While it might seem unfortunate timing for Liverpool that one of their fans has been arrested over alleged racist abuse, there are bound to be arguments that the club’s behaviour over the past couple of months fueled the situation. The staunch defence of Luis Suarez – a player who admitted to and was found guilty of using racist language – split the fan base.
Liverpool were fully entitled to defend their player but a blatant disregard for the sensitivities of the case flew in the face of everything that the famous club has stood for. From the egregious statements, explicit criticism of Patrice Evra and the FA, strong hints of a conspiracy against Liverpool (the same organization that has previously been accused of conspiracies against just about every top club in England – can you be prejudiced against everybody??) and, of course, the immensely inappropriate t-shirts, Liverpool have made a complete balls of this.
The club have been so blinkered and ignorant about the issue that their statement even contained complete inaccuracies, wrongly claiming that Patrice Evra has previously made claims of racism. It’s well documented that he hasn’t.
The nauseating picture of Suarez parading around grinning, wearing a shirt with a picture of himself on it is as Spinal Tap as this situation could get. Any amount of self-awareness would have told the Uruguayan that he was going to face a public backlash over it. But even if he wasn’t wise enough (or cared enough) to see that he was completely out of touch with reality, the club should never have sanctioned what was a vulgar display of arrogance.
Liverpool have painted themselves as the victims here, invoking a siege mentality and working some of their supporters up in to a frothy frenzy of injustice. Even if this lamentable action on Friday night is completely unrelated, the public and media will draw inevitable conclusions. The consequences of Liverpool’s actions might have only just begun and I think some day we’ll get an admission that they handled the matter all wrong.