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Vargas and Neymar battle for player of the year accolade

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Tim Vickery | 08:28 UK time, Monday, 2 January 2012

In the last competitive game of the South American season, Eduardo Vargas scored a goal that made sure Universidad de Chile won the domestic title, and also highlighted why Napoli are taking him across the Atlantic.

Vargas broke from the halfway line. Cobreloa defender Sebastian Roco, worried about his pace, kept backing off. Vargas' control of the ball at pace was so good that he was able to do two things.

First, make a little change of angle to give himself more room. Second, look up and appreciate the situation unfolding around him. He had seen that keeper Nicolas Peric was a few metres off his line. Without breaking stride, Vargas unleashed a beautifully precise chip, over Peric but under the bar.

It is this type of talent that has made the 22-year-old the outstanding figure of the last few months of South American football; but not the player of the year. It was a two horse race, but Neymar of Brazil and Santos pulled away to win the annual prize organised by the Uruguayan newspaper, El Pais.

Vargas came on strongly towards the end of the year, but the first half of 2011 belonged to Neymar. His year began with the South American Under-20 Championship, and a four-goal haul against Paraguay that had even the Argentine press branding him 'Neymaradona.'

Eduardo Vargas scored twice as Universidad de Chile won the Copa Sudamericana with a 3-0 home win over Liga de Quito of Ecuador. Photo: Getty

He was then the key figure as Santos won the Copa Libertadores for the first time since 1963. But from a purely individual point of view, his highlight probably came at the end of July with a goal he scored against Flamengo.

Picking up possession wide on the left, he ran diagonally across the pitch, with a quick exchange of passes and then, on the edge of the area, coming up with an extraordinary dribble past centre-back Ronaldo Angelim.

Neymar opened out his body and played the ball past the defender with his left foot, emerging round the other side to poke right footed past the keeper. It was as if Neymar had passed to himself. In a fraction of a second he had become two players, and worked his own two-against-one situation against an experienced defender.

Neymar and Vargas going head to head for the 'player of the Americas' title is a good sign. Both are worthy inheritors of a great tradition.

A few years ago Brazilian centre-back Juan mused on the differences between top players in Europe and in his country - though in effect he might as well have been speaking about his own continent.

"Technically, the Europeans are better than the Brazilians in terms of passing, shooting, heading," he said, which is not as surprising as it might seem, given that the extra pace of European football means that functions need to be executed faster. "But we have more ability, with an unmatched capacity to dribble."

This ability to come up with an improvised solution - showcased by Vargas and Neymar in their superb goals - is a trademark of the South American game. It could be seen as a metaphor for the survival skills needed by the poor kid born on the wrong side of the tracks, where a sharp eye and a quick mind come in handy for taking advantage of the fleeting opportunities that life throws up.

Then, of course, there is the dynamic of football. One generation inspires the next. Kids in Brazil aim to place themselves in the tradition of Neymar and all those greats who came before him. Chilean kids will be trying to emulate Vargas, now of Napoli, and also his magnificently talented Barcelona-based compatriot Alexis Sanchez.

But what of British kids? One of the most fascinating aspects of football is its global dimension. Tactical innovations can be born in Holland and picked up years later in Colombia.

Local culture clearly has a major impact, but the competitive nature of the game means that there is a constant trade of information, ideas and, especially these days, of players as well.

When I left England in 1994, the Premier League was still an overwhelmingly domestic concern. Much has happened since and the pace of the change has been breathtaking.

In my childhood footballing idols were often all action, charge-through-the-mud types. I don't even remember us giving any attention to free kicks - apart from during the 1974 World Cup, when Rivelino's rockets made a big impression. I imagine that these days the curling free kick is a normal part of a kid's skill set.

And are there kids in Middlesbrough growing up trying to copy Juninho? Or young Manchester City fans seeking to pick up Sergio Aguero's capacity to conjure something out of nothing? I would love to set off a debate this week about how football's globalisation has changed the way that British kids approach the game when (or if?) they go to the park for a kickabout.

Perhaps there are kids out there capable of the same kind of improvised genius of a Neymar or an Vargas. It is a nice thought to kick off 2012.

Comments on the piece in the space below. Questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag;

Q) Could you please give me your views on Erik Lamela and tell me if his move to Roma was a good one for him?
Sean Deneen

A) A class act, I think. Elegant, lovely left foot, good vision, combines well and has a surprising change of pace. I saw plenty of him while he was at River Plate, and felt sorry for him. They were in dire crisis and expecting a teenager to solve their problems on his own, which is clearly unfair. I haven't seen much of him since the move to Roma, but I did see that Totti said that Lamela is his heir, which is high praise indeed.

Q) Welliton Soares de Morais or simply Welliton who plays for Spartak in Russia looks to switch nationality if he is not called up for the Brazilian national team. He seems a very exciting striker who can lead the entire front line with his electric pace and stellar finishing. He is a sturdy little striker who I believe can be a nuisance for any defence. Having scored nearly 60 goals in 90 appearances, how has he not been called up by Brazil? What are your thoughts on a possible call-up and why do you think he is frequently overlooked when others such as Vagner Love have previously represented their country?
Imran Bobat

A) I like him a lot, but he has a big problem in terms of a Brazil call-up - he doesn't really have much of a constituency in Brazil. He played for Goias, an unglamorous provincial club and though the occasional game from Russia can be seen on Brazilian TV, he has largely been forgotten at home. Brazil coach Mano Menezes has called up a few surprise choices, so he can't be totally ruled out. But his call up would be the kind of thing the Brazilian press would attack, along the lines of 'who is this unknown?' and 'we must be able to find a better striker who plays for a Brazilian club'.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Interesting article. What is your opinion on Neymar's future at Santos? Do you think he should move to Europe? Or should he stay at Santos for at least another year?

  • Comment number 2.

    Nice blog Tim. I think that a major problem with British football is the dawn of the Xbox/PS3 because this means less kids will be outside practising and so our advancements in ability are in danger of stagnating.

    P.S. I'm trying to recreate the old 606 at http://bit.ly/tw6Bdj

  • Comment number 3.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 4.

    Tim, great blog as always.
    The issue with British kids is the quality of coaching at kids level. Kids may well replicate skills in the playground with their mates, I remember doing that when I was younger, but as soon as it becomes any form of organised football, that is almost actively discouraged. My son, aged 9, was playing for a team where it was all about punt it forward and score goals and winning. No encouragement for good skill, passing or technique was given at all, either in 'training' or a match. I have got him to leave that club now because it is so poor. It is all about big kids who scare the little kids by being stronger and harder and can batter their way through other teams.
    Until we see the results are unimportant at youth level, British kids will have all real ability driven out of them unless they are spotted by people with the right coaching.
    Parents are as much to blame as they are all about their kid getting the winning goal or getting trophies and not encouraging them to play the game because they love it. My Sons mates all want to be footballers so they can earn £100k a week and get the cars etc, not because they want to play football for the love.
    I know it sounds all romantic but until youth football is on smaller pitches with the emphasis on skill and doing their best, British football will always lag behind the rest of the world.

  • Comment number 5.

    Last March Chelsea signed Lucas Piazon from Sao Paulo on a pre-contract agreement, which believe will bring him to the club later this month. Has he been a player of interest over the past season? Having little knowledge of South American football I'm unsure just how good this guy will be, but I've heard him being compared with Kaka... Thought?

  • Comment number 6.

    The general mind set in this country when it comes to sport is to take the easy option and not take risks. You see it everywhere from profesional sport to the games playied in pubs and parks. why try the exrtaordinary when the ordinary can get the job done. Kids should be encouraged to try the exrtaordinary and with practice will start to believe that anything can be possible with hard work and practice, combine this with talent and you have a special player. It has been many years since football in this country has truely encouraged the special player to express them selves. They always have to adapt to the run and pass style and yes some players have risen to compete at the top level but were never really embraced outside their clubs and many had to move abroad to express them selves. We are always reminded that the English way of hard work and pace is very entertaining and we do have one of if not the best league in the world, but the best players are not english and the national team has not won a major trophy for years. Is it not time to change? to embrace other systems from holland, spain, France, Germany and south america. What will happen is we will keep doing the same thing and rake the money in and not fix what is not broken. Lets be as good as the South Americans its just a state of mind starting with you.

  • Comment number 7.

    Writing here only because your article on Suarez's punishment by the FA (at http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/16262537.stm) did not allow comments. I actually expect your editors to delete this comment as soon as they see it - such is the BBC's own hypocrisy on racism in football.
    You are obviously an admirer of Suarez (see, for example, your article on him at
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/timvickery/2011/11/suarez_stars_as_uruguay_teamwo.html), so it was to be expected that you would see things not in the simple manner they should be seen (i.e. that one player has been found guilty of racially abusing another), but coloured by your perceptions of the state of South American football and its inclusiveness or otherwise with respect to black people.
    In the article on Suarez's punishment, you defend Uruguay as having included black players in its teams as long ago as 1916. This, however, is beside the point, for you then fail to demonstrate how this is relevant to the abuse that Suarez heaped on Evra. (In case you havent seen it, the FA report into the abuse is available online, at http://www.thefa.com/TheFA/Disciplinary/NewsAndFeatures/2011/~/media/Files/PDF/TheFA/Disciplinary/Written%20reasons/FA%20v%20Suarez%20Written%20Reasons%20of%20Regulatory%20Commission.pdf). Whether Uruguay fields black players or not is irrelevant: Suarez has abused Evra, end of story.
    You then claimed that Uruguayan player Maxi Pereira is called "The Monkey" by his teammates, and that this is not taken racially. Excuse me - Maxi Pereira is white. I have never seen an incidence of a white person being called "moneky" as a racial epithet, so your example in this case was irrelevant and fell flat. You are calling, essentially, for Evra to put up with racial abuse as a black person on the basis that his abuser, a white uruguayan, comes from a culture in which white people can be called "monkey" without taking racial offense. Baffling.
    Finally, while alluding to what you call the FA's "moral high ground position", you conclude by stating that the eight-game ban is wrong and goes too far. In your opinion, Suarez should have received a lesser ban.
    This is disgusting and insulting not just to Evra, but also to the many black players who make your job possible reporting on South American football. I hope you take some time to read the FA report, then read your article quoted above, and then post a new article not only apologising to Evra and to your leaders, but also recognising the enormity of the abuse that Suarez heaped on Evra - and the leniency of the punishment Suarez received.
    In this instance, you and the BBC were a disappointment. And you knew it at the time, I am sure, which is why the article you wrote did not allow comments.

