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â€˘ Liverpool Black Leadership Forum writes to Kenny Dalglish
â€˘ The club ‘presided over worst racism incident in recent years’
Liverpool have been accused of critically undermining “efforts to combat racism in football and the wider society in general” with their handling of the Luis SuĂˇrez controversy and asked to issue an unreserved apology to Patrice Evra by a prominent group of black leaders.
In an open letter delivered to the club and the manager, Kenny Dalglish, signed by local and national black leaders plus several anti-racism organisations, Liverpool are fiercely criticised for contesting the findings of an independent tribunal appointed by the Football Association which led to SuĂˇrez receiving an eight-match ban for racially abusing the Manchester United defender.
Though SuĂˇrez apologised for using the word “negro” in his confrontation with Evra at Anfield last October and for refusing to shake the France international’s hand at Old Trafford recently, when Dalglish also apologised for his post-match television interview with Sky’s Geoff Shreeves, the letter calls on the club and the striker to apologise directly to Evra.
The letter says: “LFC actions, in vehemently rejecting the findings of the FA inquiry, their public displays of support for a player found guilty of racist abuse and his subsequent refusal to shake the hand of Evra at a recent game is completely unacceptable. These actions we believe could be considered as inciting racial intolerance.
“Whilst the subsequent apologies for the failure to engage with the traditions of a pre-game ‘hand shake’ are to be welcomed, there remains deep concern about LFC’s absolute refusal to accept the findings of the FA’s investigation. As such these apologies fail to meet the test of genuine remorse and understanding. This is further negated by LFC’s failure to apologise for racism either through the club or SuĂˇrez.
“Neither have LFC recognised or acknowledged the consequent damage to race relations resulting from their actions and recognised by many people of all races across the country. As a result efforts to combat racism in football and the wider society in general have been critically undermined.
“Compounding these serious errors is the failures of Liverpool’s civic leaders, many of whom have remained silent on these critical issues and have failed to publicly condemn LFC’s decision not to robustly and effectively challenge racism.”
The open letter is signed by members of the Liverpool Black Leadership Forum, Merseyside TUC, North West United Against Facism, the Society of Black Lawyers and the National Black Police Association, among others.
Gloria Hyatt MBE, of the Liverpool Black Leadership Forum, said: “Liverpool Football Club has presided over the worst incident of racism in football seen in recent years. Their misguided handling of SuĂˇrez/Evra has let down all of those in the city who worked hard to challenge racism and make Liverpool a better place to live for everyone.”
Lee Jasper, a human rights and race equality campaigner, said: “The club, including the owners, the players and the manager, need to realise the enormous damage caused by their reluctance and obdurate behaviour. Kenny Dalglish used to manage Celtic; he ought to know the importance of stamping out bigotry. The club failed the city, the nation as a whole and in particular Britain’s black communities. Their abysmal lack of leadership on this issue has given a green light to racism. They must make urgent repetitions and make a clear and unequivocal apology.”