France international and former Manchester United defender, Patrice Evra in an interview with The Times, recounted an incident when Luis Suarez called him a negro and told him he doesn’t speak to blacks.
The incident occurred in 2011 and is one of the most infamous cases of racial abuse in modern football.
Recounting the story Evra remembered what went through his mind during the incident and the events of its immediate aftermath.
Evra said; “When we played Liverpool away on October 15, 2011, we were expecting our usual hard game at a ground where United had struggled to get results. The score was 0-0 after 58 minutes when Luis Suarez kicked me on the knee.
‘A few minutes later, Liverpool were awarded a corner and Suarez came close to me in the United area. “F***ing hell, why did you kick me?” I asked him in Spanish. “Because you’re black,” Suarez replied in Spanish, I couldn’t believe what he had said. ” Say that to me again,” I said, “and I’ll kick you.” “I don’t speak to blacks,” he replied. I was angry. “Okay, I think now I’m going to punch you,” I told him.
“Okay, negro, negro, negro,” he repeated. As he spoke, he pinched my left forearm. The referee, Andre Marriner, stopped play and Suárez called me a negro again. A lot of things went through my mind. My first thought was: If I punch him, then kids around the world will see me, and I know I’m a role model.’
Following this, Marriner said they would deal with it after the game, but Suarez and Evra continued to argue on-field until the referee separated them. Following the game, when Evra told some teammates (Nani, Anderson, Antonio Valencia, and Javier Hernandez) what had happened, they suggested he go to Sir Alex Ferguson.
Evra said: ‘Sir Alex Ferguson could see I was really down and he asked me why. “I heard Suárez call me a negro,” I said. “Really?” Ferguson said. “Yes, I’m sure,” I said. “Then we have to see the referee so that he can include it in his report,” the manager said.
‘We went to Marriner in the referee’s room and Ferguson said, “Evra has been called a n****r by one of the Liverpool players.”
‘I then gave my account and Ferguson said he wanted to make a formal complaint. Marriner asked Phil Dowd, the fourth official, to make notes of the conversation. He said he would include it in his official report.’
Damien Comolli and Kenny Dalglish, the then Liverpool director of football strategy and manager, heard about the incident from Ray Haughan, a Liverpool administrator. Comolli then proceeded to get Suarez’s side of the incident.
In his report, the Uruguay International admitted to using the word “negro” but insisted there had been a mistranslation and Suarez had not used the South American equivalent of the n-word.
The incident resulted in Suarez being found guilty of racially abusing Evra, and Suarez was subsequently banned by the FA for eight matches and fined £40,000.
Evra, now 40 years of age, won five Premier League titles during his time at Old Trafford. And went on to play for Juventus and West Ham after he left Man United.