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Liverpool and Arsenal set for showdown

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By ESPN Staff

T-shirts bring angry reaction

Liverpool's decision to wear T-shirts in support of Luis Suarez before their game at Wigan Athletic on Wednesday has been criticised by some prominent black footballers.

• Reina defends Suarez
• Suarez banned for eight games
• Liverpool hit back after Suarez ban
• FA confirm ban could be extended
• Lawyer: Suarez likely to appeal ban
• Choose your Prem Lge XI of 2011

Former Manchester United and Aston Villa centre-back Paul McGrath was one of the first to react, and he was disappointed that the club have chosen to support a player found guilty of using racist language in such a way.

Suarez is, pending an appeal, facing an eight-match ban and £40,000 fine for an incident involving Patrice Evra.

"As an ex-footballer having experienced racist comments throughout my career I was saddened to see Liverpool players wear those T-shirts last night," McGrath said on Twitter. "I would have been much happier if they had worn anti-racist T-shirts."

Blackburn Rovers striker Jason Roberts also took to the social networking site to say: "The stance on the Suarez issue from LFC has bemused me. Are United going to print Evra shirts now? Some issues are bigger than football."

Ex-Newcastle defender Olivier Bernard told Sky Sports: "I really didn't think it was fine to wear the T-shirts. I can understand the club's side of it, but in society we can't accept racism and give support to a player who has used racist words.

"It's not okay to use racist language and the message they sent out yesterday was a bit wrong. I don't mind them giving support to Mr Suárez, but I just think it's a bit wrong to wear the T-shirt because that means they have allowed racist language. I just don't understand it."

Manager Kenny Dalglish, who also wore one of the T-shirts in support of Suarez, said following the draw with Wigan: "I think the boys showed their respect and admiration for Luis with wearing the T-shirts. It is a great reflection of the man as a character, a person and a footballer that the boys have been so supportive and so have the supporters.

"He has earned that. He deserves it and we will always stand beside him. They will not divide the football club, no matter how hard they try.''

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez said: "It is difficult to comment on that particular incident but in general you arrive to the British game and it is a culture shock. Believe me there is no right or wrong in understanding your culture.

"You are seen doing something wrong and you don't think you are doing anything wrong because your background and your culture and the way you live back in your country it is nothing wrong. It is the same when British people go abroad and could upset people.

"The problem is where you draw the line. We are playing in England and you need to understand what is right and wrong but you need to understand cultures bring a little bit of misunderstanding if it is an honest mistake.''

Professional Footballers' Association chief Gordon Taylor said he stood by the FA's decision.

Taylor said: "This was an independent commission experienced in law and football and they must have had compelling evidence, and it sends out a very strong message to the rest of the world. I understand the point about cultural differences but if you come to this country all players have to abide by not just the laws of the game but the laws of the land as well.

"Referring to someone's skin colour has got to be offensive - it's self-evident."

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