Sunday, January 08, 2012

Arrest Made In Racism Row

A 20-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence after Oldham footballer Tom Adeyemi was allegedly abused by fans during an FA Cup game against Liverpool.

The man, from Aintree, is being questioned by officers from Merseyside Police who are investigating the incident which took place in the second half of the match at Anfield on Friday night.

Late in the FA Cup third-round fixture Adeyemi, a 20-year-old on loan at Oldham from Norwich, appeared to take offence at something shouted from the Kop.

A police spokesman said: "Merseyside Police can confirm that tonight a 20-year-old man from the Aintree area of Merseyside has been arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence following an incident at Anfield on Friday evening.

"The man is currently in custody being interviewed by detectives."

Liverpool, who won the match 5-1, said they are also investigating the incident.

The club issued a statement earlier on Saturday evening saying it was continuing to work closely with the police to establish the facts surrounding the incident.

Liverpool Are Not Soft On Racism - Barnes

John Barnes spoke out in defence of Liverpool Football Club on Saturday, telling ESPN that the Merseyside club are no more racist than any other in the country.

Liverpool have seen their reputation damaged by the drawn-out Luis Suarez saga, which has seen the Reds defend their player despite a guilty verdict of racial abuse delivered by the FA. Kenny Dalglish and his men have been extremely public in their defence of the Uruguayan, wearing t-shirts to show support, which has drawn widespread criticism.

Compounding the issue is an incident that took place during their FA Cup third round win against Oldham, when Tom Adeyemi was reduced to tears by an alleged moment of racist abuse from a section of the Anfield crowd. A police investigation has since been launched, and while Barnes believes there will prove to have been a racial element to the incident, he insists racism is not only Liverpool's problem.

"I have no doubt that somebody hurled racist abuse at him, and it really hasn't come at a good time for Liverpool. However, I'm not naive enough to think incidents like this don't happen at pitches across the country every Saturday," Barnes told ESPN.

"I for one never believed that racism ever went away. I wouldn't say it happens at Liverpool more than anywhere else. The fact that he heard it means there is an investigation and Liverpool will co-operate fully."

Liverpool confirmed in a statement on Saturday that they will aid the police probe, saying on their official website: "Liverpool Football Club continue to work closely with Merseyside Police to establish all the facts surrounding the incident that occurred during last night's game.

"We take this matter extremely seriously and have today provided the police with the evidence we currently have available to us. This includes CCTV coverage and still photography of what we believe to be the relevant part of the stadium, statements from matchday stewards in that area and full access to all the footage captured by the cameras filming the match for our in-house TV operation."

The general consensus, certainly in parts of the British media, appears to be that Liverpool have failed to react in the right manner by defending Suarez following his clash with Patrice Evra. However, Barnes does not believe his former club have done anything wrong.

"Unfortunately for Liverpool, the perception is that Liverpool are being soft on racism. That is far from the reality," Barnes said. "If you want to talk about the Luis Suarez incident, the perception is that because Liverpool didn't castigate him, they are condoning it. The reality is they firmly believe Suarez is innocent, so while they don't accept the punishment, they don't agree with the verdict.

"They think the verdict was flawed, and they are backing Luis Suarez 100 per cent. Suarez himself feels he's done nothing wrong, in terms of the word he said, he also says there are things he didn't say, the claim that he does not talk to black people he says he 100% did not say.

"Liverpool has to be seen to be backing him if they believe that is the case."

Howard Wilkinson Can Help Make The Peace Between Liverpool & Manchester United

A wise old head is needed to calm the growing tensions between Sir Alex Ferguson and Kenny Dalglish and their teams in the wake of the Suarez/Evra race row.

Forget the Manchester derby for a moment and consider this: how do you extract the bile from the Manchester Ship Canal in the wake of Luis Suarez racially abusing Patrice Evra?

All this ancient and modern poison flowing back and forth between Anfield and Old Trafford is so damaging to the reputations of two distinguished FOOTBALL clubs, although primarily to Liverpool, that an intermediary is required, somebody trusted by Kenny Dalglish and Sir Alex Ferguson. Somebody of Howard Wilkinson’s stature.

Both Dalglish and Ferguson would answer his phone-call and might even heed his call. Managers respect Wilkinson, who understands the job’s many pressures from time spent at Notts County, Sheffield Wednesday, Leeds United, Sunderland and even with England as caretaker.

Wilkinson might be able to organize a rapprochement between Dalglish and Ferguson, bringing some calm to a heated situation between their clubs.

Somebody of substance within the game needs to talk to both managers, who risk their dugouts turning into trenches for the Feb 11 game at Old Trafford. Tension has always clung to these Manchester United-Liverpool matches, the dislike rooted in their cities’ past industrial competition as well as long-standing footballing feuding.

Supporters fling abuse at each other, revelling in their tribalism, taunting each other over tragedies that have befallen their great clubs. The onus is mainly on Liverpool, of course.

They are the ones whose image needs rehabilitating post-Suarez and again after club and police launched an investigation into claims that a fan racially abused Oldham Athletic’s Tom Adeyemi at Anfield on Friday. If true, the fan has to be banned for life from Anfield while the full weight of the law descends on the individual. As Oldham’s captain Dean Furman says it’s an “absolute disgrace”.

Liverpool need to spread the message of their commitment to social-inclusion programmes, which has brought them an award from Lord Herman Ouseley, chair of the Kick It Out campaign.

Clearly more needs to be done. As Liverpool tackle their internal issues, it would help the game generally if some bridges were built over the Manchester Ship Canal.

It needs stressing again that rivalry is healthy but hatred is unhealthy. The Suarez case has intensified the friction. Liverpool’s failure to apologize exacerbates the original offence.

