Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and manager Kenny Dalglish apologized after the Uruguayan forward refused to shake hands with Manchester United’s Patrice Evra before their Premier League soccer match two days ago.
In the first meeting between the two players since Suarez was suspended for eight games for racially abusing Evra in an October match, the Liverpool striker walked past the Frenchman during the pre-match handshakes at Old Trafford and then shrugged off Evra’s attempt to grab his arm.
“I have spoken with the manager since the game at Old Trafford and I realize I got things wrong,” Suarez said in a statement yesterday on Liverpool’s website. “I’ve not only let him down, but also the club and what it stands for and I’m sorry. I made a mistake and I regret what happened.”
In a separate statement, Liverpool Managing Director Ian Ayre said the club was “extremely disappointed” that Suarez had misled officials, claiming that he had said beforehand that he would not snub Evra.
“He was wrong to mislead us and wrong not to offer his hand to Patrice Evra,” Ayre said. “He has not only let himself down, but also Kenny Dalglish, his teammates and the club. It has been made absolutely clear to Luis Suarez that his behavior was not acceptable.”
Suarez was making his first start since returning from his ban. He was found guilty of misconduct by an Independent Regulatory Commission and warned about his future behavior after using “insulting words” toward Evra, including a reference to the player’s race, during a 1-1 tie at Anfield on Oct. 15.
Suarez scored for Liverpool in its 2-1 loss to United two days ago after Wayne Rooney got both goals for the home team.
Dalglish said yesterday that he was “shocked to hear” that Suarez had not shaken Evra’s hand. He also apologized for his own conduct in a post-match television interview with Sky Sports, during which he said the interviewer was “bang out of order” for asking about Suarez’s actions.
“All of us have a responsibility to represent this club in a fit and proper manner,” Dalglish said. “I did not conduct myself in a way befitting of a Liverpool manager during that interview and I’d like to apologize for that.”
Following the match, United manager Alex Ferguson called Suarez “a disgrace” in a television interview and suggested he should never play for Liverpool again. Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, told the British Broadcasting Corp. that Suarez’s conduct had been “disrespectful, inappropriate and embarrassing.”
United, which won a record 19th English league title last season to move one ahead of Liverpool, yesterday thanked its rival for the apologies.
“Everyone at Old Trafford wants to move on from this,” the statement on United’s website read. “The history of our two great clubs is one of success and rivalry unparalleled in British football.”