01 January 2012

Luis Suarez: Balancing the Probabilities

It's hard work being a Liverpool supporter these days. During the Benitez era, most of us were forced to take crash courses in the merits of posession/pressing football and zonal marking. Well, at least the ones who actually bothered defending the Liverpool manager against the seemingly countless bumbling buffoons schooled in football by the likes of Andy Gray and Richard Keys.

The knowledge proved beneficial when gauging the Spaniard's replacement. It made it easy to see that Roy Hodgson was clearly out of his depth, even if the press and the LMA were telling us the exact opposite. Give him more time, eh? Bah...

Then, as the club was dragged through the courts and financial circles by Hicks and Gillet, we again had to don our thinking caps and devour all the legal/financial mumbo-jumbo just so we could better understand what was happening with our beloved LFC.

If anything else, the whole farce makes us appreciate John Henry and what he has done for the club to date.

Now, just as things appear to have calmed down a bit, Liverpool supporters are once again faced with the prospect of getting out their reading glasses, highlighters and digging out the number of their nearest lawyer friend or relative.

On New Year's eve, the FA issued their much awaited full written statement explaining the reasons as to how and why Luis Suarez was charged with using abusive language towards Patrice Evra.

Although not a court of law, the burden of providing proof of the alleged offence still remained with the FA's Commission and Suarez's accusers. In this case, all they needed to do (according to the FA's own rules) was to prove that there there was a probability that Suarez actually commited the alleged offence. Probable, that's all.

The problem with this is firstly, the Commission didn't need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Suarez actually used abusive language, just probably did it and secondly, it falls foul of the FA's own rules on the matter. The written statement itself asserts that the FA and Commission agree that Suarez's alleged offence was a serious matter and on that basis, warrants a greater burden of evidence. Yet, this doesn't seem to have been the case when the Commission concluded that Suarez actually did commit the alleged offence. No real evidence. Just one man's word against another and a whole host of probabilities.

It gets even more interesting when looking at the facts. The report appears quick to point out that language experts were used in making the decision. Although I'm no expert on language experts and therefore don't have any evidence to the contrary, I just find it strange that both experts utilised are affiliated with the University of Manchester. Both. Manchester. As is in Manchester United. But hey, there's also Manchester City...?

I'm not saying that the two experts aren't totally independent and free from bias but isn't there a probability that they aren't to start off with. Surely, these two can't be the only South American Castellano Spanish language experts in the whole of England?

And then, there's the evidence itself. Although it's made out to be a clear conclusion from the experts (by the Commission and the media), when one reads the report in detail, it's clear that their findings are itself based on assumptions and again, probabilities.

Then, there's the fact that not one other United player heard Suarez using racially abusive language towards Evra especially when video evidence showed that the likes of David De Gea (clearly a native Spanish speaker who would've understood what was being said) was only an earshot away from where one of the alleged incidents happened. Was this seriously taken into account?

Probably not.

As a result, Luis Suarez remains guilty of an offence he probably did commit. Or was that probably not?

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