Soccer Magazine

Rivalry Runs Riot

By Bella_blogger @Bella_Blogger
Having been a Manchester United fan all of my nearly 21 year old life, i can safely say that the game yesterday, 11th February 2012, between the two Red and Whites of the North was one of the most shocking I've seen in terms of unrelated football incidents.
I think its a very sad day when the two titans of football, United and Liverpool, clash in a live Premier League tie - and yet the football to come is not involved in the pre-match chit chat. 'Will he or won't he' was the question flying around pre-match, relating to whether Evra, the victim of racial abuse at the hands of Luis Suarez, would shake hands with his abuser. I personally felt that if i had been racially abused, and never received a formal apology, i would not shake hands with the person who can only be deemed as a racist through his lack of remorse and insistence that he is not at fault for what he has done and said.
There are so many issues that have further exacerbated this intense rivalry that it is hard where to start. However as i said i find it disgusting that Suarez has not apologised to Evra and has not acknowledged the fact that he was wrong for what he said. Like i discussed in a previous blog, it is mind blowing that he has admitted to the offense and been punished and yet insists he had done nothing to warrant that punishment. This incident occurred just days before Anton Ferdinand, brother of United legend Rio Ferdinand, accused Chelsea's John Terry of racially abusing him of the pitch. However the incidents differ in that Suarez ultimately believed he was innocent by the fact that he does not regard what he said as wrong and stands by the view he should not have been punished. Yet Terry believes he is innocent because he claims he did not say anything racist. This different between what essentially defines being innocent in light of the conviction of being a racist is massively important. Obviously i will not comment on the Terry incident as he has had no trial and therefore he is neither guilty nor innocent until this is ruled upon by a judge. However Suarez's mentality in this instance and his lack of apology to me would seem to obliterate his persistent claims hes not a racist, and formally paint him as one as he does not deem his racist behaviour, racist. Surely if you had been unaware that such a disgusting word was racist in English society, you would be profusely apologetic about your actions as they were rash as well as uninformed, and you did not want to cause any offense or upset. Yet Suarez has done completely the opposite, and despite the fact i admired his footballing talents (which are now sadly but perhaps necessarily being overshadowed by his unsportmanship conduct) and indeed he had a place in my fantasy football, i believe that he should no longer be able to play in English football, if he cannot abide by the rules. Not only did his display disgrace his self, his football club and his manager, i believe it demonstrated a blatant refusal to follow the rules of not only English Society, but EPL as nobody has ever or should ever (before the recent racism issues popped up) refused to shake a hand, and therefore disrupted the game and put two fingers up at the formality which has run for twenty years without a problem
I also found it hard to believe that the FA were enforcing the hand shake, and would not remove the premier league formality like they had done in the similar instance regarding John Terry and Anton Ferdinand. I do not see how they could not have followed suit from that match, which went ahead with both the accused and the accuser on the pitch, and played a fine football match with no incidents. I thought that this decision probably boiled down to the fact that Terry has not yet had a trial, and so it is essentially an unresolved issue. However, just because Suarez has been found guilty, punished and now eligible once again to play, without remorse or apology on behalf of Suarez to Evra, how can the issue have been resolved?  I understand some peoples' views that it is almost petty not to shake someone's hand, but with an issue as big as racism seemingly reemerging in the sport this country so adore, i think that perhaps it should be overlooked. In society if you did not like someone or they had massively wronged you, you would not like to be forced into social pleasantries with them, so why should footballers? But then again i understand the other side of the coin, which discusses if you scrap a handshake for one match, or one incident, where do the boundaries lie? Surely lots of footballers don't like each other, but does that mean they shouldn't shake hands? 