  • Comment number 8.

    BeardyDan @ 5, read the following blog by Tim on Lucas Piazon
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/timvickery/2011/04/will_piazon_stand_out_at_stamf.html

  • Comment number 9.

    RantingMrP, you obviously didn't understand that Tim was pointing out the cultural differences in how language is used in certain South American countries. Maxi Pereira isn't called "The Monkey" because he is black, something that if you had read the blog in full you would have understood.

    The whole Suarez affair is a complete and utter shambles......despite all the witnesses and evidence it is concluded on probability..........and then a denial from the commission that Suarez is racist. How on earth can that be when they find him guilty of using racist language. Someone is either a racist or not a racist, there is no inbetween.

    And please don't forget that Evra who was so insulted started the whole incident with his personal insult about Suarez' sister, something that Evra should really be proud of and let off scot free for?

  • Comment number 10.

    RantingMrP seems to take a simplistic view of the horribly complex Evra-Suarez affair.

    Evra acknowledges that he started it by making sexual comments about Suarez' sister, and then using a perjorative Spanish word about Suarez being South American.

    Suarez, for his part, used unacceptable racial language, and both this and the amount of time he spends on the ground suggest that unlike Jurgen Klinsmann he is making no effort to adapt his style to what is acceptable in England.

    I have no problem with Suarez' eight game ban, although I don't believe he is actually a racist. But I believe that Evra's sexual and racial provocation should have earned at least a five match ban.

  • Comment number 11.

    Tim you should promote the world football phone in podcast, you must get sick of answering the same questions. Also why don't the Big Wheel or the top brasscwrite on here??

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi Tim.
    I've been a big fan for years but this is the first time I've posted.
    I would like to make a point about what influence footballss globalisation has had on british kids.
    I am a primary school teacher and witness kids playing football both for pleasure at lunchtimes and also in a more serious manner in matches and tournaments against other schools.
    When playing in their leisure time, kids will try all sorts of extravagent skills, dribbling and long range curling shots. They try to outdo each other and there is little pressure. When playing in matches against other schools, the kids often try these skills but there is often a collective sigh of disbelieve from coaches, parents and team mates if the skill doesn't come off and therefore scares anyone else from attempting anything skillful.

    My main point however, is about something that has crept in to both playing times and that is 'diving' or simulating a foul if you prefer. It makes me very sad to see a 10 year-old trying to con a referee and I feel this is a huge negative that has come about from the globalisation of football. I know that British players are just as guilty nowadays of doing it but it is something that has come from further afield originally.
    I would be interested in your thoughts on the matter.

    (ps, I'm 32 and my first memories of seeing diving was Claudia Caniggia in the 1990 world cup which I thought was hilarious and wouldn't have dreamt of copying. I was too busy trying to recreate David Platt's volley against Belguim or Roger Milla's goal celebration! )

  • Comment number 13.

    I have to say that, as a 'keeper for my school team the thing I most often say is to just hoof the ball upfield. I think that a lot of people are influenced by Barcelona's passing game and want to try and keep the ball on the floor, however, when the passing isn't good enough or the wrong option is taken then it can lead to a lot of trouble. When you watch Barcelona, whilst they keep the ball on the ground, they still try to go forwards, when I play and the centre halves and full backs just pass between themselves with strikers on their back it puts a lot of pressure on them to get the right pass, which isn't great if you aren't too confident with the ball at your feet anyway.

    It may seem an out-dated view, and many people may say that there is tactical evidence to the contrary, but as a goalkeeper I would much rather let the opponent have the ball in their own half than my centre halves trying to play it between themselves on the edge of the 18 yard box with a big target man getting dangerously close to the ball and then a one on one situation if they do intercept it.

    Ultimately though, I have no problem playing a short passing game with my back four, but there is just as much merit in knowing when it is right to just put your boot through the ball and keep it away from the danger zone.

  • Comment number 14.

    Your articles fail to disappoint, Tim. Perhaps we should give you some kind of title: "Cap-Tim Fantastic", anyone?

    Anyway, I'd be very glad to see Neymar stick around a little bit in Brazil before making the imminent move across the Ocean. As we've seen countless times before, players leave with promise and talent - proclaimed, in some cases, to be beyond anything that South America has seen before - and, sadly, do not go on to fulfil that enourmous potential. In Neymar's case, while I believe he will succeed in Europe, I can't help but feel that right now he's still a little bit immature; immature players tend to be impetuous, and thus can make rash decisions at any point in a game - sometimes even curtailing their own participation therein. Surely another 2 seasons in Brazil would fully prepare the mental side of his game before making the move.

    Also, as a side point, this new financial impact in Brazilian domestic football caused by a hike in TV money sounds interesting: do you think it could lead to the Brazilian championship - or even other leagues in South America - attracting players from abroad in the same way that the Premier League, La Liga and Serie 'A' have done? Perhaps Brazilian domestic football will be the stuff to watch in a few years' time...

  • Comment number 15.

    0.
    At 12:08 2nd Jan 2012, yakubusdiet wrote:

    Evra acknowledges that he started it by making sexual comments about Suarez' sister

    --------------------------------------------------

    The same type of comment used in the Zidane headbutt incident !
    Maybe Suarez should have nutted Evra for a 3 match ban.

  • Comment number 16.

    Tim, having watched the Copa America (in spite of the BBC trying to ignore it) I find it hard to accept Neymar being anywhere near South American Player of the Year.

    And I find it hard to avoid the conclusion that Brazil is headed for a nightmare in 2014 which is going to make 1950 seem like a mildly bad dream.

    I can't actually name a single current Brazil international who is one of the world's five best players in his position. In fact, I can't think of a single Brazilian international who is the best South American footballer in his position. And that's a worry.

  • Comment number 17.

    @ yakubusdiet, I would agree with your sentiment but I rate Thiago Silva as the second best centre half in the world at present, after Pique, and I would really struggle to think of 5 right backs better than Daniel Alves. Even Maicon is getting back to somewhere near his best.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hey Tim,

    Happy new year and all that good stuff. Great blog again...
    Personally, with regards to some of the comments you raised above, I think a lot of it has to do with cultural differences. In England, what I have noticed through the age ranks, a lot of work is done to improve the technical aspects of kids for example, passing heading shooting etc. If a kid inst built a certain way, they are dismissed. In the South American countries (from what I have seen and read) there is not much of an emphasis on technique, its more about playing the game, enjoying the game, and doing what they love - Showboating. In England, is is somewhat 'frowned upon' when kids or even adults showboat.
    As I started off, I think it is within the mindset of countries.

  • Comment number 19.

    British kids should be fine... a player like Jack Wilshere doesn't come too often, and the fact that Wegner is playing him is a good sign that there's quality in the English youth ranks maybe expectations are a little bit unfair when you compare someone like Wilshere directly to a Neymar, Messi or Vargas –– In my opinion you do have solid players coming through, explosive talents like Neymar though are hard to get ahold of in any country, but the thing with Neymar is that the jury is still out whether he'll be able to adapt to the European game, diving isn't as appreciated in England as it is in Brazil and then there's the actual pitches; I remember a long time ago reading about a Uruguayan player, Fabian Estoyanoff, who World Soccer proclaimed as the next best thing to come out of Uruguay (circa 2005) –– he never did make it –– but he brought up the issue of the differences in pitches, how the South Americans play on lousy pitches with contributes to developing dribbling and how the pitches are so much better in Europe, the grass is actually higher which slows down the South American, I mean I don't know how true that is, but the European will always have an advantage, the European will always adapt easier to the dynamics of a playing pitch ––– it's not lost on me that Messi, the world's best player was essentially home-schooled to play in Europe since childhood, his countrymen don't always adapt easy to Europe, I remember how bad it went for Martin Palermo in Spain, Agüero is the one rarity and the Brazilians that are making it in Europe tend to be defensive players like Alves and Maicon.

  • Comment number 20.

    Loved the South American dribbling metaphor for the survival skills needed by the poor kid born on the wrong side of the tracks. Very poetic.

    Metaphors for English football?

    Maybe a Stoke City long throw-in could be a metaphor for short selling on the stock market.

    Or the England team’s premature exits from major football tournaments could be a metaphor for the Englishman’s ineptitude in bed.

    http://kingofshebang.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/football-metaphors/

  • Comment number 21.

    Re 19, El Presidente. You have a point with some pitches in SA having longer grass slowing down the pace of the game in some cases. Last years Copa in Argentina had some dubious pitches (im sure the Brazilians agree with their missed penalties) - however thats all I would agree with. Your point that Europeans will always have the upper hand is flawed - The World Cup in South Africa 2010 was the first World Cup where a European country won outside of Europe. Europeans have not been very adaptable in that sense and the fact we dont see many European players going to South America means its nearly impossible to measure against South Americans going to Europe.

    You mention Martin Palermo and Aguero, citing Aguero as a rarity of someone coming from Argentina and succeeding - are you forgetting players of the calibre of Batistuta, Claudio Lopez, Crespo, Redondo, Ayala and recently Pastore, Gaitan, Di Maria, Lavezzi etc...I could go on. Yes some do not adapt, but I would not put that down to Europeans being more adaptable with regards pitches etc resulting in them automatically having the upper hand.

    PS, Dale Mccutcheon, I hope you're not referring to Caniggias 'dive' where he was scythed down by 2 Cameroon players! Anyway, If you thought it was funny, maybe Michael Owen thought it was a good idea, his dives in 1998 and 2002 to earn England penalties against the Argies have never received any bad press or criticism.

  • Comment number 22.

