Luis Suarez finally apologises, but not to Patrice Evra
Player makes qualified apology but Liverpool still angry over FA handling of the row
LIVERPOOL striker Luis Suarez has finally issued an apology for the racist langugage that landed him an eight-game ban. But his rather limp statement fails to mention the player he abused, Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, still disputes the findings of the disciplinary panel and maintains that he did not use the word 'negro' as an insult.
The Uruguayan was found to have used the word seven times during a row with Evra when Liverpool played United in October. And earlier this week Liverpool announced that they would not appeal against the decision of the panel.
Now Suarez has provided a qualified apology for his actions.
"I admitted to the commission that I said a word in Spanish once, and only once, and I told the panel members that I will not use it again on a football pitch in England," he said. "I never, ever used this word in a derogatory way and if it offends anyone then I want to apologise for that."
The statement represents something of a volte face after Liverpool and Suarez released bullish statements following their decision not to launch an appeal against the eight-game ban. Liverpool players wore T-shirts in support of Suarez after he was found guilty last month.
On Tuesday Suarez said he would serve his suspension "with the resignation of someone who hasn't done anything wrong", while the club attacked the way the FA handled the affair.
The apology made yesterday may have been prompted by the widespread condemnation of Liverpool's attitude towards the affair.
Writing in The Daily Mail, Dominic King reports: "Though it is understood that the club's owners, John W Henry and Tom Werner, are furious with how Suarez has been treated, there is recognition at Anfield that the club could have handled the issue more sensitively."
While The Guardian's Andy Hunter suggeests that the matter may not yet be closed. "Anfield officials remain aggrieved at the procedures that led to the guilty verdict and intend to hold talks with the FA over changing the disciplinary process for future cases," he says. ·