Why the FA's conclusion on Suarez case is anything but
Last night the FA announced it had reached a "conclusion" in the case of Luis Suarez and was fining the Liverpool striker £40,000 as well as banning him for eight games.
An Independent Regulatory Commission found that Suarez had used "insulting words" which included a reference to Manchester United full back Patrice Evra's colour.
There was little other detail other than that Liverpool had a right to appeal and 14 days in which to do so. The reasons or justification for this decision would be released in "due course" we were told.
Immediately all hell broke loose on Twitter with many Liverpool fans falling behind Suarez and crying injustice while Manchester United and other opposition supporters welcomed the ruling that, to them, clearly showed Suarez was a racist.
Reaction from journalists and casual observers was mixed, some were diplomatic, others believed it was a just ruling. I noticed one journalist describe Suarez as "a horrible little cheating racist" (personal views and all that of course)
Who knew that racism was such divisive issue in football? Are we not all united against racism or at least the vast, vast majority of the football community and society thinks racism is abhorrent? I certainly do.
For the record, I'm a Liverpool fan too but I'd like to think my condemnation of racism trumps my loyalties to the Reds as is the case for many of my fellow supporters. They have been described in various terms as apologists for a racist. But then as Liverpool FC later pointed out in their statement, both Evra and the FA indicated they did not believe Suarez to be a racist.
So why then is he convicted of racial abuse or "guilty" as the screaming headline of the Daily Mail back page read this morning?
If Suarez appeals and is successful or his ban reduced, is he not then a racist anymore or less of a racist because of that redution?
If in 2003, Reading's John Mackie admitted to racial abuse on the football field and was banned for eight games (five suspended) then shouldn't Suarez, who denied the charges, have been handed a much harsher punishment? Where's the consistency?
If Patrice Evra did, in the words of LFC, insult Suarez "in Spanish in the most objectionable of terms" then when is he going to be investigated?
If John Terry was today recommended for prosecution by the CPS for alleged racist remarks made to Anton Ferdinand why hasn't there been similar action taken against Suarez? Why hasn't Evra gone to the police?
So, so many questions, most of them posed prior to last night's announcement and none of them answered by this "conclusion".
The process has been deeply flawed. Some will argue that it is important to have taken the time that was taken to investigate this matter. Indeed I would not disagree with that, the charge is serious, the repercussions similarly serious.
But why did it take weeks for the FA to even come and speak to Suarez as Dalglish has previously pointed out and over two months to reach a conclusion?
In that period various details from a supposedly confidential investgation were leaked to the media. This, as we know, happens but that is a failure on the part of the FA and this regulatory commission and it contributed to the increasingly farcical nature of the whole affair.
In essence it became a trial by media and a thoroughly partisan issue between two clubs and their supporters who have an intense rivalry as it is.
In this case we had Evra and his history of race allegations - partly exaggerated - used against him and Suarez's history including THAT World Cup handball and the biting incident when he was at Ajax used against him.
Both players maintained their silence here but spoke to media in their home countries making allegations which we are none the wiser as to whether they are true or not.
Evra said Suarez could be seen saying "a certain word to me at least 10 times." While Suarez said: "I called him something his team-mates at Manchester call him, and even they were surprised by his reaction." Last night's verdict from the FA shed no light on who was telling the truth.
By not providing written reasons immediately the matter was essentially left to be judged by the media, the fans, and the general public - once again.
And this will continue through what is no doubt going to be a lengthy and fraught appeal process before we reach another "conclusion" that will, on the basis of what we have seen over the past 24 hours, leave people as divided as they are now on an issue that should be anything but.