Suarez accepts ban

Liverpool have agreed, albeit exceedingly reluctantly, to accept the 8-match ban handed out to Luis Suarez for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.

The club has come in for considerable criticism for its initial response to the ban and yesterday’s decision not to appeal against it, offered a belated chance to make amends for their earlier inopportune remarks.

However, the Anfield club decided to eschew conventional wisdom and a chance of conciliation, by launching a scathing attack on the Football Association (FA).

“It is our strongly held conviction that the Football Association and the panel it selected constructed a highly subjective case against Luis Suárez based on an accusation that was ­ultimately unsubstantiated,” the club said.

“In its determination to prove its conclusions to the public through a clearly subjective 115-page document, the FA panel has damaged the reputation of one of the Premier League’s best players, deciding he should be punished and banned for perhaps a quarter of a season.”

There’s more of it, but the gist is that Suarez has been hard done by, Evra was an unreliable witness and bizarrely, American sports were racist last century. Seriously.

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish, who is beginning to show the strains of spending too much time near the eye of the storm, claimed that Suarez had not been given a fair trial and hinted that shady forces were at work. Forces so shady that he couldn’t reveal what they were for fear of getting the club into even more trouble. That’s some serious shady we’re talking about.

Here’s the transcript of his press conference.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word

The Liverpool PR machine must have come close to breakdown last night, as no sooner had the club’s statement come out than Suarez himself issued one explaining his reaction to the ban.

“I will carry out the suspension with the resignation of someone who hasn’t done anything wrong and who feels extremely upset by the events,” he said. “I do feel sorry for the fans and for my team mates whom I will not be able to help during the next month. It will be a very difficult time for me.”

In fact, just about the only person who Suarez does not feel the need to apologise to is Evra, the man whom he was found guilty of racially abusing. Not so much as an acknowledgement that any offence caused was entirely unintentional.

As seems obligatory when a comment is issued by an employee of Liverpool FC these days, Suarez managed to shoehorn a reference to the club’s anthem.

“During those days I understood more than ever what ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone'” means.”

Ah well, if nothing else has come out of this sorry mess, it’s good to see that Suarez’s understanding of English has improved immeasurably in the past few days.

If you wish to read the full transcript, it can be found here.

Goal of the day

Karim Benzema finished clinically after a great flick from Gonzalo Higuain, as Real Madrid came from 2-0 down to defeat Malaga 3-2 in their Spanish Cup first leg tie.

Conspiracy theory

Al Wasl coach Diego Maradona has once again impugned the integrity of United Arab Emirates officials, claiming his club is being victimised.

Maradona took over at Al Wasl in May and has been fined for criticizing a rival coach and his team has been banned from playing two matches at home due to fan trouble.

Maradona says “Al Wasl is being targeted with these excessive bans and punishments.”

Al Wasl have been linked with a move for veteran Spanish striker Raul, although Maradona was quick to scotch the rumours.

“When it comes to Raul, there is no truth in the stories,” Maradona told reporters

“The foreign players we would like are Messi, Aguero and Xavi, and if we get those, I’m sure we can find an Asian player to join them,” he joked.

Egypt punished

Egypt will have to play their first two home 2014 World Cup qualifiers at least 100 kilometres from Cairo, FIFA’a disciplinary committee has ruled.

The sanction comes in the wake of violence ahead of Egypt’s World Cup qualifier with Algeria in Cairo last November, which caused injuries to three Algerian players and the team’s goalkeeping coach when their bus was attacked by Egyptian fans.

Blunder of the day

Not a great day for Liverpool all things considered, and for Pepe Reina, a night to forget. Here the Spain keeper makes a mess of a long range Sergio Aguero strike in his side’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester City.

Points deduction

The Swiss Football Association has deducted four points from Neuchatel Xamax after it was unable to provide proof that it had paid players’ wages.

The league said in a statement that the club, owned by Chechen businessman Bulat Chagaev, failed to provide proof that it had paid players’ salaries and social insurance for the month of October.

The dispute seems set to rumble on for a while yet, as the players have not been paid for November of December either. The Tribune de Geneve newspaper reported on Wednesday that as a result they were unwilling to start training again.

Several web sites reported on Wednesday that Xamax captain, Stéphane Besle, and striker Javier Arizmendi had been sacked, and that two players on loan from Fiorentina had been returned to Italy.

Broken Hearts?

The Scottish Premier League has ordered Hearts to pay outstanding wages owed to their players within seven days.

An SPL committee convened in response to a formal complaint made by Hearts’ first-team squad on Dec. 16, when wages were not paid on time for a third consecutive month.

December’s pay remains outstanding and the SPL have made a series of demands in order to halt the financial uncertainty surrounding the club owned by Lithuanian businessman Vladimir Romanov.

Super Mario

Despite keeping a relatively low profile in recent weeks, Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli remains in the headlines. The Italian striker was reportedly banned from returning to his ­£3million mansion by his landlord who wants compensation for damage caused at the property. Balotelli, you may recall, caused significant damage to the property when he decided to set off outdoor fireworks indoors.

However, according to Italian agent Mino Raiola, reports of Balotelli’s eviction are untrue.

“Balotelli evicted? The British tabloids are only good for cleaning your car windows. I wonder, however, why this bull**** is amplified,” said Raiola.

“It is untrue that Balotelli was evicted from his home in Manchester, we have terminated the contract for legal reasons. There is no truth in what the tabloids write and to be honest.”


Just when you thought it might be over, along comes Luis Suarez’s mother to tell the world that her son is definitely not a racist.

Sandra Suarez said in the Sun: “I laugh when they call my son racist. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“I’m afraid now when he comes up against a black person, especially because they’re going to go looking for him.”

Imagine what it’s like for a black person when he comes up against your son.

“I know my son,” she added. “I know he has to calm down a bit with things like the salute he made to rival fans. But he’s no racist.”

Unfortunately, by choosing to express her thoughts via the Sun, she leaves Liverpool’s supporters in somewhat of a quandary: do they applaud her support for her son or berate her for speaking to a publication they detest?

Time for another statement perhaps.