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
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Last season Jose Mourinho wrote off the title of hopes of his "little horse" -- but now he has a squad primed to dethrone Manchester City.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1858 GMT (0258 HKT)
Luis Suarez will have to wait until late October to make his competitive Barcelona debut his ban for biting an opponent was partially upheld.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Can Louis van Gaal cut it at Manchester United? Will Bayern conquer all in Germany? Is this PSG's year to win the Champions League?
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1012 GMT (1812 HKT)
It's been a difficult year for Barcelona on and off the pitch, and the signing of Luis Suarez has only increased the prospect of more controversy.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored a total of 16 goals at four World Cup finals, has announced his retirement from international football.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Cultural y Deportivo Leonesa line up in their tuxedo kit.
When celebrating an important anniversary, it's always good to look your best. At least that's theory for a Spanish football team's preseason tuxedo kit.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
While many top European clubs are targeting the U.S. market, French football is setting its sights on expanding into Asia -- with China playing a key role.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
Europe's top clubs have booked a summer holiday to the U.S. -- but this is business not pleasure as they look to cash in on the World Cup afterglow.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Brazil's new coach Dunga won the World Cup as a player in 1994.
Former World Cup-winning captain Dunga is appointed coach of Brazil's national team for the second time, charged with restoring national pride.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
Colombia's World Cup star James Rodriguez continues Real Madrid's long tradition of signing "Galacticos."
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Germany's World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has decided to go out at the top by announcing his retirement from international football.
ADVERTISEMENT