    Thanks for some really interesting contributions - just the kind of debate I was hoping for - especially interesting was No 12 and his view of the difference between 'play' play and 'match' play. Keep 'em coming please.

    Don't want to get derailed by the Suarez thing, but 7 has brought it up, and as he says , there was no opportunity to debate on a blog I wrote on the subject (which was not my doing, I just send the text in - if there's some big conspiracy here I'm not part of it.)

    7 suggests that I owe an apology to the black players who make my job possible. Perhaps I should start with Alvaro Pereira. maxi is, I believe, of mixed race, but Alvaro is clearly black - he's proud of the fact and has no problem with what Suarez did - he even said (i trust in jest) that Evra will have to watch out the next time France play Uruguay.

    This is part of the complexity of the issue. use a word in an english language context and it's like putting your finger in an open wound. the same is not necessarily true in Uruguay - for historical reasons that you argue are irrelevant. History is dynamite here, and I don't think it's wise to pick it up or throw it away as suits our personal argument. It's all relevant,

    For what it's worth, unlike Alvaro Pereira I do have a problem with what Suarez did (yes, I'm an admirer of his football. i'm a bit more dubious about his temperament, but any feelings either way have absolutely no influence on my thoughts on this matter).

    in everything I've written and broadcast on this issue I have tried to stress that I'm no legal expert, and that I'm not privy to the evidence. I still haven't waded trough the FA report, but, for what it's worth, these are my thoughts....

  • Comment number 23.

    Everyone, Evra and the FA panel, appears to accept that Suarez is not a racist. this, then, is a case of bevaviour rather than beliefs. And since we are dealing with a word which in the language used does not carry quite the same baggage as the equivalent in English, I am not convinced that 8 games is necessary in order to educate the player.

    I had thought of a two game suspension - if, as alledged, he really said 'i don't talk to blacks,' then a longer ban, say 4, is appropriate - here he is referring generally, rather than just to evra, which is clearly more serious.

    But i would also ask for a statement from Suarez, in which he accepts that to refer to someone's skin colour in this way in English football is not acceptable, and he promises that there willl be no repeat. if he is unwilling to do so, by all means increase to 8.

  • Comment number 24.

    @ yakubusdiet - Frankly, you can't judge that by just watching Neymar's performance at the Copa America. It would be the same as judging Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Rooney for their performances at last year's World Cup. Surely, the Copa America was the low point of his scintillating year (along with the Barcelona massacre in Yokohama), but hardly his fault (the team lacked cohesion). He was absolutely amazing during the Copa Libertadores and Brasileirão campaigns and shows great promise.

    I think I can name a number of Brazilian players who would be ranked at the top 5 of their positions. Daniel Alves, Maicon and Thiago Silva come immediately to mind. Neymar is certainly one of the top left wingers in the world nowadays. Marcelo is among the best left wingbacks for sure. Robinho has had a highly underrated career; I think he's much better than what people tend to say.

    Apart from that, there are a number of promises that have showed glimpses of talent during the year: Hulk, Lucas Moura and Leandro Damião to name a few.

    What I think Brazil now lack, and Tim has stressed this in his posts, is a trustworthy midfield. Ronaldinho has showed some of his past form in a few matches, though his performance has (as expected, i would say) dipped considerably in the last months. He's still one of the best passers around, though. Ganso is a great promise - I really think he's showed glimpses of incredible passing and playmaking skills, in spite of injury problems and poor work rate.

  • Comment number 25.

    But I think there also needs to be some action from the FA. The 'when in Rome' argument clearly applies to Suarez. But these things cut both ways - the Premier League is a global concern, making money from the entire world. This case is also tried in the court of world public opinion. Defenders of the FA's decision argue that it is sending out a strong anti racists message. i'm not so sure that this objective has been met as well as it could be....

  • Comment number 26.

    This is where history counts. Remember that this is a case of the league of the old colonial masters passing judgement on a son from the country which was quickest to give opportunities to afro-descendents. This really runs the risk of running in to a 'who are they to judge us' reaction - especially in the light of the political situation with FIFA, the English furious about the 2018 World Cup, Blatter putting his foot in his mouth on the racism issue.. etc.

    My concern is taking the anti-racist issue ahead on a global basis. Which means that I would have liked to see the FA make a couple of statements. One recognising the role of Uruguayan football in giving opportunities to afro-descendents. Two, repudiating the pro-apartheid South Africa stance of Stanley Rous, the Englishman who was president of FIFA between 1961 and 74.

    At this point many in england groan and complain that this is ancient history. it always feels that way if you don't suffer its consequences. I don't believe the FA can really take the moral high ground on this issue without kicking over some of their own statues. Without this it comes across as the old colonials playing judge and jury - howver sincere the intentions of the panel.

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    One final point. something the case has brought up is the need for a wider debate on what constitutes racism and what is unacceptable. And this is not just about prejudice suffered by South Americans - it also has to do with the irish, Welsh and Scots.

  • Comment number 29.

    I'm not sure of the effects it will generate, but I think the general opinion, which is somewhat biased against an alleged perennial 'English arrogance', could conclude that this is an example of the 'English trying to dictate morality throughout the footballing world'... which is obviously not the intention, but public opinion can be cruel and misinterpret facts quite easily.

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    30 - i don't see why I owe an apology to Partice Evra because I am not convinced that this sentence is the best way to advance the anti-racist agenda on a global scale.
    I have argued that in my opinion (for what it is worth) what Suarez did is clearly worthy of punishment. We can obviously disagree about the severity or otherwise of this punishment - where I trust we can agree is on the need to take an anti-racist agenda forward.
    From my point of view there are 2 objectives - find the right means of both punishing and educating the wrong-doer, and sending a message on the unacceptablity of racist behaviour.
    I may well be wrong on point 1 - when I get through the report I could have a rethink. But I'm very sure of my ground on point 2 - unless the FA disaccociate themselves from the Rous stance then on a global scale their anti-racist work will not be seen as entirely credible, laying themselves open to the percpetion that they are playing politics - surely we can agree that this is not ideal.

  • Comment number 32.

    @30 - Actually it wasn't caught on camera. Nor was it wholly verified by other players on the pitch. Suarez did not admit saying that specific sentence but did admit to using the word 'negro' to refer to Evra.

    Read the report again. The main basis of the FA's evidence against Suarez was the testimony of both players.

    The crucial argument of the report does suggest that Suarez used insulting and offensive language towards Evra but does not make any assertion that he is indeed racist or is prone to racism in his daily life. The FA nor you, cannot make that judgement. This is not a character trial of Suarez, this is an investigation into one specific incident on a football field. The FA's report was quite well worded towards this. Anybody, and I mean anybody can be pushed into saying or doing something on a football field that they don't mean or would normally say outside of a football field. (Points 344 and 345 of the report.)

    Whilst I'm not defending Suarez for what he said to Evra, I don't think labeling him as a racist is very helpful. For one thing, it doesn't do anything to resolve any conflicts we may have in society and only serves to drive a greater wedge between both sets of players. Suarez identifies himself as 'mixed race' and you yourself have erroneously labelled him as 'white'. Perhaps in Uruguay this would be considered racially offensive? Can you see what a dangerous minefield this is?

  • Comment number 33.

    Tim,

    Good posts on the Suarez issue although in my opinion if he said I don't talk to blacks along with the other remarks alleged then eight matches is quite lenient.

    However I would encourage you to read the report as the world and his sister has had something to say on this without it appears reading it in any detail.

    I say this because while there is undoubted evidence that Suarez "on the balance of probabilities" was been untruthful in some aspects of his evidence, the commission seem, to take an analogy from a different sport, "to have taken the ball and ran with it".

    In fact the main area where it has been established that he has been untruthful is in relation to his own admission that he did on one occaision use the word negro. It does seem "on the balance of probabilities" that he has something to hide here-possibly the fact that contrary to his claims that he did not mean to be offensive he knew quite well what he was saying. You will note I say on "the balance of probabilities" as in fact nobody knows what he meant when he said it and the fact that he admitted it at all is actually evidence of truthfulness rather than the opposite.

    The commission however seem to take this evidence as some sort of license to accept everything that Evra has said and find Suarez guity of using the word black on seven occaisions (which is comical when you consider that Evra in evidence only referred to five incidents). This license is taken despite the fact that on this subject, i.e. the five times that Evra alleges that Suarez used the word negro, Suarez's evidence is quite consistent, he repeatedly claims he never used the word at all in these verbal altercations. The commission make a lot of his concilitory claims around the pinching incident but in the end they say "on the balance of probabilities" this had no racist connotations so in the context of Evra's allegations this should have been considered irrelevant rather than used as further evidence that Suarez was an unreliable witness.

    In fact it is Evra's evidence in this area that have shown inconsistencies albeit of a less serious nature than Suarez's instance of inconsistencies referred to above. The number of times he alledged Suarez had used the word and exactly what the word meant seemed to change a number of times during the course of that afternoon and afterwards.

    Without trying to influence anybody, I would suggest that if they read it with an open mind they will be astounded at some of the conclusions that the commission came to and the conjecture they used to arrive at those conclusions.

    In conclusion I would say that from reading the report I feel that the commission have come to completely unreasonable conclusions. A much more reasonable conclusion "on the balance of probabilities" would have been to find that Suarez meant to be abusive on the one occaision he admitted useing the word and that Evra's allegations were unproven one way or another. In these circumstances an eight match ban would of been about right.

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    Really interesting article as always Tim.

    I think @Booftothemax in post 4 has it pretty much spot on as to why football in the UK is lagging behind technically but I also agree that kids still do copy what they see and hear on TV.

    In England the media portray Lampard and Gerrard as the technical masters of the game. Therefore we gets kids more worried about scoring 30 yards screamers and playing hollywood balls than having a good first touch or dribbling the ball past a couple of their mates. We need to introduce small balls and small pitches for kids and try to let talent lead the way rather than size.

    How about getting futsal going in schools?


    What is even more disappointing is seeing more and more kids diving and arguing with referees, it disgraceful and shouldn't be tolerated but what do you expect when they see "national heroes" doing it every weekend on the TV.

