Football

Jamie Carragher Apologises To Patrice Evra Over "Massive Mistake" Of Suarez T-Shirts

It feels like a long time ago now. There's a sense it would been easy for Sky Sports to ignore the elephant in the room last night when Patrice Evra was a guest on Monday Night Football. The elephant wasn't quite taking up the same space as it was in 2011.

Instead, they didn't ignore it and instead had an interesting conversation, with Jamie Carragher offering a long overdue explanation for how the Liverpool manager and squad fell in line to support their teammate, who had racially abused the then Manchester United player Evra. Carragher described himself as lacking the "courage" to stand up against the decision.

In October 2011, Luis Suarez was accused of racially abusing Evra during a 1-1 draw between the two teams at Anfield. The Uruguayan denied the allegation, but eventually handed an eight-match ban by the FA in December.

The response from Liverpool, under Kenny Dalglish, was to wear t-shirts supporting Suarez in the warm up of the next game against Wigan.

In the aftermath, Evra was treated as the guilty party by many fans.

On the back of the scenes in Bulgaria last week and the Premier League's launch of their "No Room For Racism Campaign", it gave Carragher the opportunity to bring up the saga again eight years later.

Evra initially reacted to how he felt watching his fellow professionals make such a statement on that night in Wigan.

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I was so disappointed after the ban, when the team and Kenny Dalglish came out [with the T-shirts] in support of Luis Suarez. There were even some people calling me a liar. But you can see on the TV, he used those words. I will say again, I can't call Luis Suarez a racist, he just used some racist words that day.

I saw it. I was watching the game. I was like, this is ridiculous. It is unbelievable. Even for the club, you put your own club in danger when you do those things. I understand you always have to support your player because this is your team. But this was after the ban. If it was before the ban and you are waiting for the sanctions, but he got the ban. So what message are you sending out to the world when you do that? Supporting someone who has been banned for using racist words?"

Carragher immediately told Evra that Liverpool got their reaction completely wrong and apologised.

"There is no doubt that we made a massive mistake. That was obvious".

Carragher he didn't know about the plan to wear the t-shirts until a team meeting on the afternoon of the game.

I am not lying on that and saying 'I wasn't a part of it' because as a club, we got it wrong and we were all part of it. I was vice-captain. But that was the first I had heard of it that afternoon. So I am not sure who was actually behind it. I know you mention the manager, but I don't think Kenny had anything to do with it, to be honest, it was the players who Luis was close to in the dressing room who really wanted to support their mate and their friend.

What I would say is that maybe I, as an individual, lacked the courage to say I wasn't wearing it. Because once the squad has decided... I have to look at myself. I didn't have enough courage. Maybe there were others. I don't think everybody within Liverpool thought that we were doing what was right. But as a family, as a football club, your first reaction - no matter what someone does - is to support them even if they are wrong. And that is wrong. I am not condoning it, but that is the first reaction. Apologies. We got it massively wrong.

The conversation formed part of a wider 12 minutes discussion on the subject of racism in football, a very appropriate conversation given the various incidents of the last week.

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