Liverpool were on a collision course with the FA today after directly challenging the governing body over their handling of Luis Suarez’s racism charge.
The Uruguay international was given an eight-match ban and £40,000 fine after an independent regulatory commission found him guilty of abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.
However, Liverpool, who have fully supported the 24-year-old ever since the issue came to light after the 1-1 draw with United on October 15, have come out fighting in their response to the punishment.
And there is a feeling within Anfield there has been a witch hunt to punish Suarez, whose defence was based on claims he was unaware language that is acceptable in Uruguay is viewed as racist in Europe.
“It appears to us the FA were determined to bring charges against Luis Suarez, even before interviewing him at the beginning of November,” said a club statement.
“Nothing we have heard in the course of the hearing has changed our view that Luis Suarez is innocent of the charges brought against him and we will provide Luis with whatever support he now needs to clear his name.
“We would also like to know when the FA intend to charge Patrice Evra with making abusive remarks to an opponent after he admitted himself in his evidence to insulting Luis Suarez in Spanish in the most objectionable of terms.”
Liverpool, who are awaiting the written verdict with interest, will almost certainly appeal within the 14 days they have to do so and Suarez’s punishment has been suspended until that decision has been made.
Suarez himself spoke through Twitter, saying: “Today is a very difficult and painful day for both me and my family. Thanks for all the support, I’ll keep working.
“I’m upset by the accusations of racism. I can only say that I have always respected and respect everybody.”
His manager Kenny Dalglish also used the social networking site to say: “Very disappointed with today’s verdict. This is the time when Luis needs our full support.”
There are number of issues officials at the Merseyside club are unhappy about, including the different manner in which both players were interviewed and their belief about the way Suarez has been convicted on Evra’s account alone with no corroborating evidence.
“We find it extraordinary that Luis can be found guilty on the word of Patrice Evra alone when no-one else on the field of play – including Evra’s own Manchester United team-mates and all the match officials – heard the alleged conversation between the two players in a crowded Kop goalmouth while a corner kick was about to be taken,” continued the statement.
“It is our strong held belief, having gone over the facts of the case, that Luis Suarez did not commit any racist act.”
Liverpool vice-captain Jamie Carragher may currently be unable to win back his place in the first team, but manager Kenny Dalglish believes the experienced defender’s influence is still being felt on the pitch.
Dalglish believes the team are working harder defensively and thinks his current first-choice centre-backs Martin Skyrtel and Daniel Agger have both benefited from playing alongside Carragher.
“I don’t think they have ever looked a bad pair but the both of them are playing very well,” said the Scot.
“They know how to play. Jamie being beside them when they came in at first has been a fantastic help to them, as he has been for a lot of people here.