    Someone needs to act and get strict on these things, how about an 8 match ban for swearing at the referee?

    I don't want to go on a massive rant but if the footballing world opened their eyes, watched and learnt from other sports there are so many small changes that could be made my the FA, FIFA and other governing bodies that would immeasurably improve the state of football in my opinion. They should be looking to help show and teach kids how to play the sport and live life in a better way. They could start by introducing video technology for refs to help clamp down on blatant cheating and preventing the horrible abuse of so many in the sport have to live with just for doing they're job to the best of their ability.

  • Comment number 36.

    Ah - that's just priceless, whoever that faceless editor is: delete all of my comments, deny me a voice. I have not cursed or used violent language, or called anyone names. Must be the same editor that used to pull any anti-Brundle comments off the F1 pages: now MB is gone, this is your new hunting ground, then?
    Disgusting.

  • Comment number 37.

    @ 35. skipperation - Futsal: I think I can tell something useful about this... I well recall playing indoor football in England when i went for a student exchange program in England back in 1998... The one thing I remember feeling awkward about was that the ball used was a standard size 5 usually suited for grass pitches, which was sort of uncommon back in Brazil.

    Futsal (or futebol de salão) was the standard sport for P.E. classes in my school and, back then, we still used a heavier size 2 ball, which was really small and bounced way less then the now standard size 4 futsal ball. This made the game concentrate heavily on ground movement and ball control. When the new balls were introduced, it made the game faster; however it was much easier to deal with it. The fact is that training with the old size 2 heavy ball made it easier to develop ball control... and as a result, while I was considered a rather average footballer by my colleagues back in Brazil, i could perform some skills that average English kids weren't able (or willing) to do.

    Futsal is played everywhere in Brazil, maybe more than 'normal' football and it is the standard sport trained in brazilian school; I would guess that it certainly adds to general quality of the average player...

  • Comment number 38.

    Whatever happened to RantingMrP comments? I did not agree with some of his comments, but they really served to a purpose on the whole discussion... did not seem to present any sort of violent or heavy language in any way!?

  • Comment number 39.

    #38: Jon, that's the BBC for you. The absurdity of it all - clearly lost on the boss of the politburo in the editors' workers' committee - is that while my comments are all removed, reactions to them are left intact.
    Can't beat that, can you? I am even shocked comment #36 has been allowed to stand. Or did I speak too soon??

  • Comment number 40.

    Hi Tim,

    A very interesting blog that captures the culture of the american football.
    I am just commenting to get your full view on Neymar Jr?! In my opinion he is an extremely talented player with a bright future similar to Robinho was when he was at Santos and when Robinho made the switch to europe he didn't make the impact everyone was expecting. I feel the case would be the same with Neymar Jr, i just don't see him adapting in Europe at all well. He has the pace, flair, movement and technical proficiency however i feel he isn't strong enough to compete with others at that level.
    Another question i have is, with Manchester United looking to purchase a young central/attacking midfielder, why haven't they taken Paulo Henrique Chagas de Lima (Ganso) into account? He is already touted at the next Kaka and was also a key member to Santos winning the Copa Libertadores and the Brazilian League with his vision and sublime ability to pass. Also a player in my view who should have been in contention for the Player of the Year Award.

    Regards,
    Tom

  • Comment number 41.

    Uruguay's history is irrelevant. If you say what he said on the street in Salta you would get punched.

    Suarez is punished as he would be whatever country he came from.

  • Comment number 42.

    RantingMrP,

    It seems you are being censored. I read your @27 post and didn’t see anything really aggressive there.

    But I disagree with your points of view. At @7, you overreacted on Tim’s article on Luis Suarez.

    There are several issues involved at the Evra-Suarez dispute. @32 did a good job in pointing out several of them. So I will focus on the things you said at @27.

    At @27 you mention that an expert in Rioplatense Spanish was consulted. I wonder who is he/she. I’m fluent in Spanish and I don’t think that Rioplatense Spanish (that would involve only Uruguay and Argentina) exists. I meet Argentines and Uruguayans now and then, and I can tell who is who by the way they speak (not just the accent). But I leave it to Argentines and Uruguayans for further comments.

    It is also a joke to say that Evra’s words were not offensive when used at a game in Uruguay/South America. Players here in South America swear a lot, but it is a different thing to say that this behavior is not offensive.

    So I’m prone to believe that both experts (on Rioplatense Spanish and on South American culture) expressed their own personal opinions instead of Uruguay’s. In that matter, I’ll stay with Tim’s comments on Uruguayan culture and manners.

    In the end, the only credible truth is that Luis Suarez admitted that he said “negro” more than once and that Evra swore Luis’s sister. So if the FA thinks that Luis Suarez is racist then he should be judged in court for an alleged crime. At least, that’s what would happen in Brazil. If Luis is not racist, then both players should be punished by the FA for their grave behavior.

  • Comment number 43.

    As far as the Suarez-Evra incident, there were 20 other players in the field, there was a referee. is there any real proof that Suarez said these things - " I kicked you becasue you are black" I have not seen one player from either Manchester or Liverpool witness this, not even one!.

    Also Suarez is a hot headed player, but Evra has a reputation of making claims related to race. I remember reading in French after 2010 in which he made claims against his former coach in the 2010 World Cup that he feel he was discriminated because he was black among other things. There has been incidents with Chelsea, incidents with a referee. I mean this is not the first time, and I have a feeling that it will not be the last. Making an accusation like this is a serious thing, but I feel that Suarez instead of being innocent until proven otherwise, is found guilty unless proven otherwise.

    Also, Suarez does not speak English, is Evra fluent in Spanish? And whatever happened to the Spanish world Evra used to insult Suarez which is a racial insult in the Mediterranean nations to insult Latin Americans? I feel like this case has become a political football in which people talk about racism in the past, and are trying make Suarez a scapegoating case of racism in the history of English football!!

  • Comment number 44.

    If the FA is willing to send a message to the world that they are against racism, then they will have to give John Terry a similar punishment (given to Luis Suarez).

    Will John Terry get rid of his alleged racist comments to Rio Ferdinand’s brother? And John Terry’s case is aggravated by his role as England’s captain. If nothing happens, there will be great world mockery on the FA.

  • Comment number 45.

    At match level the attitude of British football is still as it was at the dawn of the Premier League. Safety first, as many other observers have put it.

    Perhaps if the flamboyance & dribbling skills of South American players is a metaphor for cultural upbringing, the cautious restraint, politeness and queuing associated with British 'civilized' western culture is a cause for our style of play.

    What sums it up for me is that fans holler & woop in distaste at the brash risk taking of defenders passing the ball out of trouble in their own area, the commentators express shock at the confidence of these players. Xavi is quoted as saying;

    “You are a nation of warriors,” he said. “If I go to Liverpool’s ground and someone puts the ball into the area and (Jamie) Carragher hammers it out of play then the fans applaud. In the Nou Camp you would never be applauded for that."

    Conversely at the Nou Camp, Barcelona are applauded for the composure and belief they show in their ability. All in all, England fails to indulge its flair players. Joe Cole for example, partly down to the functionality of Mourinho's system, and partially down to his role within England's 4-4-2, was reduced from mecurial talent to functional wide midfielder. Where Mourinho utilised him as both his 7 and a 9 in his good seasons, England failed to capitalise on a player who won Chelsea Player of the Year in 2008, outside of his best season for the team.

    The globalisation of the game thus far hasn't reaped the rewards it should have in Britain - or rather, the national side has yet to embrace the players whose heroes are Waddle, Beardlsey, Cantona, Ginola, even Henry & Ronaldinho. In actuality England has, as is common of Western discursive models and understanding of 'self', tried to define itself contrary to the new globalisation of the game; Fast tempo, hard work, guts and determination are characteristics which every pundit and fan wants England to be defined by; when in reality, International football is about control, temperament, and technique - none of these words are used.

    But there is a generation of technically gifted, expressive players who have grown up in this globalised YouTube, SkySports generation. Led by the likes of Wilshere, Cleverely, Tom Carroll and McEchran, who value the ball more than the slide tackle.

  • Comment number 46.

    @16 "I can't actually name a single current Brazil international who is one of the world's five best players in his position. In fact, I can't think of a single Brazilian international who is the best South American footballer in his position. And that's a worry"

    You don't need to have the best player on each position to win the world cup...but you do need to have the best team.

    If all their talk of resurrecting the "jogo bonito" is true, then they will fail dismally as they do not have the players to support such style, they may be able to bamboozle some weaker teams but will be in deep trouble against strong opposition.

    For all their "ugly" football...Dunga's Brazil was the strongest Brazil we've seen in a while because in lieu of having great individual players he played to their counterattacking strength instead, and it worked...except for that one game against the Dutch.

    As I've mentioned before, Brazil should get Bielsa to coach them...imagine that...an Argentinian coaching Brazil...impossible, I know, but it would make them a really good team.

  • Comment number 47.

    @44
    watch out for bosterososvigilante!...he'll ask you to apologise to the English FA for comments like that. ;)

    Not too sure about the "great world mockery on the FA" comment. I didn't think FAs from any country are that greatly respected to start with, considering they usually show more leniency to big players/teams when it comes to handing out punishments...good business, you see.

  • Comment number 48.

    Great article and interesting debate. There are a lot of "ifs" and "buts" with the Suarez-Evra case which makes it all the more difficult for individuals to come up with a final judgement in their minds. I do find Liverpool's behaviour objectionable but perversely understandable. As a Liverpool fan and an "ethnic" supporter, I probably have followed the case more closely than I would otherwise.

    If people travel the world with black people or have heard black experiences around the world, it is clear that a lot of offensive and derogatory terms are used for blacks. Then again, a lot of offensive terms are also used for foreigners and those of different backgrounds. However, it seems that people of African and Caribbean descent have the worst terms reserved for them. We may not like it but we cannot change the fact that it exists. In many countries, the abuse reserved for black players at football grounds is seen as "just part of the game" in a cocooned battlefield known as a football stadium.

