Liverpool denies sponsor pressure over Suarez

Liverpool denies sponsor pressure over Suarez

LIVERPOOL - Agence France-Presse
Liverpool denies sponsor pressure over Suarez

Luiz Suarez has announced he is sorry for refusing to shake hands with Patrice Evra before a prior league game. AFP photo

Liverpool denied yesterday reports the club had apologized for Luis Suarez’s conduct at Old Trafford as a result of pressure from shirt sponsors Standered Chartered bank.

Uruguay striker Suarez sparked fresh uproar last weekend when he refused to shake the hand of Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, having only recently returned from an eight-game ban for racially abusing the French defender.

Liverpool subsequently apologized for Suarez’s conduct but, having steadfastly supported its forward up until that point, there were suspicions the team had been pressured into taking action by Standard Chartered, who is currently half-way through a four-year deal worth £81 million.

However, Liverpool insisted yesterday that managing director Ian Ayre and manager Kenny Dalglish had not been prompted by anyone from outside Anfield.

“Ian Ayre kept Standard Chartered fully informed of developments over the course of the weekend,” said a Liverpool statement. “The actions the club decided to take on Sunday were supported by Standard Chartered.”

‘Very disappointed’
A Standard Chartered statement on Feb. 12 said: “We were very disappointed by Saturday’s incident and have discussed our concerns with the club.”

It has been suggested the club’s American-based owners, Fenway Sports Group, only became fully aware of the severity of the Suarez situation when reports appeared in the US press.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson branded Suarez’s conduct ahead of Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat on Feb. 11 a disgrace, while Professional Footballers’ Association chief Gordon Taylor called the Liverpool star’s actions “disrespectful, inappropriate and embarrassing.”

Suarez finally showed some contrition in a statement expressing his regret for his actions.

“I have spoken with the manager (Kenny Dalglish) since the game at Old Trafford and I realise I got things wrong,” Suarez said on Liverpool’s official website last week. “I’ve not only let him down, but also the club and what it stands for and I’m sorry. I should have shaken Patrice Evra’s hand before the game.”

Ayre added: “We are extremely disappointed Luis Suarez did not shake hands with Patrice Evra before yesterday’s (Saturday’s) game. The player had told us beforehand that he would, but then chose not to do so,” 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 behaviour was not acceptable.”

And, later on Feb. 12, Dalglish said: “Ian Ayre has made the club’s position absolutely clear and it is right that Luis Suarez has now apologised for what happened at Old Trafford.

“To be honest, I was shocked to hear that the player had not shaken hands having been told earlier in the week that he would do.”