Minister: FA should look into Suarez handshake

Rio Ferdinand looks disgusted as Suarez fails to shake Evra's hand
Rio Ferdinand looks disgusted as Suarez fails to shake Evra's hand

By Ian Dunt

The FA should look into Luis Suarez's failure to shake Patrice Evra's hand yesterday, the sports minister has said.

The Liverpool striker's failure to take the Manchester United player's hand revived the long-running tension between the two clubs, after Suarez was accused of racially abusing his opponent last October.

"The lesson of the last couple of months is you can never be complacent," culture, media and sport secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Andrew Marr programme.


"The prime minster is very concerned we don’t go back to the old days."

Comment: Suarez, Evra and immigrant Britain

He added: "It's incredibly depressing. It's very unsporting behaviour.

"I'm sure the FA will look into if any rules were broken."

Suarez was seen deliberately skipping Avra's hand during the pre-match handshake yesterday afternoon, leading the Frenchman to grab his wrist and then complain to officials.

He issued an apology on the Liverpool website today, saying: "I have spoken with the manager since the game at Old Trafford and I realise I got things wrong.

"I've not only let him down, but also the club and what it stands for and I'm sorry. I made a mistake."

The incident prompted ugly scenes at Old Trafford, with manager Sir Alex Ferguson warning it could have "caused a riot".

He told reporters: "I just could not believe it.

"Patrice and I had a chat this morning and he said: 'I'm going to shake his hand, I have nothing to be ashamed of, I'm going to keep my dignity.’ And he [Suárez] refuses.

“He is a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club. That player should not be allowed to play for Liverpool again. The history that club has got... and he does that. It could have caused a riot.

"I was really disappointed in that guy. It was a terrible start to the game, a terrible atmosphere it created."

At the end of the match, which Manchester United won 2-1, Evra could be seen running up to Suarez and then energetically motioning to the crowd to cheer louder before being pushed away by the referee.

"The referee handled it brilliantly actually," Mr Hunt commented today.

"He did a very good job."

Shadow sport minister Clive Efford MP commented: "There is no place for racism in our country or in British sport, and I commend the actions that the FA has taken to deal with this issue.

In recent years the sport has made great strides forward with the FA's Kick it Out campaign. The FA is the governing body of our national sport and they have demonstrated that they will not tolerate racism in football and shown the kind of leadership that is needed."

The development comes in a week which already saw the England manager quit amid controversy over John Terry's alleged racist comments while playing for Chelsea.

Fabio Capello walked out of the job after the FA decided to strip Terry of the captain's armband ahead of the trial.

“We’ve got to get our house in order," Sir Alex said last night.

"Football has come a long way from the days of John Barnes, people throwing bananas at him but we can’t go backwards.”

Yesterday's events will revive questions over the use of pre-match handshakes, which are supposed to cultivate a culture of respect.

They are also a PR disaster for Liverpool football club, whose manager, Kenny Dalglish, was heavily criticised for a bizarre post-match interview in which he seemed to blame the media for events on the pitch.

The FA is unlikely to investigate the handshake incident although it may look into reports of a fracas between players in the tunnel during half time.

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