    It may seem off topic or on a tangent but that's my few cents. On the issue of Neymar, he's a fantastic talent and I hope he sticks with Santos until the 2014 World Cup. Tim, which type of club would be best for Neymar's first move in Europe and what league/s would you feel he would be most effective in? Also, is the Premier League a genuine consideration for Neymar and his advisory camp?

    PS: Excellent points on Uruguay's historical place in the promotion of "afro-descendant" footballers and Stanley Rous. Many forget that it was Blatter's warmth to African federations and their officials which contrasted starkly with Rous' dismissive stance...

  • Comment number 49.

    @35 "if the footballing world opened their eyes, watched and learnt from other sports there are so many small changes that could be made my the FA, FIFA and other governing bodies..."

    Unfortunately, diving is endemic now...even the germans do it!...and Klinsmann has been retired for a while!

    That needs to be stamped out urgently, it's making a mockery of the game. As well as seeing grown men fall to the ground at the slightest touch as if they have been shot or got a broken leg, only to miraculously recover as soon as the referee has blown the whistle.

    I don't like the idea of video refs but if it helped stamped out diving/simulation, then it would be a good price to pay.

    One thing they should learn from rugby/field hockey is not to argue with refereeing decisions and get on with it, enforced by cards/moving penalty forward, etc

    The beautiful game is quickly becoming the farcical game...let's hope it's not too late.

  • Comment number 50.

    Tim,

    what is your opinion about a Chinese player joining Corinthians?...is it just a PR stunt to gain commercial interests in Asia as some have mentioned? It seems to be the most likely reason.

  • Comment number 51.

    @47
    You were complaining the FA werent doing anything when it is out of their hands. Dont be such a baby.

    @45
    Yeah, whatever.

  • Comment number 52.

    Insults of any kind coming from the stands can and should be controlled.

    That said, I think that what happens on the field, stays on the field.

    That's actually a sacred unwritten rule in Uruguayan and Argentinian football. It's a football specific thing not found in any other cultural setting, as far as I can tell.

    Nothing is off-limits, nothing: sisters, mothers, wives, children, intelligence, physical appearance, sexuality, any kind of ideological affiliation, regional provenance, and, yes, race, are fair game.

    Once your off the pitch, you don't talk about it.

    Not all players do it, and I'm sure not everybody likes it, but it's there.

    I know Peter Wade, one of the language experts consulted by the FA. He's an expert on Colombia, a very different country, which leads me to believe he probably doesn't know this very specific football thing in Uruguay.

    But the decision goes beyond LS and his unsavory behavior because, like Tim points out, the FA has a nasty recent past it hasn't owned up to yet. To a certain extent, LS is being used as a scapegoat. BTW, the expression for scapegoat in Spanish is "cabeza de turco," or Turk's head. Again, lost in translation.

  • Comment number 53.

    Great article, Mr. Vickery! Sergio Aguero is 173 cm. Eduardo Vargas is 175 cm. Neymar is 174 cm. I think it would have been difficult for them to advance in the ranks of Academy Football in England. Although maybe I'm wrong: some sharp scouts decided that Juan Mata, who is 170 cm. short, was a good buy for Chelsea, and he was! Lots of players who would not have a career may benefit from this trend.

  • Comment number 54.

    #42 & #43: Yes, it looks like I finally made the Bbc's 'must not be allowed to post' shortlist. I can't speak for Evra's competence in Spanish, but the FA report quotes both players speaking to each other in the language during the incident - and the words quoted for Evra seem pretty much 'normal' - if dirty - Spanish, do one assumes he has a working knowledge of the tongue.
    I believe there will almost certainly be a criminal charge arising out of the case.
    Finally, I agree that it makes the Terry case horrendously difficult to adjudicate now, and almost certainly prejudices the FA itsel when it has to deal with Terry. But I think it makes the point even more strongly: that the usage of racial epithets against other players on the football field is unacceptable whatever the context, period.

  • Comment number 55.

    firstly, i made an account purely based on answers to rantingmrp's comment. I have to say that i am often irked by responses to BBC threads (especially tim vickery's as i read those more than the rest), but that i fail to see the controversial nature of rantingmrp's comment. He laid out his argument in undeniable simplicity that purveyed his view. Upon reading Tim Vickery's response i must admit that most of rantingrmp's comments were valid. Even his opinion that Mr Vickery was of questionable allegiance with regards to his employment. However, i'd have to say, from reading previous articles and from being a south american living in britain, that i dont believe Tim Vickery is in any way mitigating Suarez's comments but that his comment concerning the length of the ban is invalid. Mr Vickery, i fail to see how racism in a setting in which you live/work isn't racist whether or not you are from there. If a banker from North America moved to Britain and used British racist terms by accident, is it not up to them to discover, and dare i say it, err on the side of caution/ask someone in privacy whether or not the terms they are familiar are acceptable. Is it not the same as that indeterminate bank advert a couple of years ago where we all discovered it is offensive to show your soles to anyone in South East Asia. If we did so would it be unreasonable for locals to be offended??

  • Comment number 56.

    lastly, i fail to see and welcome education regarding this day and age's moral compass. Surely one of the most prominent attributes of the advent of globalisation is the possiblity to share and effectively communicate international morals (i.e. anti-racism). I cannot emphasise fully enough the ineptitude of the previous statements. In what way possibly is it valid to repudiate current opinions based on historic failings. How can a modern day racist example be mitigated by historic English racisms. This is where i feel Mr Vickery that your allegiances show due to your long stay in South America. Does the fact that England invaded numerous countries affect whether or not Suarez is racist?? If the FA is deliberating on that issue, why is there any suggestion as to historical precedents?? In what way does history affect a modern day incident?? Globalisation means that customs/racist-non-racist remarks are universally available to anyone, so there is no excuse to me going to China oblivious of local customs!! The fact that one country historically wronged another (no matter to what extent) should not and cannot affect a decision based on modern day and to suggest that is should would mean all South Americans can be racist to the Spanish/Portuguese and Americans/Indians/Caribbeans can be racist to the British without repercussions. There is no line at which to stop. You can delve deeper and local South American tribes can be racist to larger tribes or even larger leading to Toltec/Aztec/Mayan/Incan racism. The advent of universal knowledge via the internet must mean there is a universally accepted code of conduct.

  • Comment number 57.

    Lastly, lastly, lastly, "negro" while not offensive many in South America is highly offensive to many in the West. The "when in rome" perspective is impossible to repudiate. What is and is not permissible is what is and is not permissible in your current location. If Suarez was playing football in certain parts in America or even England, the use of "negro" to designate a black person (no matter how innocent the intentions) would be unacceptable and there is a good chance he wouldn't walk away from it!! Of course this is an extreme it still represents the sentiment

  • Comment number 58.

    Good blog as usual Tim.

    The most worrying aspect of the Suarez/Evra affair, should we really be allowing the FA to hold court and brand a player, if they judge him to be guilty of an offence? Especially if the alledged offence is one, that should be dealt with by the official judiciary.

    For some time the FA has had the agenda, 'Kick racism out of football' which is a noble cause. For the FA to then form a so called 'independent panel' and then give itself the right to judge the accused offender is a scandal. It canot be independent if an FA member is on the panel.

    I strongly believe if the case had reached a court, the outcome would be entirely different to the findings of the FA.

    When an organisation has a cause, it has to be seen to act, fairness and justice will never exist.

    Tim I do believe that you are 100% correct when you ask for clear guidance on what constitutes racial abuse and the areas that surround it. The law of the land is clear yet seldom tested. The FA's thought's were unknown, until the Suarez case. The FA deem racism to only involve the colour of skin, which is simply not true. Racism is also geographical.

  • Comment number 59.

    As someone who was born in Argentina but who has been raised and educated in the UK I feel I can provide insight and understanding of BOTH cultural perspectives. In the interest of full disclosure I would also like to point out that I am a Liverpool fan.

    Firstly, let me be clear about Suarez's conduct: using the word he used in a conflict is not acceptable. It is not possible to casually call someone "negro" (note: NOT "a negro") unless you have received some form of permission from that person. Once this - usually unspoken - permission has been granted, the term is a friendly and affectionate way of addressing those close to you (i.e. friends and family).

    However, if the word is used in an argument than the context tells you that the person is deliberately attempting to to be provocative/offensive. On this basis, Suarez behaved unacceptably and should be punished accordingly.

    As a Liverpool fan it pains me to lose such and important player for so many games but if that is what it takes to stamp out prejudicial words and actions than so be it. I would, however, agree with Tim that Suarez should not be hung out to dry: his actions are borne of an ignorance of what is culturally acceptable in the UK and as such he should educated rather than thrown to the wolves.

    Secondly, there is a further issue that has been overlooked but that, in my opinion, deserves equal attention: and that is Evra's conduct and racist language towards Suarez.

    According to Evra's own testimony the confrontation started when he addressed Suarez as "South American" after being fouled. To an English-speaker this might seem an innocuous comment but when said in Spanish (by a European) to a to a South American the word he used is deeply insulting and racist. This relevant as the conversation was held in Spanish.

    The actual word isn't mentioned in Spanish in the FA's report (they just say "South American) but Evra likely used the term: "sudaca". The is an abbreviated and pejorative form of the correct "sudamericano" (South American). It is derogatory term used in Spain and directed as an insult to all South Americans - the implication being that South American's are dirty, immigrants, etc. It has a further double meaning: suda aca or "sweat here" (understood in the context that a lot South Americans in Spain find themselves doing the most menial jobs).

    On this basis, Evra was also deliberately attempting to to be provocative/offensive and should receive an equal punishment. Racism is not acceptable from anyone.

  • Comment number 60.

    Final note: The reference to Suarez's sister is a red-herring - the words "la [bleep] de tu hermana" are used as an exclamation (akin to "for [bleep's] sake" or "[bleeping] hell") and not as a direct insult.

  • Comment number 61.

    @ 60

    Not very well explained. Basically I mean that Evra exclaimed "la c*ncha de tu hermana" rather than directed it at Suarez's sister... if indeed he has one!! To put it into context, I might use similar language if I stubbed my toe... or if someone fouled me!

