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Luiz Suarez banned eight matches for racially abusing Patrice Evra

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Liverpool striker Luiz Suarez has been found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra during an October 15 match at Anfield. As a result, the Uruguayan has been banned for eight matches by the FA and he's also been handed a hefty £40,000 fine. After the match, Evra claimed that Suarez racially abused him "at least ten times." Suarez's defense was that the word he used towards Evra did not have the intention of racial abuse and that it is not considered derogatory in his native Uruguay. However, it was quite obvious during the match that the verbal exchanges between the two were heated and perhaps this factored into the FA's decision. The incident is an ugly one and it was unfortunate that only bad could have come out of this decision, one way or another -- either Suarez was deemed to have racially abused Evra or the Frenchman was falsely accusing his counterpart of racial abuse. Things certainly get complicated in the gray areas of this...

Here is the statement from the FA in regards to their decision:

"On 16 November 2011, The Football Association charged Luis Suarez with misconduct contrary to FA Rule E3 in relation to the Liverpool FC versus Manchester United FC fixture on 15 October 2011. A hearing took place from 14-20 December 2011 before an Independent Regulatory Commission of The FA to consider the charge. The Independent Regulatory Commission announced its decision on 20 December 2011, which is as follows:

* Mr Suarez used insulting words towards Mr Evra during the match contrary to FA Rule E3(1);
* the insulting words used by Mr Suarez included a reference to Mr Evra's colour within the meaning of Rule E3(2);
* Mr Suarez shall be warned as to his future conduct, be suspended for eight matches covering all first team competitive matches and fined the sum of £40,000;
* the [penalty] is suspended pending the outcome of any appeal lodged by Mr Suarez against this decision.

Mr Suarez has the right to appeal the decision of the Independent Regulatory Commission to an Appeal Board. An appeal must be lodged within 14 days of the date of the written reasons for the decision. The penalty is suspended until after the outcome of any appeal, or the time for appealing expires, or should Mr Suarez decide not to appeal. The reason for this is to ensure that the penalty does not take effect before any appeal so that Mr Suarez has an effective right of appeal."

Suarez has received full backing from Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish and it would not be surprising to see them appeal the decision. The Uruguayan is his side's talisman so any suspension could prove detrimental to their ambitions of earning a top 4 spot this season so that they can earn entry into the UEFA Champions League for next season.

The incident is unfortunate on a number of levels and it likely will get uglier in exchanges between supporters of United and Liverpool -- tension is already high due to the unique nature of the rivalry. It is important not to engage in any silly arguments as the issue most certainly is not a 'United versus Liverpool' one -- it has the much more important issue of racial abuse. I would urge you to consider this when discussing the sensitive nature of this incident.