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Racism Now

order serif; font-size: small;”>In the aftermath of last week’s characteristically intense encounter between Liverpool and Manchester United, cialis few people were discussing the football itself. That was partly because the football on offer wasn’t frankly that interesting. A tie between England’s two historically most successful sides is normally a more exciting affair, pharm but a defensive selection from Sir Alex Ferguson cancelled out Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool, with the end result being 1-1 – a Steven Gerrard free kick for the home side, and a Javier Hernandez header for the visitors.

Unfortunately controversy took centre stage on the following day’s back pages. Speaking to French TV channel Canal Plus after the game, United’s Patrice Evra declared that he had been subject to racist abuse from Liverpool’s Uruguayan striker Suarez. “He tried to get me to crack, we have video, there are cameras everywhere and you can very well see on his lips the word he says to me more than 10 times,” said the Frenchman.

The revelation was disturbing in itself, but even more so when you realise that the match was used as a showcase for the anti-discrimination ‘Kick It Out’ campaign, and both teams’ players wore t-shirts promoting the initiative during the warm up. Racism in football has existed for decades, and is still particularly rife among supporters in the likes of Spain and Italy, with Samuel Eto’o, Thierry Henry, Mario Balotelli and Marcelo all notable victims in recent years. But even in the Premier League, where 66 countries are represented by foreign players, racism seems an indestructible scourge. During his playing career, John Barnes was repeatedly pelted with bananas by fans, while just last year Blackpool’s Jason Euell was racially harassed by a Stoke supporter.

The FA have pledged to seriously investigate Evra’s claims, but with no footage to back up his suggestion that Suarez repeated the same racist remark ’10 times’ having emerged as of yet, it will be difficult to come to a conclusive conclusion. In the circumstances, it appears only the players involved will know what really happened.

But this particular case is rather unusual. At a time when football has achieved media saturation, it would seem farfetched that no camera, microphone, or spectator would pick up on any racist behaviour and report it to the nearest official, broadcaster, journalist or even their Twitter timelines. Perhaps Evra made life hard for himself when he stressed that Suarez’s indecency had been continuous, and that the viewing public would have seen it occur. We haven’t, and that’s concerning.

In any case, he’s been treated with a high degree of scepticism by the media. Why, for example, did the referee only learn of the incidents after the match? An imagined tendancy to ‘play the race card’ has also been cited by the English press due to two previous incidents, one involving Steve Finnan and another regarding a bust-up with a Chelsea groundsman, but on the contrary, this is the first time Evra has brought a claim himself. But it’s all too easy for the press to speculate on what will happen to the accused – it’s the fate of the victim that can fill column inches.

This is not the last racism row we’ll see, but in future will the accuser suffer the same doubts and incredulity Evra has? Will victims of racism report their abuse, or keep it to themselves for fear of being disbelieved, or labelled a liar? Being falsely accused of racism surely isn’t as bad as being a victim of racism. At the same time, isn’t maliciously labelling someone a racist undermining the very issue?

Sadly, we’ll probably never learn the answers to these questions. Suarez will probably be acquitted on the basis of a lack of evidence, and lingering suspicions about either player’s character will remain unanswered. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the most likely result to all of this is that there will be no result at all.

Amy Eustace 

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