  • Comment number 62.

    #58: No, racism *cannot* be "geographical", unless that is tied unequivocally to an ethnicity. There is discrimination based on geographical origin, for sure (a quick look at the debates in England just before the recent Rugby World Cup, in which the issue was whether players born abroad but of English heritage - e.g. Kevin Pietersen in Cricket - should represent England at international level, would serve up examples of this), but this is *not* racism.
    We should not trivialize racism by lumping it together with other forms of discrimination, deserving as they are of attention themselves, but obviously lacking in the historical precedents of horrific, violent discrimination that racism has visited on humanity. The FA rule that was used in the Suarez case is E3(2), specifically the clauses dealing with a breach of the rule involving "...a reference to, amongst other things, a person's ethnic origin, colour, or race..".
    When the case is looked at in this light, then is quite easily open-and-shut - even using Suarez's testimony alone.
    The question of the length of the ban is subjective and is obviously open for debate - depending on how one sees the seriousness of the message the FA is sending out.
    #56: I agree, Tim Vickery's responses have a very South American timbre about them, they are almost Blatter-esque (in the sense of "it is a cultural thing that is too complex to be adjudicated and should be left to the players to sort out") - which I think it utterly wrong. The FA does not have the most stellar history when it comes to fighting racism in football - but who does? One cannot use the FA's past to determine how to fight racism today, or whether sanction applies in the Suarez case in particular. The broader fight against racism in football (itself part of a much larger drive to rid all sports of discrimination) must go on, but it is wrong - in my opinion - to argue that sanctions handed down in this and other cases like it should be shortened or otherwise made easier merely because (a) the offending player / person's home football federation has an admirable history of inclusion, and/or (b) the football federation handing down the sanctions itself has a bad history with respect to inclusion.
    #58: The FA does have jurisdiction in this and similar cases: following the FIFA Executive Committee meeting in Zurich March 16 -17, 2006, the organization’s
    disciplinary code [Annex 1] was significantly strengthened to fight racism in football, and the changes made shifted more responsibility to football federations for the behavior of their fans, officials and athletes.
    Of course the fight against racism will be long and hard: as recently as 2005, the FA itself was caught out when it released the DVD "The Pride of the Nation", celebrating England's best players of the previous 40 years - and there wasn't a single black player in the list that made the final edit of the film. The DVDs were recalled and the FA apologised after the incident. It goes further: a look at the game in England shows that, despite the large numbers of Black players in the game, few of them are tapped to become managers after retiring, and fewer still ever make it to the boards of their former football clubs.
    This is why the FA must be lauded for the stance they have taken in the Suarez case: they are demonstrating that racism is not acceptable in football, and one has to hope that this, as well as the learning we assume they got from their previous mistakes (mentioned above), will help in the struggle to rid football of racism at all levels.
    In this endeavour, responses like those Mr Vickery wrote - effectively in defence of Suarez, in my opinion - are unhelpful at best and downright insulting at worst.

  • Comment number 63.

    Really good article again by vic, I have really been impressed by neymar and I think south america players needs to spend more time in their domestic league to retain their unique and more entertaining style because moving to europe early makes them lose touch and try to play the european style of the game. [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 64.

    RantingMrP

    Nothing wrong with any of your posts and you are entitled to your opinion same as everybody else including Tim I would point out.

    You have made a lot of comments on the Suarez case and referred to the FA report on a number of occasions.

    Can I ask you a question? Have you read all 115 pages of the report?

  • Comment number 65.

    62.At 05:24 3rd Jan 2012, RantingMrP wrote:
    _________________

    I must say I have to disagree with a variety of your arguments.

    1. I agree with Tim and with Londoner in Exile, that the FA do not have / should not be granted jurisdiction to decide on what is essentially a criminal matter. Their independent panel is akin to something of a judges' committee with a balance of probabilities evidence test. Essentially with zero / minor evidence provided (from the FA report) from third party sources, it has been very much evra's word against suarez. In the court of law, this would not pass the "beyond all reasonable doubt" threshold.
    2. The FA have not provided any guidance whatsoever as to what constitutes as a racist remark / racism. For obvious reasons, even in this blog, people have innocent differences on opinion. For example I firmly believe that racism is geographical as well as ethnic, the case of sinisa mihailovic and patrick vieira pointed this out, where it was believed that SM's comments to PV about his ethnicity was racist, yet PV calling SM (*expletive* gypsy) was not. IMO the FA need to provide clearer guidelines on this matter.
    3. To an extent I can understand Blatter's comments about "racism can be solved with a handshake". It was only in this "we are holier than thou" country that this comment was derided. I'd like to think that most times on the football pitch many profanities are said that are meant to rile up opponents and nothing more. Once the match is over, everybody shakes hands and hatches are buried. Incidentally vieira and mihailovic played with eachother at inter, and SM then coached PV with no incidents. Further proof look at schmeichel and wright.
    5. The points about "the fight against racism will be long and hard" are irregularities that are getting highlighted in a frightened PC culture. The 2005 DVD for example, when you think of England's best players, you think of Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker etc not SOl Campbell, Carlton Palmer, Andy Cole. The more worrying thing IMO is that the FA recalled the DVDs and positively discrminated by including more black players. The further comments about the lack of black managers is ridiculous. It is akin to evra complaining to Clattenburg for being booked in the Liverpool game because of his colour. Ince got his chance at Blackburn and was not good enough. Powell is in charge at Charlton and is doing a good job. I don't think it really matters in football, right man for the job. There are few English managers at the%2

  • Comment number 66.

    @ 65
    Sorry #5 should be #4. Before anyone jumps on my back.

  • Comment number 67.

    RantingMrP

    I agree that I found Mr Vickery's initial reaction at little apologetic in regards to Suarez's actions, but it wasn't really Blatter-esque. I've been trying to find out exactly what was said now for the past two weeks. Two weeks where I've been absolutely amazed at the utter nonsense spouted by well-known journalists and publications on a subject, language and culture that they clearly no nothing about. The problem with passing judgement on this case is that even after reading the report, it seems nobody is entirely clear about what exactly was said. Evra insulted his sister and Suarez used the term 'negro', this much is clear. Since the FA has chosen to believe only one person's side of the story over the other, it's a little bit like two kids being sent to the headmaster's office and the bad boy who is always doing cheeky things (biting people or giving the finger) is branded a liar, while the other boy, who has been reasonably good recently, is believed completely. This isn't how you send out any message of anti-racism or anything at all really.

    I did get time to read your previous comments before they were deleted, so it makes it rather difficult to debate. Shame on you BBC!

  • Comment number 68.

    Re. England

    I'd say that in most parts, jumpers for goalposts is sadly a thing of the past. Kids are getting fatter and fatter on a diet of PSP and xbox while their parents worry about what the D**** M*** tell them is waiting outside for their little Timothy. Most football is now only done when palying for the school/local club. I watched an under-12 match (why kids are playing 11 aside at this age speaks volumes about our youth coaching and attitude) and was saddened see the forward diving onto ground whenever a defender was a breath away from him. A positive were the freekicks. Generally very accurate and struck with force.

    But on the whole, unorganised football is in the decline, which can only lead to a lack of imaginative play and more robotic footballers, trained for purpose and as predictable as any.

  • Comment number 69.

    65. Regarding 'holier than thou'' attitude. I agree that some people are taking a very balck and white (sorry) approach to all this, but isn't it possible, only possible, that Britain may know a little bit more than some countries in how to deal with racism? Yes, sometimes the PC brigade go to far, which I find insulting to everyone, but let not forget that there was a time not so long ago, when black people in the UK were hurled abuse on a daily basis, not just on the street, but at work and on the pitch. We (well most of us) have learnt quite a lot from those experiences and when Blatter says 'Racism can be sorted out with handshake', isn't possible, only possible, that these words could be the bleetings of a rather ignorant person? Is it just possible that these words could be viewed in a way that makes racial discrimination trivial?

  • Comment number 70.

    Eduard @65 , great point about the video. At first glance it appaers ridiculous that they thought it necessary to pull the video. Further evidence that the FA are more concerned with what appears to be happening rather than what actually is happening. For them it is much more important to be seen to be anti-racist than judging each case on it's own merits.

    It could be argued of course, that pulling the video was the correct decision for the FA as, while there was probably no racist overtones in the decision not to include black players, any perception that there was would not be good for the game. The video in this context was expendable. Liverpool Football Club seem to have been claiming that Suarez's reputation has been equally expendable on a similar principle.

  • Comment number 71.

    I'm surprised to read that so many Dads are still reporting the same problems with youth team football, "lack of emphasis on skills, pitches too large etc". I say this for the simple reason that Trevor Brooking was in charge of the FA youth development and released the report that basically said the same things. Youth football is too physically orientated and there is no need for competitive matches at such an early age. The FA pledged to plough millions to implement the recommendation from the report, yet on the surface of things little seems to have been changed.
    I know at my club, Man Utd, they take an intensive skill set approach at their junior levels. I imagine this occurs at other top clubs as well, but I just wonder (and worry) at how widespread this is?

  • Comment number 72.

    69.At 11:01 3rd Jan 2012, SlovakIron wrote:
    ____________________

    But this is why I think it's critical that the FA provides guidelines on what is racist and what is not. I mean it all depends on the people that are placated as well. With regards to Blatter, I think his comments were thrown out of context. There's a difference (to me anyway) between 30,000 + fans chucking objects, abusing football players, as opposed to another football player making comments to "wind up" the opponent. Let's be honest, most of these players are on a multicultural team, either they do a top notch job of pretending not to be racist day in day out, or these are heat of the moment comments, which can be sorted out by a handshake. I used to play football even up to a higher level, being of russian origin, I would get jokes, obceneties from opponents (and joking ones from teammates). I didn't take it personally because I knew it was a way of them to try and wind me up. After the game, we would shake hands and the lads would be fine. We'd kick lumps out of eachother but shake hands after the game. That was Blatter's point. And as Tim pointed out, Blatter had a very progressive stance towards African nations during apartheid.

