Luis Suarez & Liverpool statements in full
Liverpool have decided not to appeal against the eight-match ban handed to striker Luis Suarez for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in the 1-1 draw at Anfield in October.
The club and the Uruguay striker have released the following statements.
STATEMENT FROM LUIS SUAREZ
"First of all I would like to thank everyone so much for all the help and support I have received during these last few weeks.
"Thank you to my family, my friends and everybody at LFC (the staff, manager and coaching staff, the directors, my team-mates and everyone who is working on a daily basis for this great club) and thank you especially to all the fans who made sure I never felt let down for one second. During those days I understood more than ever what 'You'll Never Walk Alone' means.
“In my country, 'negro' is a word we use commonly, a word which doesn't show any lack of respect and is even less so a form of racist abuse”
"Like many of you I was born into a very humble family, in a working class neighbourhood, in a small country. But I was born and raised learning what respect, manners and sacrifice mean. Thanks to my family, from my first club where I started playing, to my transfer to Holland in Europe, I learned the values which made me the person I am now.
"Never, I repeat, never, have I had any racial problem with a team mate or individual who was of a different race or colour to mine. Never.
"I am very upset by all the things which have been said during the last few weeks about me, all of them being very far from the truth. But above all, I'm very upset at feeling so powerless whilst being accused of something which I did not, nor would not, ever do.
"In my country, 'negro' is a word we use commonly, a word which doesn't show any lack of respect and is even less so a form of racist abuse. Based on this, everything which has been said so far is totally false.
"I will carry out the suspension with the resignation of someone who hasn't done anything wrong and who feels extremely upset by the events.
"I do feel sorry for the fans and for my team-mates, whom I will not be able to help during the next month. It will be a very difficult time for me.
"The only thing I wish for at the moment is being able to run out again at Anfield and to do what I like most, which is playing football."
STATEMENT FROM LIVERPOOL
"It is our strongly held conviction that the Football Association and the panel it selected constructed a highly subjective case against Luis Suarez based on an accusation that was ultimately unsubstantiated.
"The FA and the panel chose to consistently and methodically accept and embrace arguments leading to a set of conclusions that found Mr Suarez to 'probably' be guilty, while in the same manner deciding to completely dismiss the testimony that countered their overall suppositions.
"Mr Evra was deemed to be credible in spite of admitting that he himself used insulting and threatening words towards Luis and that his initial charge as to the word used was somehow a mistake.
“English football has led the world in welcoming all nationalities and creeds into its Premier League and its leagues below, and Liverpool FC itself has been a leader in taking a progressive stance on issues of race and inclusion”
"The facts in this case were that an accusation was made, a rebuttal was given and there was video of the match. The remaining facts came from testimony of people who did not corroborate any accusation made by Mr Evra.
"In its determination to prove its conclusions to the public through a clearly subjective 115-page document, the FA panel has damaged the reputation of one the Premier League's best players, deciding he should be punished and banned for perhaps a quarter of a season.
"This case has also provided a template in which a club's rival can bring about a significant ban for a top player without anything beyond an accusation.
"Nevertheless, there are ultimately larger issues than whether or not Luis Suarez has been treated fairly by the FA in this matter. There are important points we want to make today that overshadow what has occurred during the past two months.
"The issue of race in sports, as in other industries, has a very poor history. Far too often, and in far too many countries, the issues of racism and discrimination have been covered over or ignored.
"In America, where Liverpool ownership resides, there was a shameful bigotry that prevented black athletes from competing at the highest levels for decades.
"English football has led the world in welcoming all nationalities and creeds into its Premier League and its leagues below, and Liverpool Football Club itself has been a leader in taking a progressive stance on issues of race and inclusion.
"The Luis Suarez case has to end so that the Premier League, the Football Association and the club can continue the progress that has been made and will continue to be made and not risk a perception, at least by some, that would diminish our commitment on these issues.
"Liverpool Football Club have supported Luis Suarez because we fundamentally do not believe that Luis on that day - or frankly any other - did or would engage in a racist act.
"Notably, his actions on and off the pitch with his team-mates and in the community have demonstrated his belief that all athletes can play together and that the colour of a person's skin is irrelevant.
"Continuing a fight for justice in this particular case beyond today would only obscure the fact that the club wholeheartedly supports the efforts of the Football Association, the Football League and the Premier League to put an end to any form of racism in English football.
"It is time to put the Luis Suarez matter to rest and for all of us, going forward, to work together to stamp out racism in every form both inside and outside the sport.
"It is for this reason that we will not appeal against the eight-game suspension of Luis Suarez."