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Dec 24, 2011

Fergie backs Suarez ban

Sir Alex Ferguson has described Luis Suarez's eight-match suspension as "the right decision" and suggested Liverpool will have to accept the punishment.

• Suarez T-shirt gesture prompts anger
• Suarez lawyer hints at ban appeal
• Choose your best Prem XI of 2011

Suarez is set to miss eight games and pay a £40,000 fine after he was found guilty of using insulting words with reference to Patrice Evra's skin colour during Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Anfield in October.

Liverpool reacted angrily to the ban, releasing a strong statement criticising the FA and suggesting Evra should also face punishment, and they are currently considering an appeal to reduce its severity.

However, Ferguson has reiterated the club's support of Evra and said he believes the ban was commensurate with the offence.

"Our support of Patrice was obvious right from the word go and that's still the same," he said. "The matter is over and I think we're satisfied that they [the FA's independent commission] found the right decision.

"This wasn't about Manchester United and Liverpool at all. It was nothing to do with that. This was an individual situation where one person was racially abused."

Ferguson indicated his feeling that Liverpool will have to accept the punishment, as Evra did when handed a four-match ban in 2008 when involved in an incident with Chelsea groundsman Sam Bethell.

"Patrice got that suspension for the incident down at Chelsea when no-one was there - just a groundsman and our fitness coach," he said. "He got a four-match ban and we had to wait two weeks for the evidence to come through.

"We were quite astounded at that. A four-match ban? We thought it was well over the top for a trivial incident, but it happened and there's nothing you can do about it, you know."

Kenny Dalglish, meanwhile, insists Liverpool's response to the punishment - which also saw the players donning T-shirts bearing Suarez's face ahead of the midweek draw with Wigan - should not have drawn such criticism.

"The statement couldn't have caused anyone any trouble and I don't think the players have caused any trouble with the FA, either by their statement or support by their T-shirts," Dalglish said. "If we are not in any trouble we will leave it at that before we do get in any trouble."

Dalglish says Suarez has been boosted by the strength of the club's support.

"He's been quite emotional and very grateful," he added. "I don't think it is ever a disappointment when the people you work for give you their undivided support and I think that is the least he deserves."

Dalglish has called for the introduction of guidelines advising clubs on what language is and is not acceptable. "It would be helpful to everyone if someone gave us some guidelines about what you can and cannot say," he said.

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