Liverpool's Suarez banned 8 matches for remark
LONDON (AP) - Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was suspended for eight matches and fined $62,000 on Tuesday after being found guilty of directing a racial insult at Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, who is black.
An English Football Association panel decided that Evra's allegations from United's Premier League match at Liverpool on Oct. 15 had been proven.
"The insulting words used by Mr. Suarez included a reference to Mr. Evra's colour,'' the FA said in a statement, adding that Suarez had also been warned about his future conduct.
Suarez said on Twitter: "Today is a very difficult and painful day for both me and my family. Thanks for all the support, I'll keep working!...''
Liverpool, which had defended the player, said it was "very surprised and disappointed'' with the verdict against the Uruguay forward.
"It is our strong held belief, having gone over the facts of the case, that Luis Suarez did not commit any racist act,'' Liverpool said.
"It appears to us that the FA 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 emphasized in his written statement to the FA 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.''
The club noted that Suarez is "of a mixed race family background as his grandfather was black'' and has been involved since the 2010 World Cup in a charitable project that uses sport to encourage solidarity among people of different backgrounds.
"It seems incredible to us that a player of mixed heritage should be accused and found guilty in the way he has based on the evidence presented,'' Liverpool said. "We do not recognize the way in which Luis Suarez has been characterized.''
Liverpool tied the October match with United 1-1.
The FA said that the punishment was suspended, pending any appeal.
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