that the F.A were only keen on exploring what punishment could have been handed out to suarez. Now I understand that since Suarez was under England’s jurisdication that their laws would be used to analyze this matter. I firmly believe however that some consideration should have been given since he is of a different culture and society. I didn’t agree with Suarez behaviour being a LFC supporter, but I think that the F.A wasn’t fair when one looks at the entire picture!

  • Joe

    Well done Jim. The whole thing is looking very sad now. I felt at the time LFC were wrong not to appeal & show intention to take it as far as was possible legally. I just hope England, the FA & their glorious supporters, and their sometimes racist media can live up to the high standards they all feel that they have set for themselves. They European championships are coming, FIFA and Mr Blatter will be waiting – lets hope the good old Englanders provide and example to us all.

  • Joe

    Forgive me if I’ve missed this point but, on the balance of probability, would Evra ever use “concha de tu hermana” as an exclamation? He’s not Spanish, is he? If anything, he’d make the equivalent exclamation in French.

    • Jose

      Very good observation,
      Evra set up all the confrontation in spanish or even uruguayan culture. I´m sorry but not in English culture. So all what was said (mainly in spanish) should be judged in uruguayan culture. And please respect other cultures. Sarkowsy is now in Uruguay spending his vacations in Punta del Este. If he said “la merde” in french to another frenchman we could not judge his words within uruguayan culture rules.

  • Joe

    Please take the time to read this little snippet from a that hypocrite MR HOLT written only last Sept

    “I loved standing on the terraces of the Stretford End and the Kippax in the 1970s and Eighties.

    I loved it for the anonymity you got from being part of the crowd.

    I loved it for the ­opportunity to become lost in the ­tribalism of the occasion.

    And to behave in the kind of unfettered way that wouldn’t be possible outside the stadium.

    I did my share of hating and yelling. That was part of the fun.

    But I still recoiled when I saw the picture on the back page of this paper on Monday morning.

    It was a beautiful portrait of an ugly scene, a man kneeling in despair and a crowd taunting and baiting him.

    Some of the supporters looked as if they were figures plucked from Goya’s Pinturas Negras.

    Mouths agape, fingers pointing, hands ­gesticulating, faces contorted with dark joy at another man’s misery.

    I mentioned this to some people yesterday and they told me I was being precious.

    They told me I didn’t understand the game, that I had led a ­sheltered life or I was just plain anti-Manchester United.

    Kevin Garside, a ­brilliant writer who used to work for this paper, just said simply: “Football makes monsters of us all.”

    Well, for a start, this is not about United fans.

    The picture on the Mirror’s back page could have been taken at any ground on any given Saturday or Sunday.

    And precious? Well, maybe. This was a football match. I know that. Torres used to play for Liverpool so I understand the deep enmity.

    It was a spectacular miss, too. Agreed. Something very much out of the ordinary. Something to astonish all who saw it.

    And I have also heard that Torres wound up the United fans at the Stretford End during his earlier goal celebration.

    I get all that. But I still recoil from that photograph and what it tells us about the society we live in.

    Forgive me for my naivety but my idea of being a ­football supporter is to take pleasure in the things my team does well. Get angry with the opposition, sure, if they foul one of your players or get into a scrap. Boo and jeer them all you want.

    Bait them with chanting, too. That’s part of the ­tribalism of the game. Part of its dynamic and part of its rhythm.

    I don’t want the ­experience of going to a game sanitised any more than it’s already been sanitised, believe me.

    But we live in a time now where it seems there is more pleasure to be gained from another man’s misfortune than from your own team’s achievements.

    It’s the X Factor mentality. It’s when an audience derives its pleasure more from failure than ­achievement. It’s a time when anger and jealousy and resentment spew to the surface at the merest excuse.

    It’s when comedians like Jason Manford get big laughs from encouraging fans to abuse players because they earn a lot of money.

    I don’t get that, not when general chanting spills over into vile personal insults screamed into a player’s face.

    And if a player ever has the temerity to turn around and reply in kind, the fans often go running to the police and report them for their language.