  • Comment number 73.

    The FA report doesn't accept that Evra called Suarez 'Sudaca' or anything like that:

    "Mr Evra denied using the words "South American" when speaking to Mr Suarez. When it
    was put to him that he had done so, he seemed genuinely bemused. He said to address
    someone as "South American" in this way is not something he would do. He said "What's 92
    the sense? What's the point?". There was no evidence of Mr Evra using this phrase on any
    other occasions."

    That some people, including Dalglish at the time, are trying to make out like Evra is somehow in the wrong is astounding. His evidence, from the start, was fairly consistent, and he hasn't 'done this before' as Dalglish said - someone else reported the incident at Chelsea.

    I have to agree with the poster earlier, number 33, having read the entire report I thought the findings were harsh. Having said that Suarez is also clearly guilty of having referred to Evra's colour on one occasion (how they find him guilty on seven occasions isn't logical on the basis of the evidence).

    The linguistic experts were called in to judge both Evra and Suarez' transcripts, and the language both players said was used. That section of the report is quite interesting, and they actually say that if Suarez was being racist towards Evra the words used are highly unusual - they don't quite fit that context. I don't think anyone could argue with what the linguistic experts add to the case.

    On the subject of the FA apologising for Stanley Rous' stance, whatever the merits of this it is clearly not going to happen - the FA would feel that they have nothing to do with their predecessor and won't want to be tarnished by that image. Whether this is right or not, and it probably isn't, its unrealistic to expect them to shoehorn an apology for that onto this case.

    As is written in the report, the sole point of focus is to find out whether Suarez referred to Evra's colour (which he did), not to deem if Suarez is racist or not, and not to make any wider assumptions about racism in football. This may be a bit escapist - its a globally followed league - but then again thats not this commission's fault.

  • Comment number 74.

    70.At 11:04 3rd Jan 2012, DUBLINVIEW wrote:
    ________

    I understand what you mean about perception etc, but that is almost my point about the PC brigade, it's almost a case of "he who shouts loudest is correct". I just wonder how the case might have been had suarez taken offence to what evra said, and made the charges first?
    I just think this type of action is just as demeaning to minorities as actual racism. It doesn't do anyone any favours.

  • Comment number 75.

    is there any real proof that Suarez said these things - " I kicked you becasue you are black" I have not seen one player from either Manchester or Liverpool witness this, not even one!.

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    I've not heard Suarez deny saying it either, he's had a week or so to do that now. If I was publicly shown to have said what he did and I hadn't, i'd be trying a damn site harder to clear my name than Suarez is.

  • Comment number 76.

    To add to that, I think this report leaves Liverpool in a difficult position - not that they couldn't appeal against some of its findings. The problem is they've been completely unequivocal in their support of Suarez, the whole t-shirt thing, Dalglish muttering about 'people who mean something to this club and this club means something too' and undermining the commission from the outset.

    Now Suarez has basically changed his story, as has Dirk Kuyt, to contradict what was reported to the referee by Commoli and KD immediately after the game, in English and Spanish, when he admitted saying 'porque tu eres negro' (corroborated by Kuyt's post-match statement).

    In light of that firstly you have to question Liverpool's judgement in so publicly supporting him as they have done, and now how can they continue to do so? Could they backtrack a little bit and still appeal? Or will they accept the report in full? Impossible situation for the club, in my opinion.

  • Comment number 77.

    72. I agree that the F.A. should be far clearer in what THEY deem to be racist, as if footballers are going to receive this kind of punishment and are maybe not so aquainted with English (or British) culture, they need to have some type of code of conduct to follow.
    I've played both non-league and amateur football in the UK, as well as amateur football both here in Slovakia and Spain. I have and had no problem with players trying to wind me up, but I find insults regarding skin colour a bit too far. I've had many debates with Spanish friends in regards to this and many of them think it's completely acceptable to rile an opposition player (either as a player or as a fan) by using blatent racial slurs. Their reasoning is that they are only trying to wind up the player and that it's not racist at all, which of course is nonsense. If you insult someone by using their ethnic origin as an insult, you are basically saying 'I think you come from a worse race than me'. No matter how lighthearted, it's still racist. As the saying goes, many a true word is spoken in jest.
    For this reason, I think that Blatter's choice of words were appalling. This isn't a case of Old England getting on it's high horse, it's a case of us seeing something deeply wrong with this. Yes, it may have been taken out of context and occassionally things can be cleared up with a handshake, but I feel that this is the exception, not the rule.
    I think you are spot on in regards to the PC brigade though. These people are so out of touch that it's actually offensive. Positive discrimination is still discrimination and doesn't do anybody any favours at all.

  • Comment number 78.

    77.At 11:39 3rd Jan 2012, SlovakIron wrote:
    ____________

    I guess it all stems to opinions and perceptions. For example I think on the context of the football pitch, I would to a certain point agree with your spanish friends. To me the whole point of racism, or a racist remark is the intention or mens rea of the phrase. Did you have the intention of causing offence / abuse by the remark, or was it no different to saying, "you're rubbish at football, I'm skinning you everytime, your sister .... etc etc". A lot of mainstream humour is somewhat racist, just watch family guy, south park, Dave Chapelle etc the list is endless.
    Like you said, it's critical to provide a code of conduct, for exactly the reason above. My perception of what is racist may (and sounds like it is) different to yours. Neither of us are right or wrong, just different. If players know what the boundaries are, then they can keep within them and have no excuse for going outside.
    As for the case of Blatter saying to shake hands, I don't think it is appaling at all. I think people get too high up on a moral horse and say there should be punishment, but what then? Mandela showed that even after his incarceration, he purposely sought out those that imprisoned him and those that racially mistreated him and would go to shake their hands, as a symbol that he had moved. To me this is the point Blatter was trying to make.

  • Comment number 79.

    #77: As you can see from the responses on this issue right here, racism in sport - especially in football - is a problem we'd rather not see, no talk about, not hear about - especially here in England. Perhaps the rather tribal support of football teams makes matters worse: Evra is a United player complaining about a Liverpool player, so it is a high-profile issue (while the very pertinent and similar case of a Chelsea player using racist language towards a QPR player simmers on low heat in the background).
    But there is no shortage of fans, players, managers, and sports journalists who will see no evil where racism is concerned - and who will happily bury their heads in the sand and blame "cultural differences" even in blatant, open-and-shut cases of racism.
    You only have to read blogs like those at the BBC website, and scroll down to the comments, to see manifestations of this.

  • Comment number 80.

    @ 74 I agree with the crux of what you say but I think that racial insults in football have to be addressed, not that I think that multi-million pound football stars have the right to equate years of discrimination against people of their race with heat of the moment comments in a football match.

    It is because, if society accepts that its ok to abuse somebody with reference to their colour, race etc, this creates a climate where the actual discrimination can thrive. This is why I believe that JT is not a reprehensible man nor indeed a racist if he said what he is alleged to have said to AF. He does however, if guilty, deserve a significant ban.

    This is exactly what the commission said about Suarez, however as I outlined earlier I feel they have gone much further in their judgement than they should of. It's only a personal opinion of course but on reading the full report I found some of the inconsistencies on how they treated respective witness statements as frankly staggering.

  • Comment number 81.

    @79 "But there is no shortage of fans, players, managers, and sports journalists who will see no evil where racism is concerned - and who will happily bury their heads in the sand and blame "cultural differences" even in blatant, open-and-shut cases of racism.
    You only have to read blogs like those at the BBC website, and scroll down to the comments, to see manifestations of this."

    Thats completely unfair, Tim did not blame cultural differences - he rightly stated, before we had all the evidence, that they could be taken into account. I can't think of any journalist who has buried their head in the sand, in fact only LFC seem to have done so. I heard Tim on the radio making exactly this point, and other callers/panelists misunderstood it as making excuses then - it wasn't and isn't.

    @74. What Evra said wasn't about Suarez' sister, though it used the word 'sister' it was a normal exclamation, and the commission found that he didn't refer to him as 'sudamericano' in any form, so its not really a case of who shouts loudest eduard_streltsov_ghost.

    I'm in agreement with 80 regarding witness statements, I don't know why this hasn't been made more of. Maybe nobody else has bothered reading it dublinview.

  • Comment number 82.

    75. I'm neither a Man U nor Liverpool fan, but if I were Suarez and I were innocent, I'd probably not bother appealing as I would feel deeply agrieved that the F.A. have basically taken Evra's side on a case which essentially based on what two people have admitted saying. I've read the report, but I hardly find it clarifying at all. The evidence is frankly two people's testimonies, plus a other players (what did they hear exactly? It seems that 1) they didn't even remember the exact words Evra told them in the tunnel). Would this evidence stand up in a court of law? If not, what gives the FA the right to act in such a way? This is really the key point in my eyes.

  • Comment number 83.

    I cannot resist commenting about Suarez. The FA seems to be saying: "It is OK if you prepare for a game learning a few choice expressions in Spanish about your opponent's sister. It is OK to call him "sudaca". And if he reacts by calling you black, since you are French and the other guy is from Uruguay, we will back you to the hilt". Bravo.

  • Comment number 84.

    @ 12: since racism has come up already, it might be pertinent to note that, although cheating in football has tended to be considered a 'Latin' thing, my first memories of players rolling around in apparent agony as if they'd been poleaxed, then jumping up and taking the kick, relate to German players.
    @ 7: you attack Tim as if he were defending racism, although his article was written prior to the facts of the case being known and merely pleaded for a sense of proportion in the handling of the case. He wasn't defending the notion that cultural differences justify racism, or cheating, but merely for people to maintain a sense of perspective. I am sure we can all agree that an awful lot of rubbish is spewed in the name of political correctness and that we will only move beyond this when colour doesn't matter at all. We should all draw a line under this issue and refuse to go through life being defined as a colour! The key is mutual respect!!!

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    Also Eduard @ 74 the second paragraph of my post @70 was not meant as a defence of the FA but rather as an indication of the mindset that might make them pull the video. It is this same mindset that Liverpool appear to have argued is behind the FA's decision to charge Suarez.