The display of football however, was something that cannot be overlooked; drama, wildly fast paced play, feisty tackles and dramatic goals - a typical rivalry match. Even if i wasn't a Manchester United fan i would still say they played absolutely sensationally, and that there should have been more than one goal as proof of the difference between the two teams on the day. United were all over their rivals and Liverpool struggled to keep up with the pace, and to get any meaningful possession. This could not have been clearer as Suarez had a tantrum at half time and kicked the ball into the stands - as if he hadn't already embarrassed himself enough. However even though the fans all love the rivalry, and there is nothing wrong with some banter and harmless taunts, the rivalry boiled over at the half time whistle, with tempers flaring to the max. There could be only one outcome: a fight. Unfortunately cameras are not allowed to follow the players down the tunnel and so we won't know what precisely happened; but we did see the players clash on their way down the tunnel and were alerted that the police had to be called upon twice to stifle out-of-control tempers.
My shock and entertainment continued post match also, as Dalglish went on to embarrass himself in an emotional somewhat hysteric interview.  His emotions weren't the only talking point after he scurried away from the interviewer; it was his shocking persistent support of Luis Suarez. I think Dalglish's emotions were running high because a player he had previously publicly talked of fully backing and supporting, had backed him into a corner with an immature display during the game - could he really concede on live TV after losing a game to his biggest rivals that all his spiel about how Suarez was innocent and wrongly punished was actually undone right in front of his face? No I don't think so. Despite the fact i am not Dalglish's biggest fan (or his fan in any sense) i did feel a smidgen of sympathy as obviously he had no idea Suarez had planned to shun Evra, but i think lying about the fact he 'didn't know' Suarez had done that when the managers were on the side lines and the referee had to interfere - how can you miss such a ruckus right in front of your eyes? It made him look like a small insignificant man; his display made him out to look as though he were losing it slightly as he let loose on the interviewer and tried to escape form the harsh light of reality as the public's' eyes were focused on him and he failed to deliver a rational interview.  I think this will definitely come back to bite Dalglish on the ass - he is manager of one of the most famous and successful clubs in the world and yet he is backing a man that looks suspiciously indeed as if he is a racist? I don't understand it. Furthermore, how are either arguably Liverpool's current best player and manager helping their situation as surely by taking this stance they are alienating black team mates and their black fans?
Whats to be said of all this in terms of United, is at the end of the day i am further given reason why i love this team so much and reminded why my loyalty is unwavering; as Ferguson rightly said, Dalglish' pre match comments referring to his belief that Suarez should never have been banned are absolutely disgraceful and he had no reason to state such controversial views days before Suarez would face Evra - surely he knew that the already raucous rivalry between the two would be set on fire with such a sparking comment as that. I am also very proud of Evra who undeniably did offer his hand despite Liverpool players' futile comments that he pulled his hand away (with so many cameras, i believe around 45, aimed at the incident there is visual undeniable footage that he offered his hand), for the perpetrator not to accept was disgusting as surely if anyone was not to shake his hand it should of been the victim? I am also glad Ferdinand rebuked Suarez's attempt to shake his hand as in my opinion he is not worthy of shaking any of United's hands, especially if he isn't doing so because they are of another race. Impartially, do i think Evra should have celebrated right under Suarez's nose? No. Was it entertaining and comical? Yes. But it could have sparked an even larger fight and that's not what we want - we want professionalism and good football, not warring footballers. Although i can see why he did it - to embarrass Suarez like he had embarrassed him.
In relation to Ferguson's post match comments, although delivered dramatically and perhaps too strong a sense of words, i agree with the sentiment. I don't want to see a foreign player come over to my country and disgrace one of the best leagues in the world. I don't want to see him on TV playing English football, and i sure don't want to see him back at Old Trafford if he is racist to the EPL players and blatantly disregarding the rules. Yes i can understand why it looks dramatic to some neutral people - it is not about the handshake, it is about the bigger issue: why did he not shake his hand, was it because he was black? If so he should definitely not play again and Liverpool should not sing his praises or stand by someone that is going to ruin their club's fantastic achievements and reputation. When we all tuned in yesterday we wanted to see sensational football sparked by the desire to beat the other team so that the fans can celebrate and taunt each other over their win. We did not want to see racism run riot over the rivalry

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