As noted in this space earlier this week, the nature of Liverpool F.C.’s response to Luis Suárez’ 8 match ban for the racial abuse of Manchester United’s Patrice Evra last October has struck some as wildly inappropriate. That clumsy public statement, however, was a mere harbinger of what was to come Wednesday, when Liverpool’s players wore t-shirts depicting a grinning Suárez prior to their scoreless draw at Wigan. Speaking with the Guardian’s Andy Hunter, former Manchester United defender Paul McGrath suggests, “It would have been much better for Liverpool Football Club if they had have worn anti-racism shirts” (“maybe Kenny [Dalglish] is trying to make a statement to the FA but I just think it is in bad taste that he sent them out in those shirts.”
“It’s about respect. There’s this issue going on about respecting your opponents. It is actually a game. The game itself has gone too big, it’s about winning and the money. The actual element of football being a game has long since gone, it is all about protecting your interest, protecting your best players. There are a lot of children that watch these games and to have done what they did last night, doing their warm-up in T-shirts with his smiling face on it, having just been done for a supposedly racist comment to one of his opponents, is shameful for football. It puts the anti-racism campaign back to the beginning as far as I’m concerned.
“If I was in Glen Johnson’s situation, I’d have thrown the shirt to the floor. If that had been someone in my time and I’d heard the comments or I’d even suspected he was guilty – and obviously there has been a tribunal – then I would not wear a T-shirt with his name on it, saying all is well and good here.”