    I remember it happening a while back to Mark Bosnich at Goodison Park, who had been subjected to taunts throughout the game.

    And all of us can see the horrific abuse players have to suffer if they have a Twitter account.

    There is outrage when they retaliate. When Danny Gabbidon snapped and let fly at West Ham fans on the social networking site, he was hit with an improper conduct charge.

  • Jose

    All this story started with “La concha de tu hermana” (your sisters pussy) admitted by Evra and pronounced in Spanish. This is mainly an insult used in Argentina and Uruguay. It could be used in other countries but there is an important difference: the world “concha” is synonymous of “pussy” in these two countries. In ALL other Spanish speaking language the world is used for “shell” so the insult is absolutely different. As another example, the word “cojer” is “fuck” in Argentina and Uruguay while it means “holding” in any other country. That´s so embedded in colloquial speaking that in Argentina they use the word “agarrar” to mean “hold”.
    So Evra knows the difference of impact of using this insult to Suarez as compared to any other Spanish speaking player.

    Using this insult changes all what happened afterwards. Evra was inducing end indeed changed the cultural rules of the discussion to Suarez culture. It is what experts (of course there was nobody knowing this in the expert commission team) name “Change of Sociological Context”.

    So the argument that this happened in England still stands but as the commission did, and was accurately, to enter deeply in cultural topics. But they do it poorly and with incredible flaws. The most significant is the discussion is about “tu eres negro” or “vos sos negro”. They mention Montevideo way of speaking, omitting (I think because of lack of expertise) that Suarez is no from Montevideo, but from Salto where this terms are interchanged.

    On the other hand nobody takes into account the social and cultural background of Suarez. He could never said “porque tu eres negro”. It´s like if an uncultured English speaking person said “Mr. Evra, you seldom dive, but I …… whatsoever”.

    Summarizing, it was a good decision made by the commission to discuss in terms of culture because Evra intentionally or by chance set up all confrontation in a different than English culture. The mistake was that the Speaking Languaje Experts were not at level. Another example is “tues negro” that they do not even mention that is not Spanish. That phrase does not mean anything in Spanish and the made a strong argumentation based on it!!!!!!! Worse, they even tranlated it!!!!

    In all the report it seems that the only expert in Spanish language and even local slang language use is Mr. Evra.

    I know, from my own experience (I lived 4 years in Spain, 1 in France and 2 in Thailand) that understanding a different culture is difficult, takes time and sometimes requires help. But deciding to put a man in the guillotine of the press and the public opinion requires to be much more professional. This smells like the inquisition not a process in England in the XXI century.

    Last but not least to show the lack of expertise of the so called “language experts” they do not mention the “Real Academia Española” that is the highest authority, in Spanish Language and its dictionary is accessible via web site Anyone and everywhere when dealing with a Spanish issue knows the RAE and uses it as the main source of information.

    I agree with Suarez and Liverpool that all this process hasn´t any level of seriousness and you cannot say sorry based on their argumentation.


  • Carlos

    If you say ‘concha de su hermana’ in third person, it could be interpreted as an vulgar expression, like yelling ‘mother f*cker’.

    But in this case it was in second person, ‘concha de TU hermana’, which is an insult directed to the person to which you are talking, kind of ‘you are a mother f*cker’, or more accurately ‘your sister’s c*nt’.

  • GrkStav

    I received the identical stock response to my own e-mail asking for a formal investigation of Evra for having breached, by his own testimony, rule E3 (1).

    According to the FA, when Evra said “Conche de tu hermana” to Suarez, he was merely ‘exclaiming’ and not ‘insulting’. They maintain that this is the case given that they take it as a matter of fact that Evra had been the victim of repeated racial insult/abuse by Suarez earlier.

    This is the same FA (and its Commission) that concluded that Suarez’s placing of his hand on the back of Evra’s head was actually an attempt to wind him up whilst appearing to be engaging in conciliatory behavior.

    Saddam Hussein’s spokesperson during the Gulf War would be proud of them.