Patrice Evra is being more than a touch disingenuous when he accuses Luis Suarez of hurling racial epithets at him during Saturday's match at Anfield, as to even broach the subject of such abuse on the pitch with the press is to make a huge deal out of it, intentionally or not—and to genuinely think otherwise would be a quite nearly unbelievable display of gross naivety from a man who will have been coached over the years in how to deal with the press as part of his job.
And just as obviously, if the truth matches what Evra claims—namely that Suarez said something rather nasty repeatedly, within earshot of the referee, and in full sight of the cameras—then it deserves to be made a big deal of.
At least in this case, though, it would seem that there should be definitive, conclusive evidence as to whether Suarez indeed said or did anything wrong. When accusations such as this arise, they can at times lead to frustratingly inconclusive endings that come down to which player one finds more believable, yet Evra says the word or words were repeated at least ten times in one of the biggest matches of the season while dozens of cameras focused on the action. Moreover he claims that they were heard by officials. This isn't the case of a single muttered epithet obscured from the cameras, whispered into an opponent's ear.
Quite clearly here, if there's no solid proof that Suarez indeed said these things, then he can categorically be said to have not said these things. If he is proven to have hurled racial abuse at Evra, though, then it will of course be hugely disappointing, regardless of whether Evra's ongoing histrionics, his repeated demands the referee hand out yellow cards for simulation before himself flopping around as though he'd been shot with an elephant gun, justified some level of annoyance in Liverpool's players.
The truth—whatever it is—seems likely to win out in the end, but in the meantime, as unsavoury as the possibility that Suarez may have hurled racial abuse at Evra is, it also cannot be completely ignored that Patrice Evra has more than any other Premier League player found himself involved in charges of such abuse. And to date at least they have tended to paint a worse picture of Evra than they have of those claimed to have crossed a line in their comments to the French international:
In 2006, a pair of deaf Manchester United fans claimed to have lip-read Liverpool's Steve Finnan targeting Evra with racial abuse. Evra himself would neither confirm nor deny these claims, which led to the case being investigated by the Manchester police who in the end dismissed it as pure nonsense with no grounding in reality. He also rather famously talked before World Cup 2010 about being the target of racist chants from Senegalese supporters who resented him choosing to play for France instead of the nation of his birth, claiming he had been targeted as a "monkey who grovels before the white man." The idea of black supporters targeting a black player for abuse by calling him a monkey seems, at least on the surface, to be rather surreal and more than a touch ridiculous, and in the end no evidence of such chanting was ever found.
The best documented case of Evra and racial abuse, however, comes from 2008, when Manchester United accused a Chelsea groundsman of such in an attempt to have Evra's four match ban for physically confronting said groundsman overturned. In the end their challenge would be labeled "inconsistent and unreliable," the groundsman would be cleared, and Evra's four match ban and £15,000 fine would be upheld.
As for Suarez and the case at hand, he categorically denies having said anything wrong and is reportedly very upset about the accusations. Meanwhile, the FA is investigating and has released a statement saying that, "Andre Marriner was made aware of the allegation at the end of the fixture and has subsequently reported this to the FA." One does have to wonder why, if referee Andre Marriner heard these repeated epithets as Evra claims, he would need to be made aware of the allegations post-match. One would also have to wonder why it was Evra and not Suarez that Marriner chose to show yellow to during the match.
Perhaps, though, it will come out that despite these seeming inconsistencies already appearing in Evra's story, Marriner in fact did hear Suarez issuing racial abuse. And perhaps too one of the dozens of cameras following the match, not to mention the pitch-side microphones, will have picked up the alleged comments. If neither happens, however, one would hope that Patrice Evra will be held to the same standard of discipline as Suarez assuredly—and rightly—will be should there end up being proof of him doing wrong.