England’s Football Association (FA) on Wednesday started a disciplinary hearing into claims that Liverpool striker Luis Suarez racially abused Manchester United’s Patrice Evra in a match in October.
Uruguay’s Suarez, following a month-long investigation, has been charged with abusing Evra and referring to his “ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race” by the FA.
The hearing is set to last for two days with a verdict expected by the end of the week.
Both players are due to give evidence at the hearing.
Suarez has repeatedly denied accusations of racism and Liverpool have insisted they remain “fully supportive” of their player.
The charge confronting Suarez relates to the 1-1 Premier League draw between Liverpool and United at Anfield on October 15.
Evra, speaking to French television station Canal Plus immediately after the match, said Suarez had racially abused him “more than 10 times” during the game.
“I was very upset,” Evra told Canal Plus. “In 2011 you can’t say things like this. He knows what he said, the ref knows it, it will come out.
“I won’t repeat what he said but it was a racist word and he said it more than 10 times.
“He tried to wind me up. I won’t make a huge deal out of it but it’s very upsetting and disappointing.”
But Suarez, quoted by Uruguayan media earlier this month, said: “There is no evidence I said anything racist to him. I said nothing of the sort.”
Evra voiced his complaint to referee Andre Marriner, in charge at Anfield, who included it in his match report and the FA announced the charge against Suarez last month.
No stranger to controversy
Liverpool said after the charge: “Luis remains determined to clear his name of the allegation made against him by Patrice Evra.
“The club remain fully supportive of Luis in this matter.”
And only last week Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish insisted: “The staff, players and supporters will stand by him because they know what the truth is.
“We’ll stand by him. It’s only in other people’s interests that if they cannot stop him on the pitch, they have to try some other ways and means to stop him,” the Anfield great added.
Suarez, who joined Liverpool from Dutch club Ajax for £22-million in January, is no stranger to controversy, having often been accused of diving.
He earned global condemnation at last year’s World Cup by handling a goal bound effort by Ghana in the final moments of the quarter-final, then celebrating when the resulting penalty was missed and Uruguay went through in a penalty shoot-out. — AFP