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Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011

Suarez banned over racist remarks to Evra


LONDON — Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was banned for eight matches and fined £40,000 ($62,000) on Tuesday after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United's black defender Patrice Evra.

News photo
Strong words: Liverpool's Luis Suarez (right) and Manchester United's Patrice Evra vie for the ball during their match on Oct. 15 at Anfield in Liverpool, England. The English F.A. banned Suarez for eight matches on Tuesday for racist comments made toward Evra during the match. AP

An English Football Association panel accepted Evra's allegation that Suarez directed a racial insult at him during United's Premier League match at Liverpool on Oct. 15.

"The insulting words used by Mr. Suarez included a reference to Mr. Evra's color," the F.A. said in a statement, adding that the Liverpool forward had also been warned about his future conduct.

Reacting to the verdict on his Twitter account, Suarez said: "Today is a very difficult and painful day for both me and my family. Thanks for all the support, I'll keep working!"

The panel's decision drew a furious response from Suarez's club.

"Very disappointed with today's verdict. This is the time when (Suarez) needs our full support," manager Kenny Dalglish said on his Twitter account, adding in reference the club anthem: "Let's not let him walk alone."

In a strongly worded statement, Liverpool said it was "very surprised and disappointed."

"It is our strong held belief, having gone over the facts of the case, that Luis Suarez did not commit any racist act," the club said.

"It appears to us that the F.A. were determined to bring charges against Luis Suarez, even before interviewing him at the beginning of November," the statement added. "Nothing we have heard in the course of the hearing has changed our view that Luis Suarez is innocent of the charges brought against him and we will provide Luis with whatever support he now needs to clear his name."

The American-owned club claimed that Evra stressed in his written statement to the F.A. that "I don't think that Luis Suarez is racist" and said the governing body echoed that sentiment in its opening statement at the hearing.

"We find it extraordinary that Luis can be found guilty on the word of Patrice Evra alone when no one else on the field of play — including Evra's own Manchester United teammates and all the match officials — heard the alleged conversation between the two players in a crowded Kop goalmouth while a corner kick was about to be taken," Liverpool said. "The club takes extremely seriously the fight against all forms of discrimination and has a long and successful track record in work relating to anti-racist activity and social inclusion. We remain committed to this ideal and equality for all, irrespective of a person's background."

Bolton edges Blackburn


BLACKBURN, ENGLAND — Bolton won 2-1 at Blackburn on Tuesday to move above its opponent at the bottom of the Premier League and heap more pressure on Rovers manager Steve Kean.

Blackburn fans jeered almost from the first whistle as Bolton took the lead in the fifth minute and was 2-0 up after half an hour.

Mark Davies and Nigel Reo-Coker scored for Bolton before Blackburn striker Ayegbeni Yakubu got a goal back in the 67th.

Blackburn will now spend Christmas at the foot of the table, a position from which only one side has avoided being relegated. That was West Bromwich Albion in 2005.

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