We wanted to talk about stuff that isn't Luis Suarez. We really, really did. But that didn't take into account one inescapable fact: Pretty much nobody is talking about Liverpool without also talking about Luis Suarez. So while the FA Cup draw against Oldham Athletic holds the potential for distraction on Friday, for now at least there's little to do but tie up a few more of the Suarez-related loose ends…
* Following news that Liverpool have accepted Luis Suarez' eight-match suspension, it has been reported that the group handing out Suarez' punishment in an attempt to show that racism has no place in the English game has continued to employ a man who admitted to sending racist emails using his business account. Peter Brown, who works with the Bedfordshire FA and is set to retire soon, publicly apologised for the largely ignored incident early in the fall and offered to retire immediately, but not only did the English FA choose not to take him up on that offer—they failed to take action against him in any way. There was no fine or suspension, and Brown is expected to see out his duties until later in the year when he would have retired even if racist emails sent by him had not come to light.
Given that it would appear the rules for what is and is not acceptable are different for those who the FA might consider one of their own, the eventual fate of John Terry—who remains England's captain despite video evidence he used racist language as defined by the English FA and is currently undergoing court proceedings that prevent the FA from handing out any kind of fine or suspension—will be a major litmus test. Both the media and FA will now be faced with deciding if all the recent talk of enlightenment and equality is genuine or if instead all their high-minded noise can again be easily set aside when the accused isn't an outsider. And the early signs aren't good for high-minded.
* As part of Liverpool walking things back from last week's talk of fighting on the beaches, on the landing grounds, in the fields and in the streets, whatever the cost may be, Luis Suarez has followed up recent official statements with a brief not-quite-apology:
I admitted to the commission that I said a word in Spanish once, and only once. I never, ever used this word in a derogatory way and if it offends anyone then I want to apologise for that. I told the panel members that I will not use it again on a football pitch in England.
Which, of course, isn't quite the same thing as a clear-cut apology for using the word in the first place, though of course by all accounts Suarez remains convinced that he didn't actually say anything wrong—or at least that he didn't say anything that was racist as far as he's concerned. The club's press release in the wake of the initial ruling may have embarrassingly played the "black friends" card, but regardless of that cringe-worthy misstep it's not entirely unreasonable to speculate that a quarter-black player caught up in the whirlwind of the past few months, having grown up in a culture lacking England's specific racially charged history from its role in the Atlantic slave trade through to this week's conviction of two men for a murder in 1993 where institutional racism played a role in an initial failure of justice, might still be coming to grips with the idea that people and papers around the country are baying for his blood for having said a phrase that at worst might have still seemed to him far less inflammatory than what Patrice Evra said during their exchange. He's now said a kind of sorry, then—an almost sorry—likely in the hopes of getting the press off his back, and perhaps at the urging of the club. Whether it works or simply leads to more attacks for not being quite the apology most would have been demanding remains to be seen, and the same could likely be said for the club as a whole concerning their recent about-face.
* Along with further news from Suarez and about the FA trickling out since yesterday, there has been discussion of just what Kenny Dalglish was hinting at when he said that there were things he and Liverpool would have liked to talk about but couldn't in regards to the case following the Manchester City match on Tuesday. One of his most teasing lines suggested that despite the 115-page length of the document released by the FA to support the Suarez decision, there were important pieces of information—or at least pieces of information considered important by Liverpool—that had been left out.
That is believed to refer to Liverpool's contention that Evra was guided through his witness statements by the FA while being allowed to watch footage of his confrontation with Suárez. The United defender did not, for example, recall being pinched by Suárez until after a review of the incident and that action formed a large part of the case against the Uruguayan.
The Liverpool striker's request to study the same footage while submitting his statement, his club alleges, was refused. Suárez was subsequently described as giving "unreliable" and "inconsistent" evidence by the commission while Evra changed his initial allegation of being labelled a "nigger" by Suárez 10 times, and was deemed a credible witness.
If this is in fact the case, it's doubtful that any Liverpool fans will actually be surprised. It's also doubtful that any of the places that have called Suarez a racist in 64-point font on their back page will especially care, given that as it stands the FA's report already at least took pains to distance themselves from dubbing Suarez an outright racist and that didn't get in the way of a few good inflammatory headlines.
Right, so that's it for Suarez. I swear I can stop talking about him any time I want. I mean, with Oldham on Friday, the transfer window opening, and Andy Carroll's continuing development/lack of development as a Liverpool striker all likely to provide fodder in the coming week—well, it's not like there'll be a shortage of things to talk about. In the meantime, then, before we inevitably spend the next seven days talking about nothing but Luis Suarez…