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Black leaders criticize Liverpool for mishandling Saurez/Evra affair

An influential group of high profile black leaders has strongly criticized the way Liverpool Football Club (LFC) handled Luis Suarez/Patrice Evra affair.

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said the club supported Suarez after he was banned for eight matches by the FA for calling Evra "negro". “We stand alongside Luis Suarez, as the football club has always done for people that they respect and people they appreciate for the efforts they have given to the club,” Mr. Dalglish said.

The Consortium of Liverpool and National Black and Anti-Racism Organisations has written an open letter accusing LFC and manager Dalglish of grossly mishandling the Saurez/Evra affair, contributing to the incitement of racism in football and wider society.

The group called on LFC to accept the findings of the FA investigation that concluded that Suarez had racially abused Evra and offer an immediate and unreserved apology to Evra.

LFC is accused of colluding with racism by seeking to dismiss the FA's findings and racially aggravating this sensitive issue by inappropriately and misguidedly showing public team support for Suarez after the publication of the FA's investigative report into the issue.

The group noted that the refusal of Suarez to shake Evra's hand was a further incitement of racism.

The group called on LFC to acknowledge the implicit racism involved and issue a statement with other civic leaders committing themselves to opposing racism and to commit to organise a conference on racism in football.

Gloria Hyatt MBE said: “Liverpool Football Club has presided over the worst incident of racism in football seen in recent years. Their misguided handling of the Suarez and Evra Saga has let down all of those in the city who work hard to challenge racism and make Liverpool a better place to live for everyone."

Lee Jasper, a national human rights and race equality campaigner urged the LFC, including the owners, the players and the manager “to realise the enormous damage caused by their reluctance and obdurate behaviour.”

Recalling that Mr. Dalglish used to manage Celtic, Mr. Jasper said: “He ought to know the importance of stamping out bigotry. The club failed the city, the nation as a whole and in particular Britain's black communities. Their abysmal lack of leadership on these issues has given a green light to racism. They must make urgent reparations and make a clear and unequivocal apology."

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