Roberto Mancini has become the first opposition manager to question Liverpool’s handling of the Luis Suarez affair and express concern about the length of time it took for someone found guilty of racial insults to issue an apology.
The Manchester City manager was speaking ahead of the first leg of the team’s Carling Cup tie against a Liverpool side missing Suarez, who has been suspended for eight matches for calling Patrice Evra a “negro” during a heated row when Manchester United played at Anfield in October.
Mancini was asked whether Liverpool’s manager, Kenny Dalglish, and players had made a mistake by wearing their now infamous T-shirts in support of Suarez just after the Football Association’s independent commission had announced its verdict. He was nodding in agreement as he replied “maybe” and he then voiced his belief that Suarez should have issued an immediate apology.
“Sometimes a situation like this can happen on the pitch, but it is important to apologise for what you did. Sometimes, on the pitch you can do something you don’t want to because you are nervous, because you don’t think. Everything can happen because you are tired, because you are stupid, you are young, for many reasons.
“I don’t think Suarez is a racist but I think he made a mistake. Everyone can make a mistake. After that, it is important to say: ‘I am sorry, I made a mistake, I apologise for this’ and accept the charge.”
The City manager went on to draw a parallel with his own playing career in Italy, where football has had a long battle against racism.”I have heard everything said against me and I have said some things, but not important things like racist words.”
Mancini was speaking on the day it emerged that a Liverpool representative could be summoned when the parliamentary culture, media and sport select committee holds an inquiry into racism in football.
An evidence session has been scheduled for March 6 and committee member Damian Collins said: “The events of the past two weeks have reignited concern about racism in the game. Although this session will not be restricted to football, it will be the principal area of inquiry following the Suarez case and the concern that has arisen from it.”
Steve Rotheram, the MP for Liverpool Walton, has been pushing for the inquiry at a time when the Anfield club have also had to issue an apology to Oldham Athletic defender Tom Adeyemi after he complained of being racially abused during Friday’s FA Cup tie on Merseyside.
Whereas the reluctance to accept Suarez’s culpability and apologise to Evra has led to widespread condemnation throughout the game, Oldham have released a statement to make it clear they are happy with Liverpool’s “painstaking efforts in investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident”.
A 20-year-old man is out on bail pending further inquiries and the League One club also praised Merseyside police, saying: “Excellent communication has been maintained and the club and player have been notified of every detail during the progress of the investigation.”
The issue of racism in football has also been in the spotlight because of England captain John Terry’s court appearance on February 1 for allegedly insulting Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea’s match at Queens Park Rangers in October.
Rotheram said: “I believe, given the nature of recent events, that it would be appropriate for this issue to be looked at by parliamentarians from all parties and from different football, sporting and non-sporting allegiances.” —