The Football Association (commonly known as the FA) released a statement on Tuesday that they will be suspending star Liverpool striker, Luis Suarez, for racist comments made during a league match in mid-October. The comments were made toward Manchester United’s defender Patrice Evra. The suspension, pending a likely appeal from Suarez, will last eight games along with a fine of $62,000. The talented Uruguayan was first charged with the allegations on November 16 and an Independent Regulatory Commission from the FA held a seven-day hearing from December 14 to the 20th to investigate the incident. Though Liverpool and Suarez completely deny Evra’s allegations, the FA’s decision was not rushed after a lengthy investigation. The evidence has not been released yet, but I would expect that the FA’s commission has a good cause for such a stern suspension.
This suspension takes a huge stride in Europe’s worldwide effort to eliminate racism in soccer. Racism in Europe, especially in soccer, has become quite horrific and has led FIFA and the FA to launch campaigns to end it. A heavy suspension to a well-known player on a well-known team in a well-known sport internationally is the perfect way to send a message to others that racism will not be tolerated in soccer. Soccer’s racism struggles are equivalent to football’s over-agressive hits and baseball’s steroids dilemma–all are major problems in their respective leagues. They have to be dealt with correctly to be controlled.
The FA’s verdict shows our American leagues how to handle a problem that you want to eliminate. Suarez’s eight-game suspension is longer than a fifth of the English Premier League season. That is a long time for a team to be without one of their best players. Players, and even clubs, won’t learn until the players miss so much time that they begin to rethink their decisions. A couple good examples of this are Mike Vick and Plaxico Burress being banned from football for a year or two for their actions or Ron Artest being suspended seventy-three games for his brawl against the Pistons in 2004. Their lengthy suspensions were in the middle of their prime as professional athletes where they also would have made millions of dollars.
The MLB has begun to understand that to do away with a problem, the consequences must be dire. The fifty game suspensions for the use of performance enhancing drugs is almost a third of a major league season, which is a huge dent in a team’s record and player’s wallet. That alone has probably made many baseball players rethink what they are putting in their bodies.
If the NFL attaches harsher punishments to certain rules then the rules will probably be broken less often. Maybe James Harrison hits shoulder to shoulder or shuts his mouth before criticizing his commissioner publicly. Maybe Ndamakong Suh rethinks his stomp against Green Bay. Or, what if the NFL took their time and investigated Suh’s stomp; maybe, just maybe, they would have discovered that Green Bay’s offensive line was untying his shoes after the whistle and they would have received fines or worse.
Now I am not saying that every time that a rule is broken the offender should be suspended for the season. I just think the punishment should fit the crime, especially if it is a rule that you don’t want to show tolerance toward. The FA decided that a lengthy suspension would help remind the world of soccer that racism is not to be tolerated. I happen to agree with them. Racism in soccer has become much more controlled since FIFA, the FA, and other governing bodies started their worldwide efforts in the early 200s. It seems that the professional leagues in America have something to learn from that.
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