Luis Suarez defence damages Liverpool reputation - Jason Roberts

By Simon AustinBBC Sport

Liverpool could damage their reputation if they continue to insist Luis Suarez is not guilty of racist abuse, says Blackburn striker Jason Roberts.

Suarez was for racially abusing Patrice Evra.

Liverpool decided not to appeal against the ban but defending the player.

Roberts said: "Liverpool's stance of saying he's done nothing wrong goes against the spirit of our league. When you read the report, it's quite ugly."

An independent Football Association commission ruled that Suarez, 24, had racially abused Evra during a 1-1 draw between Liverpool and Manchester United in October.

The commission's report stated that the Uruguayan striker had used the term "negro" seven times in around two minutes and criticised him for providing "unreliable" and "inconsistent" evidence at the hearing.

Liverpool decided not to appeal against Suarez's ban, but issued a statement saying it was their "strongly held conviction... that the Football Association and the panel it selected constructed a highly subjective case... based on an accusation that was ultimately unsubstantiated".

Roberts, who has campaigned for Kick It Outexternal-link, told BBC Sport: "Liverpool must think long and hard about how they are perceiving this.

"They are a proud club with lots of fans of different cultures and nationalities and it's important to think about how they would feel about being treated in the same way.

"Knowing people are from different nationalities and have different cultures is an important part of building your brand. You also have to know that players certainly don't accept being spoken to in that way."

Suarez and Liverpool claimed "negro" was a commonly used term in the striker's homeland of Uruguay and that it was often used affectionately there.

But Roberts, who received an MBE in 2010 for his services to sport in Grenada, added: "To use those words in that tone and context is certainly not acceptable in our leagues.

"It's not good enough to say, 'It's OK where I come from, so we do it here'. That's not the way we judge our society or the Premier League. They were ugly scenes and I'm worried that kids would have seen this.

"This is something that has to be told to everyone - it's not tolerated, especially in our leagues, as diverse as they are."

Roberts, 33, said foreign players needed to be better educated about what was and was not acceptable in England.

He added: "He [Suarez] should have been educated, that's certainly something that's come out of this.

"If you're going to come and play in the Premier League and live in our society, it's important that you understand the rules we abide by.

"Anyone who understands the culture here knows you wouldn't use those words, certainly not in the context in which they were used."

Roberts also said he was concerned that Evra had been forgotten during the whole affair.

"I'm more worried about how Patrice Evra has felt about the whole thing," he said.

"Not enough people have spoken about him and the issues he went through. Yes, he said some things back to Suarez and there was an argument, but he would have felt incensed by what was said and rightly so."