Skip to main content

Wahl: Suarez saga is harming Liverpool's global brand

February 15, 2012 -- Updated 1226 GMT (2026 HKT)
Luis Suarez and Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish issued apologies on Sunday following the striker's handshake snub on Saturday
Luis Suarez and Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish issued apologies on Sunday following the striker's handshake snub on Saturday
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl says Liverpool FC have handled Suarez saga very badly
  • Luis Suarez's refusal to shake hands with Patrice Evra gained headlines around the world
  • Wahl says Liverpool PR statement following Suarez ban in December was one of the worst he's seen

London (CNN) -- The apologies issued by Luis Suarez and Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish on Sunday are a sign that the English club's American owners are finally stepping in to sort out a situation that has festered for too long, says a leading U.S. sports writer.

"This story got attention in the media in the U.S. -- The New York Times, The Boston Globe. These are papers (John Henry, Liverpool's principal owner) reads," Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl told CNN's World Sport.

The controversy started when Liverpool striker Suarez refused to shake hands with Manchester United's Patrice Evra before the start of an English Premier League match on Saturday.

Suarez, a Uruguay international, was widely criticized for the snub. It came as they met face to face for the first time since he was given an eight-game ban for racial taunts directed at the Frenchman at an earlier fixture between the two clubs in October.

United manager Alex Ferguson called Suarez a "disgrace" while Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre was angered by his own player's actions.

Suarez saga a PR nightmare for Liverpool

Henry -- co-founder of Fenway Sports Group, which also owns baseball's Boston Red Sox -- hasn't said anything publicly yet. However, Wahl said the Sunday apologies were a result of the owners' intervention.

The Merseyside club denied suggestions on Monday that the statements were prompted by the club's shirt sponsors Standard Chartered.

Wahl remains surprised at how Liverpool have handled the affair from the outset.

"When we saw the lengthy suspension issued to Luis Suarez, the PR department from Liverpool issued one of the worst PR statements I've ever seen," Wahl said.

Released in December last year, after the English Football Association handed down its eight-match ban and a £40,000 ($62,000) fine on Suarez, the Merseyside club said it was "very surprised and disappointed" with the decision.

"I think that gave Luis Suarez the feeling that he was in the right in this situation and that continued up into what we saw last weekend," Wahl said.

He believes Liverpool should have just accepted the penalty and moved on.

"I'm surprised that the ownership group of Liverpool, which is well-versed in American sports, let this go on this long," Wahl said.

"My feeling is that maybe that's connected to the relationship between the previous American owners at Liverpool and the fans and club, and maybe not wanting to be seen as meddling," he said.

"But they should have meddled along time ago and start putting things in the right direction. This took far too long to happen."

Henry is scheduled to attend the final of the English League Cup when Liverpool take on second division Cardiff at Wembley Stadium on February 26, but some media reports have speculated that he will perhaps fly over earlier.

Whether or not this turns out to be true, Wahl said Henry and the ownership group have always made one thing clear.

"Liverpool needs to be making its news on the field by winning and not with this other stuff."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1014 GMT (1814 HKT)
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.
ADVERTISEMENT