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Jan 2, 2012

Anti-racism group warns against appeal

The executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe, says Liverpool risk further the damage to their global reputation if the club maintains its backing of Luis Suarez despite his suspension for racially abusing an opponent.

• FA report released on Suarez decision
• Liverpool slam FA over verdict

Piara Powar, who is also a former director of the Kick It Out anti-racism group, believes Liverpool have already sullied their image because of their militant stance in support of a player found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra and banned for eight matches.

He said: "Luis Suarez and Liverpool FC have the right to appeal, however we would call on the club to think again about their public campaign to dispute the charges and contest the principles involved in the case.

"As a club with a good international standing, the vehemence of their campaign is unquestionably causing them reputational harm.''

On Saturday, the FA released a 115-page report from an independent panel into the incident, in which they said Suarez had used the words "negro'' or "negros'' seven times in a two-minute period towards Evra at Anfield.

The finding is potentially embarrassing for Liverpool, who have been unwavering in their support of the 24-year-old Uruguay international, who was also given a £40,000 fine.

The Liverpool players wore T-shirts showing their support for Suarez before last month's game against Wigan the day after he received the ban, a gesture which was heavily criticised at the time, while manager Kenny Dalglish tweeted that fans should not let him walk alone.

The FA's case, according to the report, was that Evra asked Suarez why he had kicked him, to which the forward replied: "Because you are black.''

When Evra challenged him to repeat the answer and said he would "punch him'', Suarez said: "I don't speak to blacks.''

According to the report, Evra then told Suarez he was going to hit him, to which the Uruguay international replied in Spanish: "Dale, negro, negro, negro.'' That translates to: "Okay, blackie, blackie, blackie.''

Powar believes racial abuse between players remains an "unspoken taboo'' in the English game, and hopes the Suarez case will prove to be a watershed moment.

"The Football Association's published judgment from the Suarez-Evra incident is welcome,'' Powar said.

"It appears the FA have taken their time to initiate a process that was both fair in its implementation of football rules, and in accordance with the principles of British justice.

"As an international non-governmental organisation we think the investigation and judgment sets the bar for governing bodies globally.

"Racial abuse between players on the field of play has been an unspoken taboo for too long, an area that has been unsatisfactorily dealt with by English football despite many cases over the past 10 years.''

Liverpool have been given until January 13 to respond, meaning Suarez will be free to play in their next three games, including their Carling Cup semi-final first-leg trip to Manchester City on January 11.