Ditto Suarez (properly to Evra). The Uruguayan returns from his eight-match suspension against Spurs on Feb 6 and is sure to start the following match at Old Trafford.

A sub-plot threatens to eclipse the main football drama. The cameras will zoom in on the handshake moment with Evra, let alone every touch of the Uruguayan during the game, every time he comes into proximity with United’s left-back.

Good luck to the television sound man attempting to cut out the fans’ more acerbic chants.

Fixated by an astonishing Premier League season, hundreds of millions of people around the world will be tuning in, the 12.45 kick-off time a particular joy to followers of English football in the Far East.

Every effort must be made to ensure the spectacle is a celebration of football and fans’ fervour without falling into the abyss of enmity.

All police leave will have long been cancelled. All lines of communication between the boards will have been encouraged by the authorities, both footballing and civil.

But it is down to Ferguson and Dalglish to set a more civilized tone with their pre-match pronouncements. Wilkinson could help that. Blessed are the peacemakers.

McLeish - Reds Not Chasing Bent

Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish says he has been told by Liverpool counterpart Kenny Dalglish the Reds are not interested in signing Darren Bent.

McLeish was speaking after watching his side reach the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 3-1 victory at Bristol Rovers.

England striker Bent, 27, who joined Villa from Sunderland a year ago, has been linked with a move away, with Liverpool reportedly among the favourites, and he played in Saturday night's win at the Memorial Stadium.

McLeish has insisted that the player will not be sold, but rumours have persisted.

However, the former Birmingham manager, who is also hopeful of completing a short-term loan deal for Los Angeles Galaxy striker Robbie Keane within the next 48 hours despite what he described as "red tape" holding up the move, says that no-one he has spoken to, including Dalglish, has expressed an interest in Bent.

Of the continued speculation, McLeish said: "It's not frustrating, it's just the transfer window.

"People like to speculate and use social networking sites and they are having a field day.

"If there is anybody out there that wants him they certainly haven't contacted me and Darren has said on the record he wants to stay at the club.

"Whenever I have asked anyone outside the club I've been told flatly 'No'.

"I have spoken to Kenny and he said there was nothing in it."

Eric Abidal Courted By Liverpool & Manchester City

Eric Abidal is a free transfer target for both Liverpool and Manchester City as he approaches the end of his Barcelona contract.

The France international's current deal is scheduled to expire at the end of the season and he is now entitled to speak to other clubs about a summer move.

Barcelona has offered him a two-year contract extension, but with a number of major European clubs interested, the defender has asked for time to think about his future, reports L'Equipe.

AC Milan has already confirmed they are ready to hand the 32-year-old a three-year deal, but there is also interest from England.

Liverpool and Manchester City have apparently made Abidal aware they are keen, although they have not yet made formal offers.

Both clubs signed players - Jose Enrique and Gael Clichy - who play in the Barca star's preferred position of left-back last summer, but the chance to bring in an experienced international who can cover across the back four is still an attractive prospect to them.

Abidal has previously indicated he would like to stay at Barcelona, as he is thankful for the way they stood by him after he was diagnosed with a liver tumour last season.

£30m Suarez Race

Liverpool’s bad-boy Luis Suarez is Europe’s £30million wanted man.

Top clubs on the continent are queuing up to offer the Uruguayan ace, currently serving an eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra, an escape route from his Premier League hell.

La Liga leaders Real Madrid, loaded French outfit Paris St-Germain and Serie A giants Inter Milan and Juventus would all be interested in taking Suarez, 25 later this month, away from Anfield in the summer.

And that means Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish is bracing himself for a major battle to keep hold of his inspirational striker beyond this season.

Although publicly the Reds insist Suarez a £24m signing from Ajax this time last year, is not going anywhere, privately it is a very different story.

There are growing fears inside the club that the furore surrounding the player’s racist clash with Man United defender Evra back in October will drive him out of the English game.

Last week Liverpool opted not to appeal the lengthy ban meted out on Suarez by the FA – in a desperate effort to stem the huge criticism being levelled at both themselves and their hitman.

The club’s unwavering support of Suarez – also fined £40,000 over the Evra incident – and his refusal to say sorry directly to the French left-back, has caused uproar in the game.

The fact Liverpool allowed their players and manager to wear T-shirts backing Suarez, even though the case with Evra was still ongoing, angered observers.

Now, when he returns next month, against Spurs on February 6, it seems inevitable Suarez, with 12 goals in 33 Liverpool games, will be targeted with non-stop stick by rival supporters.

Five days later, Liverpool travel to Old Trafford to face United for what is sure to be an explosive clash on and off the pitch.

Yet, while Suarez expects to be on the receiving end from United fans, it will be the level of abuse he gets at other grounds for the rest of the season that will decide whether he feels he has a future in England.

Mark Lawrenson, a friend and ex-Liverpool colleague of Kop boss Dalglish, believes the Reds face a crucial few months trying to hang on to Suarez.

BBC pundit Lawro said: “If you are Liverpool what you don’t want to do is put Suarez in a position where he thinks he can’t possibly continue to play in England.

“From that point of view, they have to be very, very careful in terms of what, going forward, they do with Luis.

Lussey Derails Crewe

Jordan Lussey netted a late winner as Liverpool U18s won their first game of 2012 with a 1-0 success over Crewe Alexandra on Saturday morning.

Mike Marsh's side, who had striker Jordan Ibe making his debut, had to work hard for their victory in a match played out in a gale force wind.

Lussey found the net six minutes from time when he found space just outside the box and his shot took a wicked deflection on its way into the net.

It was only the young Reds second win on home turf in 2011-12 and this will give them confidence for the rest of the campaign.

Crewe was unfortunate not to take anything from the game but Reds stopper Tyrell Belford pulled off two superb saves.