The rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United got a little uglier after Liverpool forward Luis Suarez was found guilty of racial abuse.
Suarez was fined £40,000 and banned for 8 matches. Liverpool responded by suggesting that Patrice Evra, the complainant and United defender was "not credible". Their implication is that he misled the FA tribunal.
Suarez is understood to have admitted to calling Evra a "negro", but the substance of his defence seems to have been that, in his native Uruguay, the word does not carry any racial offence.
Far from imposing any internal disciplinary measures, Liverpool and the manager Kenny Dalglish remain resolute in their support for Suarez. The club issued a statement that was very strongly worded:
"It is our strong belief, having gone over the facts of the case, that Luis Suárez did not commit any racist act. It is also our opinion that the accusation by this particular player was not credible – certainly no more credible than his prior unfounded accusations."
This was the Liverpool legal team’s trump card, a reference to a 2008 case in which Evra was banned for four matches after a dispute with a Chelsea groundsman. Evra’s evidence in that instance was described by the FA as "exaggerated and unreliable".
Liverpool will consider an appeal against the verdict or the punishment, and Suarez will be free to play in the interim. The club’s concern must be that the sanction will now have a profound effect on the player’s morale and form, after a brilliant start to his career at Anfield.