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The Football Association have found Luis Suarez guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra and have handed down an 8 match ban as punishment. The player and the club have accepted this in so far, as they are not appealing. That theoretically should be the end of the matter, but the unholy stink caused by the whole unfortunate affair lingers on.

I don’t want to go into a ‘who said what and when’ or what any particular word means in any given cultural context type debate, as the evidence is freely available and the verdict has been passed. There are plenty of examples that shows that Suarez is not especially adept at showing good judgement, remember the distasteful celebrations after his handball went a long way to knocking Ghana out of the last World Cup? Even exercising any basic self control has been beyond him in the past, watch this quite extraordinary clip from his time playing for Ajax in the Eredivisie.

I think it is fair to say that, given the sensitivity of the matter, most clubs and the majority of fans would have taken an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ type of approach, there was no need for condemnation or active support. The player could have kept on playing until the verdict was passed and the club could have dead batted away any questions until then. However you got the feeling from the beginning that LFC were going to go to war for the wrong guy, on the wrong issue and boy did they go to war.

 The question becomes: Why were the club so vehement in their support for Suarez? The ever more irrational and unbalanced club statements, the whole embarrassing t-shirt affair, what exactly were LFC thinking? And even after the sentence has been passed and the punishments accepted it still goes on.  In his post match interview after the Man City game Kenny Dalglish hints at dark conspiracies,

“There are a lot of things we’d like to say and a lot of things we could say but we don’t want to get ourselves into trouble. We know what has gone on. We know what is not in the report and that is important for us. It is unfortunate that you don’t actually know the whole content of what went on at the hearing. I cannot go any further.”

In addition to this, the statements from LFC and Suarez after they have accepted the FA decision are the most self serving nonsense and really amount to saying that we will nobly accept this injustice for the greater good. This is laughable as they have done almost the exact opposite, their actions have muddied the waters around a societal issue that is greater than football.

I understand very well that since the Hillsborough Disaster in 1989 LFC and its fans have deep seated grievances against the football authorities and the police. However since then they have become masters at using any perceived slight to fuel their belief that the rest of the world must be against them. Before any evidence was gathered, weighed or judged they knew that Suarez was innocent because everyone else hates them and is out to get them. In essence they have become Institutionally Paranoid and because of this they are simply incapable of condemning one of their own even when it is right to do so.

There is of course a huge vicious cycle element at play here,

  1. LFC and its fans react to some imagined or very mild slight
  2. Others become irritated as what they see as an over reaction
  3. LFC and its fans see this as evidence that others hate them
  4. Others really do start to hate LFC and its fans

I do not think that there are any conspiracies going on here and that the Suarez case represents a persecution complex rather than any actual persecution. To my mind LFC and some of its fans show a decreasing ability to engage in rational debate. This fundamentalism, for want of a better word, alienates those who would normally be willing to listen to both sides of the argument. A club as huge and as important as Liverpool needs to be bigger than this and break out it’s bunker mentality.

by Nilesh Bhagat