- Premier League
Suarez apologies weren't forced - LiverpoolFebruary 14, 2012 « Hazard hints at Tottenham transfer | UFC on 146: Dos Santos v Mir- Fight card »
Liverpool have dismissed claims they were pressured into issuing apologies over the Luis Suarez affair by shirt sponsors Standard Chartered.
The bank, who are almost halfway through a four-year deal worth £81 million, were involved in discussions with the club about events on Saturday when Suarez refused to shake the hand of Patrice Evra, the man he was found guilty of racially abusing.
But the Reds insist it was they and not Standard Chartered who decided to take the decisive action in the form of three statements from Uruguay international Suarez, manager Kenny Dalglish and managing director Ian Ayre.
"Ian Ayre kept Standard Chartered fully informed of developments over the course of the weekend,'' said a statement from Liverpool. "The actions the club decided to take on Sunday were supported by Standard Chartered.''
The bank confirmed on Monday they had held dialogue with the Anfield officials, expressing their concerns. "We were very disappointed by Saturday's incident and have discussed our concerns with the club,'' said a statement from Standard Chartered.
Liverpool, having steadfastly defended Suarez ever since allegations were made against him by the Manchester United defender on October 15, were quick to act following the incident at Old Trafford.
Condemnation both in this country and overseas, particularly in the United States where the club's owners Fenway Sports Group are based, brought decisive action from the Anfield hierarchy. And Piara Powar, executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe, said the move, although overdue, was needed for the healing process to begin.
"The apologies are welcome, it's definitely a step in the right direction,'' he told Sky Sports News. "I would say it probably is time now that we started to heal, we started to look at the issues that have been thrown up and we move forward as people are calling for.
"I think there are still some unresolved questions Liverpool need to look at. There's still some lessons for the rest of us that we need to consider in the coming weeks, but it's not too late, it's never too late to say sorry.
"I think it shows British football has a lot to do really. There's a number of questions that have struck us and one of those is clubs need to stop paying lip service and really take some of these social issues seriously. And they [Liverpool] need to think about how they manage star players.
"Clearly Kenny Dalglish's concern here was to manage Luis Suarez and his protestations of innocence. But is it enough to say Luis Suarez is a top player for Liverpool FC, therefore we have to pull out the stops and damage our own reputation? I don't think it is and I think that's something clubs need to look at very carefully.''