After retiring earlier this week, former Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra has done an interview with the Daily Mail in which he reflects on a shocking incident that saw him racially abused during a meeting with Liverpool.
The French defender accused ex-Liverpool striker Luis Suarez of repeatedly calling him ‘negro’ during a Premier League encounter at Anfield.
Suarez admitted to using the world but insisted it was not in a racist context…
He got off lightly with an eight-game ban and fined just £40,000.
We still have a problem with racism in football and the above ‘punishment’ may suggest why — given it was so lenient.
Let’s not forget when the two clubs met again, in February 2012, Suarez ignored Evra’s handshake in the pre-match presentation.
At the beginning of the interview with Evra, he reflects on the aftermath of the incident when his allegations against Suarez led to death threats.
“I received a lot of letters of death,” Evra told the Daily Mail’s Oliver Holt. “For months, I had a security car parked outside my house in Alderley Edge 24 hours a day. It wasn’t easy for my family but I grew up on tough streets in Les Ulis so for me it was like something normal. But maybe for another person, it was crazy. Even my brother was saying ‘Be careful’ when we were out in the car.
“I don’t know if Suarez is a racist. I don’t know his family. I don’t know his background. But racism is so big for so many years and that day, there was racist abuse.”
“So when we went to the hearing. They listened to me because I said I didn’t want them to punish him and I don’t know him close enough to say he is racist but he used that racist word.
“I don’t hate him. I never hated him. I wanted to punch him at the time but for me to hate someone is impossible.
“I don’t have hate in my heart. I can react but hate is a strong word for me. When I was asked to pick a team of my best players, I named Suarez as one of my XI.”
Liverpool’s out of touch response to the race row didn’t help.
It made the situation tribal, our clan against yours.
There’s no word on what Evra plans to do next now that his playing days are over, though I have a feeling he will spend some time on our TV screens before dipping back into football.
It helps that he not only has a good football brain, but Evra would make for a great TV personality.
Evra would certainly be an upgrade on Thierry Henry.