Owners intervene on Suarez but player power rules
Sunday's series of apologies from Liverpool following Luis Suarez's refusal to shake Patrice Evra's hand at the weekend suggest the club and their American owners have finally got the message.
But many would argue it has taken John Henry and Tom Werner way too long to realise the damage being done to the club. In fact, it says a lot about the global nature of the Premier League that it took a couple of critical pieces in US newspapers for Henry and Werner to demand a bit of contrition from Suarez and Kenny Dalglish.
It also makes you wonder why it required an intervention from these supposedly distant American owners to point out the need for Liverpool's star player and manager to come out and say sorry.
As a result of both the Suarez/Evra row and the John Terry affair, this season's racism back story has become so shameful that the Prime Minister feels the need to intervene and hold a summit with the game's authorities.
David Cameron had initially called them together to discuss ways of tackling homophobia. Now, thanks to these two random but high-profile cases, racism will now be on the agenda.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt told me that the government believes football has the power to send a message to wider society about these sensitive issues. But while there is something laudable in Cameron and Hunt getting involved and reminding the game of the example it sets younger people in Britain, campaigners I speak to question how much good it will actually do.
Suarez's refusal to shake Evra's hand forced him to make an apology the next day. Photo: Getty
That's because until football clubs - not the Football Association nor the Premier League - are prepared to tackle their players, then all this will continue to feel pretty hollow.
It has taken four months for Liverpool to admonish Suarez publicly. And only because he refused to shake the hand of Evra. This has nothing to do with the Uruguayan calling his Manchester United rival a "negro".
And even though Terry has been stripped of the England captaincy pending his trial for allegedly racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, Chelsea continue to stand by their captain. Innocent until proven guilty, I hear you cry. But in many other walks of life, an employee would be suspended by their employer until the outcome of a criminal trial.
This is ultimately about player power. Dalglish wanted to do everything he could to keep Suarez at Anfield. As for Terry, his situation is different but there is no question that Chelsea do not want to get into a major dispute with the centre-half.
Clubs invest millions in their community programmes and act with severity when fans step out of line. Now they need to do the same with their players and managers.
Liverpool's actions on Sunday are a start.