  • Comment number 87.

    RantingMP
    @62

    We should not trivialize racism by lumping it together with other forms of discrimination, deserving as they are of attention themselves, but obviously lacking in the historical precedents of horrific, violent discrimination that racism has visited on humanity.

    Of course the fight against racism will be long and hard: as recently as 2005, the FA itself was caught out when it released the DVD "The Pride of the Nation", celebrating England's best players of the previous 40 years - and there wasn't a single black player in the list that made the final edit of the film. The DVDs were recalled and the FA apologised after the incident. It goes further: a look at the game in England shows that, despite the large numbers of Black players in the game, few of them are tapped to become managers after retiring, and fewer still ever make it to the boards of their former football clubs.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Your posting is what I expect from a crusader, where any action taken is justifiable. in order to achieve their aim. The crusader's action will forever carry the tag 'the end justifies the means' Both you and the FA are justifying their actions to further a cause.

    'historical precedents of horrific, violent discrimination' can be written for the rise of National Socialism in the 20/30's. To mention Suarez in the same paragraph is disgusting and shows a complete lack of understanding, for the issue.

    Your second point, regarding the omission of black players from an FA DVD would have some merit, if it was a historical DVD on the FA and football itself. Example, one would expect to see a celebration of the first black player to break through the ranks for England. The DVD was intended to highlight the best players for England, if none of them are black, it does not mean, there is a racist element in the production. It simply means, that no black players were thought to be good enough for inclusion at the time.

    To included black players in a DVD to purely justify some cause, would be positive discrimination [also illegal] and equally as harmful as negative discrimination.

    I personally do not care if Suarez is guilty or not of the alledged offences. What is worrying, is a man's character can be destroyed, by the FA, without any thought or care, for the due process of the laws of this country.

    The alledged offence should have been dealt with by the police. If there was a case,%2

  • Comment number 88.

    @81 I would not be too hard on those who have not read the report.

    Apparently (and I only have this second hand) the sports minister, interviewed on Sky at weekend encouraged everyone to read the report to see how the commission had rightly found Suarez guilty of an "insidious" act.

    Later on in the interview he had to admit that he would not be reading the report himself until he returned to his desk on Tuesday morning.

    You could not make it up (I hope!!)

  • Comment number 89.

    On the matter of Neymar, any judgements based on the person of 18 months ago are very much out of date. Neymar has matured enormously in this time, not only because a lot of growing up takes place between 17 and 19, but also presumably because he's got some sensible people around him giving him advice. The key is for him to retain the boyish cheakiness that inspires him to such creativeness on the pitch and gives him such enjoyment of the game, while acting maturely in other respects. Ronaldinho is a player I shall always be grateful to, because he restored the joy to the game when it was in serious danger of becoming turgid and cynical. But somewhere along the way he lost his own joy of playing the game, and with it went a lot of his ability to illuminate matches. Let's hope Neymar (who offers similar potential) can avoid that pitfall. He has signed a contract with Santos that takes him till after the 2014 WC, but 2012 is the critical year. The club is celebrating its centenary year and will be defending its Libertadores title and trying to have another crack at the World Club Championship. The results of these endeavours will define his future in Brazil, I believe. What further complicates the issue is that Neymar is carrying the hopes of South American football (which gives FAR more weight to the rivalry with Europe than Europeans feel towards S.Am.) for restoring some of the balance between the respective leagues and bringing to an end the automatic conveyor belt of talent from S.Am. to Europe (at an ever younger age). That is a heavy burden for such young shoulders!

  • Comment number 90.

    Racism is wrong and Suarez got punished for it. Maybe 4 matches with 4 suspended for future behavioural conduct would have been fairer. I don't think Suarez is racist but he needs to understand other cultures and just be careful.
    Saying that Evra does seem to provoke him by mentioning "the sister" so should be punished also. No smoke without fire as they say.

  • Comment number 91.

    80.At 12:06 3rd Jan 2012, DUBLINVIEW wrote:
    ___________

    Yeah I think those types of insults have to be addressed and some form of punishment dealt out. But I think they need to provide guidelines / codes of conduct first, and an 8 game ban? That seems a bit harsh when leg breakers can be a maximum of 3 games ban. Something is not quite right there. And I have to agree with you, I don't see where they have found the authority to hand out these punishments, let alone base it on a pleyer's testimony.
    DUBLINVIEW, it may help others on here discussing the suarez/evra case to provide a link for the official FA report. It may clear up and issues they have.
    @ The sports minister, I didn't see it but wish I had. Another faux par from the Gov!

  • Comment number 92.

    I have 8 and 5 year old boys playing football for a local team during which time i've seen plenty of kids from the age of u7 to u17 playing week in week out.

    They are in the main, talented to the point were i saw NO diffrence between them and children from a number of European nations including Holland, Spain and Italy in a international competition that our U12 undertook in amsterdam during last summer, narrowly losing in the final.

    For me something is lost in the transition between playing the game at small local clubs and in in parks, and professinal football clubs. After all the talk and shuffling the clubs are STILL in the main turning the kids into running jumping robots.

    We even had a child that was rejected at a pro club i'll not mention for kids who were inferior to him in every department but voice. No joke, he was rejected because he "wasn't vocal enough"

    The child is 7 years old. I'd laugh if it wasn't so criminal.

  • Comment number 93.

    Casting the suarez/evra topic aside, I've always been fascinated by the lack of brazlians that have "made it" in the prem. Bar lucas, ramires and edu, I can't really think of anymore?
    It's just a surprise because I read that brazil has gone down the english avenue somewhat of choosing the more physically adept players over the smaller ones. Given the similarities, you would have thought these shores would have more of a brazilian contingent?

  • Comment number 94.

    @ 16: while I disagree that Brazil's resources are as weak as you suggest, I do agree about the WC 2014 concerns. It may have been a relief for Dunga to step down after SA, since the person given the mandate to dispell the nightmare of 1950 and land the trophy in 2014 - while also restoring to Brazil's play the enchantment of the 1970 and 1982 sides - finds himself faced with an almost impossible task. Brazil will be among the favourites, as usual, but any one of half a dozen sides could win the trophy and success in football is a fragile thing. Spain are likely to be the front runners, but does that guarantee them even a semi-final place - of course not. Mano Menezes will be criticised whatever he does - that is the only certainty regarding 2014, I fear.

  • Comment number 95.

    The FA are on a political crusade to 'appear' to fight racism.

    The FA is of course the same FA who sells tickets to England fans who sing songs about the war, who boo every other countries national anthem. Racism or Xenophobia? The same FA that crucifies Blatter yet proudly remembers Stanley Rous.

    Xenophobia is rife throughout English football and is a far bigger problem (in England) than racism.

    Working within a fairly multicultural environment I have quickly learned that various nuances in language and culture can easily become confused and/or misinterpreted.

    There has still (to the best of my knowledge) been no video evidence and/or evidence from witnesses regarding what may or may not have been said by Mr Evra and Mr Suarez. The case is clearly one man's word against the other. However the case has been judged with a preconceived notion that 'we must fight racism'. The FA would never admit that they couldn't judge the case due to lack of evidence as they would have been crucified by the media.

    What should have been done is for both players to have been brought together and apologise to each other and then to use them and the two biggest clubs in England that they play for to be the faces of an anti racism and anti xenophobia message. Sadly the FA took the easy way out and played the political game.

  • Comment number 96.

  • Comment number 97.

    RantingMp
    @72

    As you can see from the responses on this issue right here, racism in sport - especially in football - is a problem we'd rather not see, no talk about, not hear about - especially here in England. Perhaps the rather tribal support of football teams makes matters worse: Evra is a United player complaining about a Liverpool player, so it is a high-profile issue (while the very pertinent and similar case of a Chelsea player using racist language towards a QPR player simmers on low heat in the background).
    But there is no shortage of fans, players, managers, and sports journalists who will see no evil where racism is concerned - and who will happily bury their heads in the sand and blame "cultural differences" even in blatant, open-and-shut cases of racism.
    You only have to read blogs like those at the BBC website, and scroll down to the comments, to see manifestations of this.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    No one is burying their heads in sand.

    Those of us that believe in justice are equally opposed to racism of any kind.

    In a fair and just society, it does no good having laws to protect people, if the legal system is ignored. The day we find it acceptable to have mini courts set up by bodies such as the FA to judge criminal matters, is a day when justice is lost.

    You wrote earlier that racial discrimination, was the worst form of discrimination. Any form of discrimination is wrong and all can have the same effect.

    As I said earlier 'kick racism out of football' is a noble and worthy cause, with good intent. The FA are not part of the legal system of this country, therefore it is not in their remit to judge a criminal matter.

    There is a reason, why our courts are independent and are thankfully not governed by the likes of politicians with a cause. JUSTICE and it needs to remain impartial to be fair.

    The FA charged the player, formed the panel with one of it's own members sitting on the panel, judged and then handed out it's own punishment. Can we really call that justice of any kind?

    Many say Suarez has to abide by the laws of Britain if he wants to ply his trade here. Which is totally correct BUT Suarez has the same rights as anyone who resides in this country. That includes the right to a fair and just trial if he is accused of a criminal act.

    Our country progressed because an integral part of our system was built on j

  • Comment number 98.

    I´m in Brazil until mid-Jan and saw on TV yesterday a compilation of Neymar´s top 20 goals. They were pretty special but I do wonder how many of them he could have scored in Europe as the defending was ropey to say the least.
    Great goals though.

  • Comment number 99.

    What should have been done is for both players to have been brought together and apologise to each other and then to use them and the two biggest clubs in England that they play for to be the faces of an anti racism and anti xenophobia message.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Use the face of a player who's admitted using racist language as the face for an anti-racism campaign?

    Maybe football should use Terry and Giggs for an anti-adultery campaign as well?

  • Comment number 100.

    @88 Spot on bout the journos, I suspected you meant them but couldn't resist the chance to get the Sports Minister story in!

 

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