Boston Red Sox owners have a big problem -- racism
Liverpool's American owner now has some big decisions to make
Like tens of thousands of other Irish people, I was at Old Trafford (home of Manchester United - the famous Red Devils) on Saturday last for the latest tussle between those two fierce soccer rivals from North West England - Manchester United and Liverpool. What happened that day has sent shock waves right around the world of sport because a Liverpool player (Louis Suarez from Uruguay) refused to shake the hand of a Manchester United player he had racially abused at Liverpool’s ground in October last year. Liverpool's American owner now has some big decisions to make.
Because of emigration to the two cities and the role that the Irish have had in building the clubs, both Manchester United and Liverpool have a huge following in Ireland and across the diaspora. The American connection is rubber stamped by the fact that the Glazer family (owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) own Manchester United and John W Henry (owner of the Boston Red Sox) owns Liverpool FC via Fenway Sports Group.
The offending Liverpool player Suarez was only returning to the side after serving an eight match ban following an English Football Association ruling that he had abused United's Evra on the basis of his color. Patrice Evra is a French national but his family is originally from Senegal in Africa. Given the explosive nature of the charge against Suarez, the English FA brought in an independent legal team to examine the case against Suarez and the Uruguayan was found to be an unreliable witness who had indeed abused Patrice Evra because of the colour of his skin.
It is the aftermath of the FA's ruling and the way Liverpool Football Club has handled the scandal that will concern John W Henry most. Rather than issuing an immediate apology and disciplining the player, Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish led the whole of the playing staff at the club into the land of denial. Dalglish slammed Evra and issued a defiant message that they would protect their player.
The 2011 Boston Red Sox batting lineup
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In a cup game against United in January this year, Liverpool players warmed up wearing white T Shirts proclaiming their support for Suarez and Evra was roundly booed by Liverpool fans. In other words, Liverpool’s clear and very public message was that the person who had been racially abused was the problem for having the temerity to complain. Liverpool’s famous stadium Anfield was redubbed Klanfield by astounded journalists and observers after this game in January.
By the time last Saturday's game came around, pressure was beginning to build on Dalglish but in welcoming Suarez back after his ban, he again sounded a note of defiance by saying that Suarez should never have been banned in the first place. it was perhaps at this point (way too late in the day) that John W Henry began to take a personal interest in the sorry saga.
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